Bursting with Ideas

“Children do not wait for our permission to think. Indeed, children are bursting with ideas that are always impatient to escape through language (and we say a hundred languages) to connect and communicate with the things of the world.”  

Louis Malaguzzi, Founder Reggio Emilia Approach


This was my little Jack today; bursting with ideas. We spent the morning at Questacon National Science and Technology Centre. It’s a fabulous place and every few weeks we go along for Science Time. This week’s theme was volcanoes. Volcanoes! Jack was thrilled! All the children sat in a circle while the teacher talked to them about volcanoes. Jack couldn’t sit still, he couldn’t sit down. He was too excited and wanted to tell the teacher all about what he knew. He was bursting.

I tried not to go and get him, not to ask him to sit down. I wanted him to know that his excitement was ok, that his thoughts were valid and important, but it was a difficult situation. I could see the teacher was getting a little nervous, a little off put. I could see other parents looking around to see if I was going to get him; he wasn’t doing what he should be, he wasn’t sitting down, he was interrupting the lesson. It was a difficult situation.

I waited until Jack was finished talking before I asked him to sit back down. Each time he hopped up, I waited. I think interrupting him would have told him that in fact his thoughts were not important, only the teacher’s were.

Children do not live…in a pre-intellectual dimension, but they are capable of constructing thoughts and reflections because knowledge is with them, right from birth, in the heart of life itself.”

– Louis Malaguzzi

I battled with this daily when I was teaching, the notion that I was the only one who had the knowledge and it was my responsibility to hand it out to the students. The students would look at me, to me, searching for answers; they just didn’t believe they could, or didn’t know how to, search for the answers themselves. Or worse, they were conditioned to look to the teacher for the knowledge, for the answers.

I don’t want this for Jack. I want him to know that he has knowledge. That it is worth sharing. That it is important. That he can learn from others but also teach others.

So stand up little man and share your passions. I was so very proud of you today.

5 thoughts on “Bursting with Ideas

  1. He would have understood that you were suggesting a balance of enthusiasm and consideration if you had spoken to him as you would have spoken to an older child. It is only underestimating a child’s capacity that limits their ability to comprehend and be understanding.

    • I agree completely. We do try to talk to him respectfully and purposefully. We haven’t used the word ‘consideration’ with him yet. I like this word, I think he will understand. Thanks.

  2. I love this post. Regardless of what the teacher or other parents thought, I love and can appreciate that you took pause to consider what was happening there, rather than instantly shut him down. Posts like this are good lessons for new parents such as myself. 🙂 Thanks

    • Thank you. I always try to let him finish what he is saying before I speak. I think it is important to model respectful behaviour. How will he ever learn not to interrupt is he is constantly interrupted?

  3. I really struggled with this as a classroom teacher, especially with the little ones who hadn’t already had the enthusiasm drummed out of them before they got to me. I would require that they not interrupt another speaker before sharing but would let them share their thoughts once they had the floor. Between the enthusiasm and the fact that they hadn’t yet learned to communicate efficiently, and that so many children in the group wanted to share (some multiple times), and the rabbit trails… well it made it very difficult to accomplish the lessons objective within the time period. To greatly extend the period of time was trying to the patience of many children who had trouble sitting and attending to one activity for so long, and it also meant that other lessons would not get covered. And yet I hated to dampen that enthusiasm, or to communicate that any child’s thoughts were less valid.

    And there was born my desire to homeschool. To give the child free reign to explore what he is interested in for as long as he is interested in it. To let the “rabbit trails” be valid turns in the discovery process. To let the child give voice to all their thoughts on the subject they want to share.

    In a group situation these things are just not possible as each child has an equal right to them. So learning to share a bit, but listen to others, and to hold back some ideas until later (after the lesson, to share during “down time” if they are still burning for expression), is an important skill to learn as well. Learning to be a considerate member of the group is an important life skill. But I don’t want this skill to be practiced all day everyday at the expense of my child’s enthusiasm and self-confidence.

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