Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Skill development

My 3-1/2-year-old son has recently started drawing lower-case letters in outline. By recently, I mean I just saw them for the first time yesterday. You know outline letters, the kind where you can then later colour in the letter. In fact that's what he calls them. Colouring letters. He's been doing upper-case ones for a while, and I was pretty impressed with that.

When I saw the lower-case letters today, it got me thinking. I distinctly remember learning to write bubble letters in 7th grade or even later (I remember the school where I learned them from some classmate who was really good at art). So what is it that is so different that my son has learned this, without really being taught, at age 3?

For one, his dad draws well. So that's probably a major contributing factor. But I'm skeptical about the degree of connection between heredity and specific skills. So I thought some more about PakameristanicanJr's drawing and penmanship. And it seems to me that he is really good at imitating. So, for example, as a huge fan of Disney/Pixar's Cars, he has been looking at the Cars logo for a long time. But until recently, he couldn't draw it. Then he asked his dad and me to draw it for him, several times over the course of a couple of weeks, I guess. Not every day, but it must have been a half dozen times. And now he draws it himself. So there's something about watching how we draw it that seems to help him do it himself.

The question that remains in my mind is whether this is a universal thing. Do all, or most, kids learn like this, by paying attention to how grown ups are doing something? I don't remember learning things that way, but upon reflection, it seems to be a difference in attentiveness. When I watch/ed someone carefully as they were doing something, I can/could imitate. But I rarely bothered to do so for things that require manual skills. It's just interesting how carefully he attends to the visual, something that I rarely do.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

I hold my honey and I store my bread

In little jars and cabinets of my will.

I label clearly, and each latch and lid I bid,

Be firm till I return from hell.

I am very hungry. I am incomplete.

And none can tell when I may dine again.

No man can give me any word but Wait,

The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;

Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt

Drag out to their last dregs and I resume

On such legs as are left me, in such heart

As I can manage, remember to go home,

My taste will not have turned insensitive

To honey and bread old purity could love.

Gwendolyn Brooks 1945