Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Conservation skills

Conservation: The understanding that something stays the same in quantity even though its appearance changes.  To be more technical (but you don’t have to be) conservation is the ability to understand that redistributing material does not affect its mass, number or volume.

Conservation refers to a logical thinking ability which, according to the psychologist Jean Piaget becomes evident in children aged 7–12 during the concrete operations stage of their development. It is part of Piaget's theory of cognitive development.

We did this in my year three class today. (that’s second grade to my US peeps) and I am sad to say that I still struggle with this. I *know* logically that the short fat container is 1 litre and so is the tall thin container (because they are both clearly marked 1000ml) and yet, I had to run a quick test as I was gathering the materials for the teacher because I had a lingering doubt that it would work. The short fat container seemed so small and the tall was really tall. I did a quick test of filling the small one with water and transferring the water to the tall one.  Needless to say, it worked and I was secretly amazed because I was sure it wouldn’t. I am sure all of the rest of you over the age of 7 probably figured that out, but somehow I am perpetually in that childhood category.

At home I cannot judge the container size when it comes to packing leftovers. I am forever pulling out one that is too small or much too big but unlike Goldilocks I can never get it “just right.”

Principle of Conservation - Articles.whmsoft.com (http://articles.whmsoft.com/searches/google_search.php?keyword=piaget+stages+of+development&language=english&depth=2&image_keyword=Piaget+Stages+Of+Development&image_fullurl=http%3A%2F%2Facademics.rmu)
 When I was doing my teacher training we had to run the conservation test on three groups of children. The youngest were about age 5 and were certain that both containers were different and the same water would not fill both. Even after you showed them they still maintained the containers were different capacities.
 The middle group were about 7 years old and at first believed that the containers did not show the same amount of water, but after you showed them they believed and it. This is where I am. With the 7 year olds.
 The last group were 10 or 11 years old. They looked at me like I was incredibly stupid when I asked them about the capacity of both containers. Of course they were the same. They both held the same number of ounces. It didn’t matter about the size or shape of the container. Did I not know that? they seemed to ask with their world weary gaze. I tried to explain that younger people believed that the size and shape of the container mattered, but they were having none of it. Every child swore they had never been so na├»ve.
So there we are. Conservation. A skill that has passed me by. Sigh…..it is a good thing I work in year three.

An interview with a Cultural Teddy Bear

Embedded image permalink

I just found this weird and funny.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Fruit Slut

There. I’ve said it. My name is Spidergrrl and I am a fruit slut. My recent obsession has been figs. I despised them in my childhood--our neighbour Ruby Hall had a fig tree and always offered me one when I came by to visit. I am sure my words were polite, but my face said, “gag me with a spoon.”  It was the texture, it was all grainy and gooey. She was forever hoisting jars of homemade fig preserves on us and I never ate a spoonful. Ah, how times have changed.

 Image result for figs

Recently we went out to eat at my favourite London restaurant Tibits. One of the salads had fresh figs that had been quartered. I ate one and it was *love* and first taste. I would like to digress momentarily and say there are two things I love about Tibits--the delicious fresh vegan food and the flocked wallpaper.
just look at that texture, waiting to be caressed
 As a child I had a wallpaper sample book (do they even give those away any more?)  I loved to rub the flocked wallpaper so much that I rubbed all the fuzziness off of it. When we go to Tibits I like to sit where I can rub the wallpaper with one hand whilst I eat with the other. Spiderman just gives me that *look*, but I pretend I don’t see him.

Anyway, since then I have been obsessed with figs. I have bought some every week in the local market--big bruise coloured figs with an outer skin like a bat’s wing and a deep russet interior. There is no other way to eat a fig but sensually. I like to stand by the sink and rub the soft leathery skin against my lips and cheeks. Then I slice it open and use my tongue to scoop the lovely, honeyed interior away from the skin. I tend to moan a lot when I do it because the taste is so magical. This is a true transcription of something that happened in our house.

Spiderman: (walking through front door) *whistle* (special whistle he uses to tell me “I love you/ I’m home“)

Me: Mmmm…oh yes…oh God…

Spiderman: Where are you?

Me: In the kitchen..Oh yes…..mmmm…..Oh..Oh….Ohhhhhh

Spiderman: What the hell are you doing?

Me: (sheepishly) Um….eating a fig.

So there you have it. A confirmed fruit slut. Now if only we had flocked wallpaper….

Monday, 1 October 2012

The importance of art and friendship

Last week I got an email saying that a dear old friend named Ruth Buckley had died. She was 92 and died peacefully, without pain in her sleep. She had retired to Florida after the deaths of her best friend Adine and her husband Chuck some years before. I imagine that it is a glorious reunion for them.

She was a hugely important and influential individual in my formative years. She was an artist--a *real* artist who had a studio in her own house. She also had this amazing bust of Nefertiti that I always admired.
Nofretete Neues Museum.jpg

She was this interesting old lady who travelled with her best friend Adine seeing all the great art and architecture of the world. As a child I thought they were joined like one person. RuthandAdine. Like it was all one word.  And they probably were not nearly as old as they seemed to my young eyes.

Several times in my childhood, I was graciously invited over to Ruth and Chuck’s house when Ruth was trying out some new art technique she wanted to share. I felt in awe of her that she--a real artist--would allow me--a kid who liked art--into her studio. She always played classical music as she worked, Mozart was clearly her favourite but she always kindly indulged me when I brought my Beethoven cassette. She encouraged me to love instrumental music and  *feel* the music as I painted.

Once we did silk screen printing using torn paper and earthy toned paints to create interesting abstract geometric shapes on paper and another time we dyed silk scarves in a variety of ways--whooshing the paint around by blowing it through straws or dip dying. I am certain there were other times, but those are the two projects I remember the most clearly.

Our artistic sessions were always followed by lunch. I cannot recall what we ate except for her delicious home-made pickles and Welch’s white grape juice which was like nothing I had ever tasted and thereafter insisted--nay, demanded--that my family purchase the same ambrosia on our weekly shopping trip.

What I came to realize as an adult is the gift that she gave me was time and creativity. She let me come in to her world and shared it with me, teaching me some technique but also allowing me some free reign to create something new. She was older and took and interest in a squirt like me. These days I try to do the same. I am “Auntie Heather” to countless kids. All of my work colleagues with school age children have happily dropped their children off for “play dates” where we looked at the spiders, did some baking, made some lip balm and body scrub and just generally had a good old creative time. When one of our former students was diagnosed with cancer, I would pile all my card making supplies in my trolley and wheel it over to her house. We had several lovely creative sessions before she died.

 It is really important to pay back the debt I owe Ruth Buckley. She valued me as a creative soul when so many didn’t. I have lost count of the times I was beaten up by my peers for daring to dream and be different. Going to Ruth’s studio was a honour. I was very lucky to have her as an artistic mentor and friend.

May it carry on.