In the Classroom: The Grasshoppers
It is not uncommon to see children running around open spaces, chasing one another, perhaps even pointing pretend weapons at each other. Postures of heros, doctors, and even families show an understanding of natural orders of power.
“Good guys” and “bad guys” are common archetypes in a preschool classroom; socio-dramatic and rough play helps children make sense of—and even feel more comfortable in—a world that can seem so complicated. Grasshopper teachers were interested to explore these archetypes, and lead to some interesting results.
Through discussion, the Grasshoppers suggested this basic understanding that “good guys” feel powerful by defeating “bad guys,” while “bad guys” take away power from others by means of force. Visit any preschool classroom, and you might hear of “cops and robbers,” or “superheros,” perhaps even discussion of current politics.
Children are insightful! Of course, the world is not so black and white, but it is easy for young children to feel powerless in such a complicated world.
One manner that the Grasshoppers can express power in classroom is by voting. Students are able to make democratic decisions about the activities in the classroom, destinations we visit, even the topics we explore and investigate.
An exploration of the power of voting was well timed with the judicial elections. As most adults know, voting is intended to be a manner by which the common person has a voice in larger decisions. On voting day, Grasshoppers visited a polling station, conveniently located across the street from PIC. Volunteers at the station invited us in, and even showed us the machine with which one casts their ballot.
We concluded our visit with a vote on the next place we might play, the Grasshoppers voices had power to choose an uncommon playground to explore and perhaps even feel more powerful.