Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Continuing" my letter to the Times: The learning that all children need is gross motor coordination, and trust in their perceptions. After receiving premature praise for fine motor skills it can be difficult for gifted children to deal with the reorganization that accompanies gross motor learning -- that is, having to learn at age nine or ten skills that are best learned effortlessly at age five or six. In the rush to get alphabets and numbers down many pre-school programs short change the essential gross motor bases of rhythm and balance.

Part of the "mutual awareness" aspect of my teaching is ensemble improvisation. I play something moody, mercurial, wildly lyrical, while they dance around playing various percussion instruments. Sometimes we do more organized gross motor percussion games. These activities are not met with resistance.

But the perception part is harder. Learning to rely on immediate perception rather than on memory is just plain hard. The smarter the child, the quicker the memory, and the easier it is to mask the need for that instant of confident response that is the sign of real autonomous thinking.