Sunday, 11 May 2014

Traditions... reflections on them...

During my time in Canada traditions were discussed often... and it is something that Ellen and myself discuss often at Filosofiska... how we can weave traditions in a meaningful way... of course Ellen will challenge me completely as she does not see the need for traditions - for Christmas, for Easter, for mothers day etc etc etc...

Talking of mothers day... today is mothers day AGAIN.... again you wonder... well I have already done the British Mother's Day and acknowledged my own mother living in the UK... then a few weeks later my children acknowledge MY role as a mother as it was Mother's Day here in Sweden... and now its all over facebook again... Mother's Day - although how many countries it is mother's day today I don't know...

I haven't celebrated mother's day or father's day in Sweden for a long long time... it has been something we have left to the families to do together... afterall not all children have mothers and fathers - for various reasons - and an activity that focuses on a parent means we are creating an exclusive activity/situation - as often what is a mother or father is not being talked about, but it is a an activity of making somthing for the said parent. Of course I have heard that these children without that particular parent can make something for the other parents, or a grandparent or whoever is important for the child (but I wonder if THAT is decided by the child or the adults?)
MY son asks why do we celebrate mother's day etc... when is it children's day?
Of course that exists... 20th November it is Universal Children's Day... but that seems more to do with the rights of children rather than celebrating childhood in the same way we celebrate mothers and fathers... and oh, by the way today in Spain it is Children's Day
Here in Sweden we celebrate children's day in October (used to be Cinnamon Bun Day) and also on November 20th...

Valentine... what is LOVE? The children said it was a Sky high tree that was daddy coloured, filled with hearts, butterflies, ornages and stars... when we looked for signs of love they saw their handprints and footprints in the snow... we used this to create the trunk and leaves of the tree. EXPLORING a tradition through philosophy


BUT my question is why don't we see all the activities etc on FB connected to children's day in the same way we see them for Mother's Day, St Patricks Day, Christmas, etc etc... why are children not being celebrated in a wash of activities... and what ARE these activities... are they stuff the children do to please the adults, learning experiences, the children's thinking, the adults thinking,...?

And when you start really thinking about it... how come there is this need to move from one tradition to another throughout the year... when do the children have a time to breath, a time to reflect... or come to that, when do the adults busy with preparations for all these traditions have a time to listen to the children, observe their interests and interpretations of the traditions...?

I am not against traditions... or against the activities connected to them... what I struggle with is when the activities have become the tradition rather than exploring the actual tradition. I wonder how much the children understand the many traditions that exist around the world when they are explored on a craft basis... I have done no research on this... so its all just thoughts. I am curious. I want to explore how children learn...

I love looking at all the amazing crafts and projects online... and the creativity of so many people... but I also like to interpret them... use them as inspiration rather than just copy... because I have to look at the children I work with and ensure that the experience is adapted to their learning...

This last year we have not done traditional crafts for traditions... what we have done is used philosophical dialogue to explore what the children already know about the traditions, we have extended their thoughts (as we have their reflections from the previous year so that they can see the development process in their own learning) and then we have made activities, art and crafts available to the children based on their thinking.. which also is documented and saved as part of the process for nexts year's understanding of the tradition...

project fear arose from the children's fear of heights as they were exploring fairy flight... it also came around the same time as Halloween... and became an excellent way of exploring this tradition too. the DARK became a central area to explore as many children were scared of the dark... so we played in the dark to work out what this fear feeling was and if we could overcome that feeling... and we did... "because we play in the dark, I am not scared anyomore"


Then there are the projects that we are doing based on the children's interests... of course we have followed these... and have been able to weave in traditions into these projects - allowing them to be meaningful for the children... of course this is always OUR interpretation of the situation.

As a child I loved doing Christmas/mother's day crafts etc it was never something that limited me... but I have had friends that have not experienced all these crafts in the same way... of trying to create something specific that has been pre-thought out by the teacher... and that there is the risk of being right or wrong...
But I have written about templates and creativity before (you can read that here) and you will see I am not against crafts in any way... but only when they are used without reflection, without an understanding of WHY, what the process is, what the learning is... and reflect afterwards as to whether that learning/effect occurred, and if it didn't why not, and what did happen instead... and how could the craft/activity be developed, adapted for the future... or even abandoned and a new one chosen...?

Reflection and learning... for children and adults is essential - and traditions are a part of that. Why are they being celebrated rather than JUST celebrating them...

I am quite sure that this post will provoke some more than others... and will stir emotions - both positive and negative... and this can be a good thing - if we talk about it... share our thoughts so that we all have the chance to expand our thinking...

After all philosophy has taught me... we do not have to agree with each other - but we do need to listen with respect and attempt to understand "the other".

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