A class that I work with is creating life-size wooden puppets for an original production at their school. The students are using scraps of wood and metal as their materials.
This week I noticed that the limbs of the puppets had been carved down significantly – in fact about half of the original wooden leg had been cut out and sanded down. I asked Jordan who busy re-attaching the bottom portion of the leg to the knee component, why he had changed the legs and arms so significantly.
He replied, “Well, it wasn’t working. We did a trial run of attaching the puppet to the puppeteer and he couldn’t move himself or the puppet. It is supposed to look realistic. Not really realistic, but you know, suggest at being realistic. So then Yazi (the puppeteer), and the other puppet maker and I figured out that it was all because we hadn’t thought about how heavy all the pieces together would be. It just wasn’t working. So, if something isn’t working, you change it, right?”
In just a few sentences Jordan very simply explained how he, having criteria, having peers to think through his problem, and the power to make decisions about his learning and the product of his learning, was able to adjust from something that wasn’t working for him, to something that would. Jordan reminded me that as an educator, sometimes it isn’t about getting it right, but about having the courage to change something that isn’t working.