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Clapham Blog

A Clapham Distinctive: The Art of Observation

Posted by Admin on Oct 23, 2014 10:23:45 AM
by Christine Escareno, Directior of Instruction Lower School and Explorers I Teacher

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"You can be there, but not be there.  You can see, but not truly see.  You can hear, but not listen.  Be fully in the moment."  These words challenged me as I listened to a recent class discussion.

The power of observation, this ability to see, to listen, and to fully live is cultivated in many ways at Clapham School.  On nature walks, students stop to notice the ants working together to carry a seed, not just a seed, a watermelon seed, an oval-shaped watermelon seed.  As Explorer I students observe the growth of a tadpole, they draw the changes.  The tadpole has two legs; no wait, today it has four.  But where did the tail go?  As Explorers II students listen to "Peter and the Wolf," they pick out the flute and the oboe; they listen for repeated melodies.  As Class Four students observe Georges-Pierre Seurat's pointillism, they look to see the individual dots of color.  He didn't use green at all, but he painted the green with blue and yellow dots.  As a teacher silently puts up math problems, students observe the numbers looking for the pattern, the rule being taught.

In interactions between teachers and classmates, the Clapham community practices hearing, truly listening to what others are saying before responding. Teachers take time to not just hear questions, but to understand the questions being asked.  Ideas are shared and built upon.  Teachers study their students as individuals, as persons.  They see one student's delight over discovering mouse bones in owl pellets.  They see another's struggle to grip the pencil correctly.  They hear one student's voice being bossy instead of helpful and hear another student's fascination with words and meaning.  Teachers observe that some students thrive on risk while others struggle to confidently stand in front of their peers.   Each of these observations provides ways for teachers to enjoy their students and to help them grow as persons.

This week practice the discipline of truly seeing and hearing.  Take time to study your children, pause to enjoy their dance to the "The Nutcracker" or their reenactment of the Battle of Troy.  Take a walk with them, listen for the crunch of the leaves, and observe the different ways leaves fall from the trees. Truly hear the complaint of your daughter before planning your response.  Notice your son's or daughter's energy bursting to go outside.  Truly hearing, seeing, and being help us to live life, now.

Topics: Teacher Articles, Christian Living, Clapham Classroom, Classical Education