Why do I enjoy teaching again? Oh yeah, it’s the box.
It’s the same every term. By the end of it, I am exhausted, running out of time, feeling I am not teaching all I wanted to. And then the first day of the next term starts, and I find my usual students eager to start again, afresh.
Today was no different as four eager, laughing, fresh-faced urchins tumbled down to the basement. No, they didn’t rush for the crayons, sit at the table, ask where the paper was. They did ask: “what are we doing today?” but didn’t wait for the answer, went to greet the bunny, and then the guinea pig. I let them settle as I tried to figure the best way to introduce them to Cezanne‘s notion that “everything in nature can be represented in terms of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone”… or rather how you can draw fun stuff from your imagination once you know how to represent a cube in space (leaving the “see the real world in an easier way to draw” for another time).
There were squeals of joy as I told them to dig in the box of cardboard, choose a piece and reconstitute the box. Of course, these were 5-8 year old, and sticky tape and cardboard boxes were involved. How could there not be joy? As we waited for all to be finished, I told them that the box that was really well sealed had a cat in it (Not quite Shroedinger’s cat, but his cousin). However, the cat was really sensitive to light, and it would disintegrate if it was exposed the smallest bit of light, which means that we can’t open the box to check if the cat is there. Curiously none of them argued that such a cat couldn’t exist. But when I asked if they believed me, they said “no”. So I gave them the box to check. They stopped and laughed, getting the paradox immediatly (I am using “they” because they really reacted as a group). And then they started looking for solutions. “Maybe we can just take a peak”, or “maybe we can place a camera before the cat goes in, with a mechanism connecting it to the outside so we can take pictures”, “Open the box at night”… as I pointed that in all cases the amount of light required to see or take a picture would be enough to destroy the cat, they fell silent.
one of them said “We can touch it in total darkness” and the one who’s been most silent all along said “we can ezray it”…I had to ask again. “X-ray“. Oh! I decided there and then that the cat was not sensitive to that range of the spectrum, offered her the box and suggested she passes it to her mom to check (Mom’s a doctor).
After that, everyone settled, and it was box-drawing, constructing from boxes, more box drawing and then drawing 3-D animals from imagination. Pictures next time… get the 3-D glasses ready!