/* Google Analytics Code*/

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Play, the BSC, and Me

When I went to college I had no doubts about what I wanted to do - study language acquisition (more on that later). But after a couple of years of classes and lab work in that, I realized that it was the kind of thing that is fun for me to read about when others have done the research, but I personally couldn't devote my life to it. So, like many college students, I suddenly found myself confused and directionless. I loved my major (cognitive science), loved studying the human mind, but I no longer knew what I wanted to do with it. I thought back to things that had attracted me as a kid - and the answer was obvious. Some might think it ironic that the experiences that led me to the design of learning environments, by and large, were not while I was in school, but I'm sure my fellow Informalists aren't surprised at all.

Claudia and the Great Search (Baby-Sitter's Club #35) by Ann M. Martin

Oh, the Baby-Sitter's Club. I was obsessed from the summer after fourth grade when I got my first one in the Scholastic Summer Book Club pack, til I entered high school and finally grew out of them. This was always one of my favorites, and it had nothing to do with the main plot (Claudia worries that she was adopted and searches for the truth).

The B plot of this BSC book revolves around Claudia and Emily Michelle, the two-year-old (adopted) sister of Kristy, a fellow club member. Emily Michelle is lagging developmentally and Claudia is hired to tutor her in things like colors, letters, and counting. Claudia realizes quickly that simply telling her these things won't work, and has to get creative in her strategies - basically, it's Claudia and the Introduction to Pedagogy. I loved it! I specifically remember one scene where she realizes that Emily Michelle has memorized the numbers 1-10, but didn't understand what counting really means and would count to 10 no matter how many objects you put in front of her. Somehow, that blew my preadolescent mind - who knew there was so much involved in learning to count, or that so much could go wrong? I would imagine ways to help a child through this kind of problem.

Even at that age, I knew that this book fit in neatly with other things I enjoyed. Like many children, I loved to play school. Like many children, I always wanted to be the teacher. I was a bit odd, though - I'd spend hours planning my lessons, writing up worksheets and creating schedules... and then get bored when it was time to actually do the part that most people would consider "playing school." All of the fun for me was in the planning, the devising of things for kids to do. (Because of this, I often wound up playing with my stuffed animals as students instead of other kids, because they didn't mind not getting to actually play their part.)

As I thought back to these experiences, it seemed obvious that designing learning environments was something I'd always wanted to do - I just hadn't realized that it was something I could combine with cognitive research and do for a living!

This is part of a series on the impact that informal learning has had on my life and career. To see all posts in this series, click on the "Informal Learning and Me" tag.

No comments:

Post a Comment