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Early childhood education has been my life for over 30 years. I have taught all age groups from infants to 5-year-olds. I was a director for five years in the 1980s, but I returned to the classroom 22 years ago. My passion is watching the ways children explore and discover their world. In the classroom, everything starts with the reciprocal relationships between adults and children and between the children themselves. With that in mind, I plan and set up activities. But that is just the beginning. What actually happens is a flow that includes my efforts to invite, respond and support children's interface with those activities and with others in the room. Oh yeh, and along the way, the children change the activities to suit their own inventiveness and creativity. Now the processes become reciprocal with the children doing the inviting, responding and supporting. Young children are the best learners and teachers. I am truly fortunate to be a part of their journey.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Making a joke

As I was looking through my photos and videos recently, I found two videos that showed how one child created a joke.  She did not start out to intentionally create a joke, but was so amused by her actions that she then intentionally repeated the joke with a slight variation.

In the first video, the child lined five figures on a cardboard ledge by propping them next to each other against a cardboard wall. The child tried to adjust one of the figures, maybe because it was too close to a hole in the ledge. As she tried to prop it up away from the hole, she placed the feet on top of a pellet. The pellet rolled a bit so she lifted it away. In doing so, she made the legs of the figure bump a hole in the ledge. When she did that, she lost her grip on the figure and the figure dropped into the table to her great amusement. After a good laugh, she tried to prop up the figure again, but was not successful so she left it lying on the ledge.

Joke 1 from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

Why did accidentally dropping the figure into the table amuse her so?  There was certainly an element of surprise for the child, but was that enough to make her laugh?  Was it the bump that knocked the figure out of her hand?  Was it that she lost control of the figure?  Was it that the figure fell into the table?   She looked right at me with my camera when she laughed.  Was she laughing because I had witnessed the little accident?  Was she simply laughing it off?

In the second video taken shortly after the first, the child reached for the figure that was lying on the cardboard edge. Instead of picking it up, she started to slide it toward the hole in the ledge. She got it over the hole and then lifted its feet. With the feet up and the head directly over the hole, she dropped the figure into the hole. She laughed at her joke.

Joke 2 from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.

She went from accidentally dropping the figure into the sensory table to intentionally dropping the figure into a hole in the cardboard ledge.  If there was any surprise for the child in the second video, it could only have been that the figure disappeared in the hole.  Otherwise, the only common element of the two episodes was the dropping of the figure, first unintentionally and then intentionally.  Does this qualify as early slapstick humor?

This was a very ordinary moment at the sensory table.  However, with a glimpse into the ordinary, the extraordinary emerged.  The child's actions necessarily led to more actions.  She went from the unintentional to the intentional in her actions.  In essence, she was creating her own reality in the unfolding of ordinary moments.  And that is no joke.  That is extraordinary---with a dash of mirth.

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