Monday, November 16, 2015

Thinking in Metaphor

Vea Vecchi was one of the first atelierista's appointed to the Reggio Emilia schools in the 1970's.

In my very humble opinion, Vea is a poet, philosopher and a visionary.  When I attended a conference in Portland, Oregon Vea spoke regarding the power of thinking  in metaphor. A child's rich imagination often relies on symbol and representation. This inclination is a wellspring for the development of metaphor. This year I again had the pleasure of hearing Vea Vecchi talk in Italy and she stated the following: 
"A metaphor offers many layers of interpretation and does not require a certain explanation."
Thinking in metaphors is fueled by flexibility and creativity.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have had my nose stuck in a book entitled , A Country Called Childhood  by Jay Griffiths. Take a look at what he says about metaphor.

Children are musicians of thought:they transpose from the key of fact to the key of magic. How? Thought metaphor. Children understand metaphor instinctively--and this is a breathtaking idea. If they didn't imagine how difficult it would be to explain it to them. As it is, I know that you can put an empty Heinz baked bean tin on a rug with a child who has barely learned to speak and tell the child the rug is the sea and the bean tin is a boat and there it is in his mind. A boat carrying its cargo across to the other side, just as the word 'metaphor' itself does. as we've seen from meta, 'across' and phor, 'carry', There is a metaphor within the very word itself. 

 "Children understand metaphor instinctively." Wow!

 Children are  constantly assimilating new language and understandings and as they accommodate this learning to what they know they compare and contrast.  Metaphors occur at the intersection between the appearance and the essence of an object or experience. 

We embrace metaphor as we work with the many languages of the classroom------writing, sketching, painting, drama, building,clay.......

Cheri offered the following example of metaphoric thinking captured in the studio.

Cheri's gleanings:
Observational drawing is a daily practice that the children have learned to do with patient focus and increased confidence. It requires coming back, over and over again to the details of the items in view. They are encouraged to draw what they see, and not what they imagine. Being challenged to define the facts and temper their imagination can be exhausting for young children. Finding ways to make this critical practice fun, can be challenging for teachers. 
Following our many sessions of drawing a human pelvis and a turtle pelvis, photocopies allowed them the freedom to revisit their factual drawings with a different intention. They were encouraged to use their full imagination to create something completely divergent from their previous drawings.  Re-observing the detailed shapes from all angles, delighted them in the discovery of utter goofiness and provided a new magic to their diligence.

Each of these images began as an observational sketch of a human pelvis but they were reinvented

A monster      Kenny

                                                      A princess  Sidney

                                       a winged bug Zoey

                                                                      a turtle Avery

                           A bowl of ice cream Shayna

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