Confusion: Appreciating the nature of a problem - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Confusion: Appreciating the nature of a problem

Posted on April 26, 2010

by Dr. Edna Hussey on April 26, 2010

Typically as we approach the merry month of May, there is a rise in the level of activity on campus and in the classrooms. We're certainly experiencing high energy levels in the last few weeks of school, from May Day practices and preparations to synthesizing information on inquiries to making selections for portfolios. Several classes are still on fact-finding missions and data gathering for inquiries while on excursions. If you check the teachers' weblogs, you can read about a wide variety of inquiries in many classrooms, including specialists' classes.

Last week I wrote about our new understanding about "big ideas" as ideas that our students invent or come to as they try to make sense of the physical and social world around them. The faculty and I have been focusing more on evidence of students' thinking or big ideas that students come to when they encounter confusion when trying to rectify a problem. Dr. Forman explained this concept at a recent presentation to teachers, administrators, and student teachers in early childhood education and parents:

We want to spend our time wondering with children about problems they understand as problems. We teach this way not to motivate the children, but because we know the child needs to appreciate the nature of the problem. He must be clearly confused. Without a good handle on the problem, the explanation will have no meaning. The problem needs to generate some dissonance, some confusion that in its own way, is a form of knowing.

And so, some of the faculty are providing more time for students to theorize, speculate, or ponder rather than jumping from a question to answers that might be found in a number of resources. We are trying to tease out our students' big ideas, which reveal much more about the genius of our students' thinking. Who knows what our lunchtime meetings this week might yield?

This past week, three 5th graders were recognized for their award-winning haiku poetry in an annual national contest sponsored by Japan Airlines. Ethan Siegfried placed 3rd from over 1,000 entries. Kendall Murphy and Rocky Cusmano each received honorable mention as two of the top fifty entries. Two representatives from Japan Airlines presented certificates and awards; the proud parents and grandparents of our three students also attended the informal gathering in the classroom. You can find the students' haiku on Ms. Hoddick's weblog and photos on Mr. Black's weblog.

On Friday, our entire preschool and elementary was treated to a preview of Mid-Pacific kumu hula Lanakila Casupang's halau of over 80 middle and high school students in their Pupukahi performance. I have to say that the performance was professionally rendered, from staging to dancers' entrances and exits. They were poised, graceful, and mature in demeanor. For myself, the joy is always seeing our very own students who matriculated through the elementary school (as Epiphany students) and are now in high school! We are so proud of the halau who represent Mid-Pacific with honor.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey