Thursday, September 20, 2012

Competence: Imagination Released

Yesterday as we worked on our Nile Rivers, we ran into a Mediated Learning moment.
After working with the Mediated method, I have learned that when excuses arise, there's often an issue of competence hidden behind the words of defeat.
Perhaps you can relate:

"I can't do this, Mom." My six year old is confident that she is unable to build a Nile River with rock, dirt and sticks.
"Sure you can," I enthuse.
"No, I can't. I don't have a good imagination."

This is a good place to ASK QUESTIONS. I could be her cheer leader and say, "Of course, you can! You can do anything you put your mind to." Instead, I want to find out WHY she believes that she doesn't have a good imagination.
"Can you tell me more about that?"
She shrugs. "It's just no good. I can't create anything amazing."
I nod, pray and take a moment to think about how I will approach this topic. "Come with me," I say and I reach for her hand.

We walk into the living room and head to a corner that is filled with a newly made doll palace. There are necklaces, tea towels, blocks and sponges spread out in a colorful array creating a friendly abode for all of my daughters favourite dolls.
"Hey, look at this! Who made this amazing fort for her dolls?"
My daughter shrugs,"I did."
"This is incredibly creative." I point out a few details that astound me. A sponge couch, a necklace chandelier and a bedroom that is divine. I tap her on the shoulder and say, "This came from a geat imagination."
She hesitates. "Mo-om. It's not like that. I do this all the time. I don't make Nile Rivers all the time. I just don't have a good imagination."

I realize that now I am dealing with a BELIEF issue. My daughter doesn't believe she has a good imagination. I ASK more questions in order to find out what's going on.
"What is the biggest challenge with building the river?" I ask.
She blinks, then says simply, "I can't put what's inside my head into the box. And I can't tell you what I see in my head because you'll see something different in your head, and it just won't work."
"Oh, I see." I empathize. "That happens to me sometimes. Let me tell you something about creativity. One of the things God has given us with the gift of creativity is that it is constantly unfolding. We get an idea, but once we start to work with the materials for that idea then our creativity kicks in. The picture in our mind might look one way, but once our hands hold the material and we move parts around, our brain starts to think of new ways to design things." Then I use the BRIDGING technique. "Just like when you were building your Doll House in the living room. You had an idea and gathered your materials. Once you started to work with everything, then new ways of using the beads and cloths came to you. Look at the beautiful home you created."
She smiles. "Yeah. I guess."

She's feeling better about her imagination, but I can tell she isn't 100 per cent on board with the project yet.
"Let's look at the project and gather our materials together. Once we get everything in one spot, you might get some new ideas."
We pull everything together. She is grumpy when she sees the dirt from the garden. It has clumps.

This is the time to serve her. This is the moment to go out of my way for her breakthrough.

 I jump up and tell her that I have just the thing for the soil. I dig through our garden shed and find an old flower pot that has a screen-like bottom. "How about we use this as a soil sifter?" I grab a handful of soil and shake it back and forth in the pot. The clumps turn into fine particles of dirt.

My daughter beams. "Yes, yes! This is what I wanted."
She looks at a picture in a book on Egypt and says,"I think I will do the river like they did it in this book, but make it a bit differently.
I smile big and know that she has unlocked from her previous state of feeling incompetent. She is ready to create.
"I'm excited to see what you come up with," I say.
And it turns out to be stunning.
I am learning that the key to unlocking a feeling of incompetence in your child is made up three things.
1. Ask Questions
2. Listen
3. Like Christ, serve. Go out of your way, however inconvenient it is at the moment, to serve your child and help eliminate excuses. Sometimes that means you remove the challenge, other times you think WITH your child of a solution.
 I've learned that the greatest thing we can do to eliminate incompetence is to walk with your child. Make it "our" journey, not "their" journey.
Once confidence is regained, then let them go and watch what they come up with!

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