This morning I was with my son (16 months) as were playing with blocks. I would put a few blocks on top of each other and he would knock them down. After several iterations of this (I actually had a 4-story building going at one point), I decided to watch him play. He would sometimes look at the blocks and sometimes put them into a loose pile. And he started to try putting one on top of another. What I found fascinating is that he appeared to be trying to “stick” the blocks together in his hands. He seemed to notice that some blocks would “stick” together if stacked in a certain way, but sometimes they fell apart, and as he held them in his hands, he tried to figure out what made them “stick”. He did this over and over and over.
This made me reflect on how I “know” that blocks will only stack if there is 1) enough gravity and 2) enough friction, two forces working in mutual opposition to hold blocks together in apparent unity. Of course, a little child does not inherrently “know” this – they have to learn it one way or the other. This also made me refelct on what “teaching” and “learning” actually is. I didn’t need to praise my son or say anything, actually, I just needed to demonstrate a few examples and then let him run with it. Granted, this isn’t true for all situations (I don’t know how you do mathematics without talking through it *grin*).
Oh to be a kid again.