Collaboration and Imagination

Sometimes, you don’t need to do anything.  You just have to observe.  You don’t even need to provide any specific equipment, just watch the play develop.  In our garden, we have a few bits and pieces for the learners to play with or rest on.  And sometimes, they use these things in a way you would never have imagined.

It started with a homemade ‘river’.  One learner joined all the pieces of pipe together to make her own river, taking advantage of the slope of the garden.  She was pouring water into the top and watching it form a little pool at the bottom.  Playing independently, she was learning so many things – the effects of gravity, the fluidity of liquid, how an angle of a slope could have an affect something – it was a great moment to witness.fullsizeoutput_8ed

I left it there over night.  She’d gone through such a fantastic thought process to make it that I was keen to share it with the other learners.  But before I got a chance, the learners discovered it themselves, and it morphed from a ‘river’…

…into a rocket!  Over the next few days, a whole group of learners came together and used that original idea to completely change it into something new.  The collaboration was a pleasure to witness!  No ideas were shunned, everyone had an input into what would go where, and how different bits they found around the garden could be used to enhance it.  There was a group of learners working together to ensure there was always water running down the pipe so that the ‘rocket’ would not run out of ‘fuel’.  They were applying knowledge they had of moving vehicles by keeping this going.  They ensured there were enough seats for all to be involved.

And what did I learn?  That collaboration doesn’t need an adult forcing it to happen.  With a common goal, collaboration will happen naturally.  Learners will create their own roles within the group and play their part.  The only key is that they must have a vested interest.  Maybe this is where collaboration can go wrong in the classroom?  Using their own interests and projects can be incredibly powerful.

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