søndag 21. september 2014

Largest in the World

My niece Ana is now a big girl: almost three years old! She grows with every small task she does the way adults do. She feels important when someone needs her help. And she gladly shows what she can do: “Look at me I can stand on one foot!” She can also ride a donkey!

The donkey is not so tall, but sitting in the saddle was still risky enough and Ana had to grasp the horn of the saddle. She gradually learned to be attentive to the rhythm of the donkey’s movements from side to side. The balance had to be negotiated through her upper body, especially since her feet could not reach the stirrups. She could feel the challenges of riding up- and downhill, and it was only on the flat ground that she let go of the saddle horn in order to fix the helmet (with a serious expression on her face).

The first few minutes of riding were a bit scary and her father had to support her back; Ten minutes later she told her dad to stay away; After half an hour Ana was ready to ride "the largest horse in the world” – as she expressed with enormous confidence. Mastering the donkey riding gave her courage to face greater challenges.

Small portions of mastery give courage and self-confidence to cope with larger challenges. Motivation comes from the mastery, but also from the struggle with the challenge – as Eisner (2002) wrote: “No challenge no growth; No mastery no growth.” It is my opinion that humans embody urge to explore and pursue the unknown, mystical and puzzling issues. If this urge is, in early age, support by significant adults, it will become powerful motivation to solve any kind of challenges – it becomes the driving force behind creativity. Charles Darwin wrote about his own desire to explore anomalies and strange issues none else found worth exploring (Smith, 2005). It was exactly the fact that he had enough motivation and self-confidence to pursue the odd that contributed to the great discoveries. Louis Smith (2005) reminds us of the relations between desire for anomalies and exceptions, and creativity.

Some of us strive to let our children face challenges. We are afraid they would hurt themselves. The challenges we expose the children to must, of course, be appropriate, but since it is the adults who have the power to decide what is appropriate, we should be aware of that lack of our own courage can actually prevent the children from experiencing mastery, becoming more self-confident and creative.   

Eisner, E. W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Smith, L. M. (2005). Anomalies, Exceptions and Creativity: A Perspective from Darwin's Natural History. Perspectives in Education, 21(2), 69-86.

Ingen kommentarer: