Saturday, June 25, 2011

Universal through Particular

Stephen here...

James Joyce once said "in the particular contains the universal". My daughter had a particular experience recently that has made me think about and ask universal questions.

Last Wednesday, Jocelyn and I were playing in the backyard before Kari came home. Jocelyn was bouncing back and forth between her scooter, swing, drawing easel, and her empty plastic pool.

I do not remember how it happened, but next thing I knew, we are by the hose and she turns it on.

Jocelyn loved it. She was not jumping up and down, giggling and all that. But she was completely captivated with the hose and water. This is not the first time she has played with the hose and water. She does that just about every weekend.

What was different this day was her exploration and imagination appeared elevated. In the past, she would be content playing with the water coming out of the hose. On this day, however, she wanted to direct and purposefully use the water.

My heart about melted when she began watering her pacifier.

It was as if she thought that by "watering" it, more pacifiers would be produced. I'm not going to get into all the learning theory she is actively engaged in and all that. I know she was learning.

I could have sat there all day and watched her play with the water. I certainly spent hours playing in the front yard of my parents house, making dirt race tracks and using the hose to race leaves down the angle of the driveway. (I never had hot wheels tracks...was never really interested in them!)

This experience of Jocelyn playing with water for at least fifteen minutes has caused me to think...

How do I teach my 21-month old to be responsible with water and all of earth's resources?

My parents never talked to my sister and I about these topics.

I am certainly not a fan of the marketing campaign to "Go Green." In addition, I must admit that I have not treated the earth's resources in a responsible manner over the years.

I know I can just turn off the water and have us walk inside. I also get that she is only 21-months old and I am likely over analyzing things here...

But I do want to have these conversations with my daughter. But how? When? Will she judge me for being a hypocrite? How do I teach something I know NOTHING about and, to be honest, have not bothered to even think about until this week?

This post is cross posted at Rush the Iceberg.


  1. I think this is an important illustration of how we can learn so much from our kids and our students. Imagine the opportunities that arise when a student does something unexpected like this with an assignment. When that happens and we have to ask ourselves tough questions about our knowledge, our example and if we may come across as hypocritical or inauthentic will it cause us to shut it down or can we take the big risk and engage in the question that is raised?

  2. Roderick,

    Thanks for the comment! I like that you added the student aspect to this, it has made me think about the ways I am a hypocrite in the classroom but not here at home with my daughter! I think my students have and do forgive my hypocritical and/or inauthentic actions through honest discussions and a school year's worth of ups and downs. I am wondering to what extent our own children will be forgiving? Do they expect more out of us? Should the expect more out of us?

    Thanks for extending my thinking!

  3. Water, like so many things, are magical at this age. A little magic isn't a bad thing - even if it's wasteful. That's my take on it. Slowly introduce stewardship as she gets older.