Does it have to be straight?

Today at the kids recorder lesson the teacher decided to do some ‘music theory’ with them. Basically-it was a worksheet with two columns and they had to match up the musical note to its rest symbol (something like that, I’m music illiterate!). The kids drew their first lines and the teacher commented that the lines weren’t straight-we three ignored the comment. Then they did it again-Hazel adding a swirl in the middle of her line. The teacher commented again. We ignored. Then it happened again-two wavy lines were made and she said they needed to be straight or else they wouldn’t know which ones matched up. Hmm! Me thinks a comment from me is needed.

I then told her that they always draw the lines any way they want to. The end result is to get the correct match, which they did. She mentioned again that they would need to be able to see the matches and straight lines would be best. And I said: “only if you’re programmed to think that way.”

Hazel started to do simple workbooks just after she was three. We started these early for her for two main reasons, primarily because she was ready, and secondarily because I wanted the kids to know that educational work was going to be a part of our lives. We only did them as and when she asked to do them-it was never a set part of our lives. She enjoyed doing them and would ask to do them often.

The workbooks were mostly along the lines of picking which items were the same or different, etc… The directions would usually say something like ‘cross out the one that is different’. I’d read that to Hazel and explain what it would mean-and then she would do something like circle the two that were the same instead. Whether she did this out of independence because she liked to do ‘her own thing’, or some sort of ‘defiance’-which would be odd as she was doing them because she had asked to do them, or just because she liked circling better than crossing out-I didn’t care. I decided the very first time she did that, that I wasn’t going to ‘correct’ her. Because as far as I was concerned the only thing of importance was could she recognize what the difference was. How she showed that to me was of no importance what so ever.

When it came time to match two items together with a line-well the wavy line was invented. Yes, maybe a teacher would have made it mandatory to make the lines straight, as that is what we were programmed to do. But I never insisted on it or pointed out that the lines should be straight-and because I never commented on it-neither child had a clue what their music teacher was on about. Some of the lines the kids draw can be very inventive. Kieran will weave the lines all around the objects till he stops at the right one. Hazel draws loops and swirls and will use different colours to make it pretty.

But they always stop at the right answer. Is it the wrong answer because the line isn’t ruler straight? I don’t think so.

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2 Responses to Does it have to be straight?

  1. Jax says:

    How very odd – I’ve never thought of straight lines being required. Like you say if the answer is demonstrably right, what difference does it make? Small usually draws his lines all over the place, often trying to avoid crossing them I think, Big would be more likely to draw them straightish, but I’ve never thought to comment either. Nor if he ticks things instead of circling them as he often does. Hm.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I think she was looking on it as a problem when it came time to revise. (Like my two would do that for that sheet!) But she said it was so they could clearly see which two matched up during revision. She couldn’t understand how they would know which lines lead to which item. I said it’s their style–and whether she understood it or not wasn’t of the highest importance–they understood and would be able to know which line was which in a years time. Though–if I did insist on them drawing straight lines for the rest of the year–I wonder if they would lose that ability? Plus–if I know my kids as well as I think I do–they will never look at the sheet again-and will be dumbfounded over the whole idea of revision! Something I’ve never been a fan of.
    Kieran also tries to make sure the lines don’t cross each other! Isn’t it funny what they come up with!

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