Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Building with Legos and Words

Watching my 7-year-old grandson building with Legos this morning made me wonder if my students could write their essays in a similar manner. Noah loves to carry out tests with the blocks as he builds, assessing the various sizes and shapes to see what he can create. He seems to have no map in mind as he manipulates the little blocks, just letting them line up and link together in unplanned ways. It’s a joy to watch him work in such a freewheeling way, and I wish my students could experience that kind of looseness and liberty in their writing. I can picture them sitting, in a perfectly unperturbed way, like my grandson, and setting sentence after sentence down with as much ease as if they were working with pleasure on a sandcastle at the seashore. Noah has a big box full of Lego pieces to pick from, which makes his job a joyous and fairly effortless one, and, similarly, my students have their vast assortment of thoughts and words to put to use as they construct their essays. They could reach into their minds and muddle around among the thoughts and make their selections with a certain amount of openness and – who knows - -even happiness. What they would end up building with their words might be as distant to them as the stars in the sky, and just as inconsequential. What would count, if they could write this way, would be the fun they would have as they help sentences stick together with the smoothness of Lego pieces – as much fun as Noah nodding and smiling while he watches his construction take shape.

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