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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Process over Product

 In the Parksville school today, I had the pleasure of watching a 4 year old quietly painting at the easel.  It was her relaxed posture that drew my attention at first but then I noticed the large, blue triangle she had painted in the middle of her picture.  It was a nearly perfect  isosceles triangle.

Transfixed, I watched as she completely filled in the triangle and then painted another one, upside-down and smaller, jutting out of the top of the big one.  I wondered if she was going to continue filling the page with blue geometric shapes or if she would turn the shape into something else.

Never try to predict the creative direction of a four year old child.........


The triangles began to sprout appendages.



The appendages looped in upon themselves and were filled in with colour.








At one point, the artist realized she'd painted onto the easel so she carefully lifted the paper to clean before she resumed painting.


Now long lines began to emerge at the bottom of the blue.


The lines became rectangles and were quickly filled in with paint and..........


Well, I'm sure you've realized where this is going. 
 Eventually, the entire paper was filled in with beautiful blue paint. 


 Only then was the painting finished.   A wonderful example of a young child focussing on the process involved in a task rather than on the finished product.

We often hear the phrase 'process over product' in reference to the creative arts.  However, in a Montessori classroom, children can be found completely absorbed  in the process of just about anything.  It is the DOING of something that is important because doing leads to mastery.  Doing is the reason why teachers will allow a child to work with an activity for great lengths of time.  As long as constructive learning is taking place, a child will not be purposely interrupted.

I have witnessed a child engrossed in the feeling that scissor make when being used to cut different kinds of paper.  On another day, I've watched a child immerse himself in the process of washing a table, lost in the full arm movement required to make little circles with the brush over the table's surface.  I have even watched a child completely absorbed in sweeping the smallest particles into a dust pan.  Process is the most important part of any learning in which a child engages.

In the example of the painting (above) the child never invited a teacher or another child to see the picture.  In fact, while she painted, the little girl was almost oblivious to the rest of the classroom.  She was totally focussed on the process of painting blue.  When she was finished, the child matter-of-factly cleaned up and went on to her next activity never giving the painting another look.

I wonder if she even remembered to take the painting home.