This morning started out pretty routine; I got up, got myself ready to go, forgot again that eating orange sections means needing to floss, and headed off to the RIE Center. I left a little bit later today, and didn't get caught in the high school rush; instead I got to hear the announcements over the loudspeaker as I walked by! The weather was a bit overcast this morning, so the jacket stayed on the whole way.
We started off the class by practising how to pick up and lay down a young infant (it's more complicated than you think, if you want to do it in a way that isn't too startling or disruptive to the baby). We talked a bit about slowing our pace in the presence of babies to avoid overwhelming its new and sensitive nervous system. It felt surprisingly comfortable to lift and replace the doll we were using with such grace and care; it was a far cry from the swooping and plucking I'm sure many of us are accustomed to performing! All the while, I was internally chuckling at a little voice in my head that cheerfully says "Chop-chop!"
As we talked about things like free play, intrinsic motivation, the progression of fine motor skill acquisition, and providing an appropriate environment in which infants can freely explore and naturally develop and hone their skills, we chatted about many things that many of us feel passionate about, like developmentally appropriate practise in public schools, academic pushdown, and so on. It is nice to be in a pocket of like-minded people, I must say!
I walked with a couple of other course participants down to Chipotle for lunch (there you go, American friends, I tried Chipotle) and found it to be a difficult place to order with a cilantro allergy, though I did find enough safe options to fill my belly. I'm not likely to go back, though.
In the afternoon, we wove together more threads in the free play/motor development/environment-as-third teacher (Reggio Emilia's words, not RIE's) tapestry. Running through that tapestry are core ideas like an infant's right to autonomy, choice, and freedom -- particularly freedom of movement. How often do we, as adults, unwittingly tell children that what they are doing has no value to us? How often do we railroad their play because we know how to use a toy the "right" way and want to show them? How often do we assume that the child wants what we think they want, without considering their individual preferences or giving them the chance to make a choice?
The day felt long to me, and when I was offered a ride (thanks again, Michelle!), I gladly accepted. My poor prairie-atrophied B.C. muscles were glad for the break from walking up the hill today! I braved the sketchy communal showers early in the evening, when they weren't too busy, and then tucked myself into my bunk with my laptop instead of hanging out in the common room like I had previous nights; I am feeling the need to have some alone time this evening. I did finally meet my third roommate while both of us were awake, though! I seem to be on basically friendly terms with all three of them, so that's good.
For those of you who are curious, no I did NOT buy the winning powerball ticket that was apparently sold in California. I did not buy a lotto ticket in the USA at all, anywhere. But thanks for daydreaming on my behalf!
P.S. if you'd like a postcard, email me your mailing address. I can't make any promises about followthrough here, but I'll do my best.