Monday, March 28, 2011

What if?

In addition to Two Writing Teachers :), I also RSS Interesting Nonfiction for Kids (INK), a blog written collaboratively by authors of nonfiction picture and YA books. Today's post was writen by David Schwartz--and got me thinking. Here's part of his post:
I think parents and teachers (not to mention media providers) would do children and our future a great service if they encouraged wondering and the asking of questions rather than simply consuming and accepting information and stimuli. Children need to interact, not just imbibe, what the world sends their way. . . .Case in point: I once met a 6th grade science teacher who had asked her students in a well-heeled public school to put some small piece of the natural world (a few plants and/or small animals) and temporarily transfer it to a contained environment (shoebox, glass jar, etc.) for an hour of observing, speculating, hypothesizing and experimenting. Everyone in the class thought the assignment was too hard. They didn't know what to do for an hour. The teacher lamented that if she had asked them to write a 10-page report on Einstein, no one would have batted an eye.
You might say the whole class -- or a whole generation -- has a "what if?" deficit.
What if we started a nationwide discussion on what to do about it?
In his post, Schwartz lists his own "what if" questions. What a great way to get me thinking! So here is my list of "what ifs" for today (it's actually kind of difficult to get started--but really fun once my mind starts going there!):
* What if we could choose one day a year to live inside our favorite books or stories? What would change--in the book and in our lives?
* What if rain went from the ground up, instead of from the sky, down?
* What if broccoli and cauliflower tasted like chocolate and caramel?
* What if people could run faster or somehow move faster (think my way to a place) than cars or planes? Would we even need them? Would we crash in space as we tele-ported ourselves about?
* What if we were required at the end of each day to list five things we'd noticed in the world that day? Would we pay more attention?
* What if we all had to use a minimum of 10 similes a day? More use of "like" or more effective use???
* What if spring flowers bloomed for 4 months instead of just 6 weeks?
* What if days were 36 hours instead of 24? Would we be in less of a hurry?


  1. As for the final question. Nope, we'd just fill them up like always! Cynical me talking... The beginning of your quest for helping students ''wonder" more also starts at home, with less tv & more conversation. I "wonder" what would happen if tv was a privilege to be viewed only on the off occasion there was little else to do, or on an occasion where it really means something--a special historical moment or a good program that teaches something. Our school provides oodles of choice for the students, so in order to create their own learning, students (from 5-14) must ask 'what if' quite a lot. The choices have consequences, not always positive, but always educational for the child. It's so hard to explain. I love the fact that you created some questions for yourself. Don't you think that's what writers do quite a bit? You really made me start thinking!

  2. Have you read Georgia Heard's books? She truly believes in the power of observation. After I read her latest book, I set up an "I wonder" station in my class. The kids questions are wonderful.

  3. I love this post. What grabbed my attention was the idea of spending a year inside my favorite book. I immediately thought of The Secret Garden, a favorite since childhood. This is a great idea to use with kids - the possibilities are endless. Thank you for provoking thought on this Monday evening.