We're Jamming!Mar 31, 2020
Getting hands-on and creative, Lights On® style...
by one of our Lights On® Mums, Alice Khimasia
This morning, my 8-year-old woke me up to tell me he needed to film a ‘how-to’ video for his friends on the JAM.
The 3-day JAM is over, but the learning continues. He makes the instructional video and I am amazed. This is not something I have shown him, not even something I know anything about. But he is an expert. He has learned from his brothers and peers, and by playing around on his iPad.
His knowledge and abilities surprise me. I wonder what other talents lie undiscovered within him. He sits entirely absorbed as he continues to work on a couple of the movies he created during the event. When a child’s lights are on, the depth of their understanding, the level of their skills, will surprise us.
I like to be surprised as a parent. I confess I was skeptical about joining the JAM. I was anxious I wouldn’t have the capacity to show up and engage, preoccupied as we are by all that is happening in the world. And I wondered whether my sons would participate at all. But I decided to take the risk because I figured it might give us focus at this weird time, that it might just be a distraction.
I'm so glad we joined in because, again, I was surprised. Our involvement showed both my son and me a lot about ourselves as learners.
“Mum, how come you always say you’re no good at Lego and stuff?” he asked, “You really are better than you think!”
“Mum, did you know some computer games are really good for building mindset, and others not so much?”
How insightful our children can be when we listen and enable them to lead.
So what does learning look like inside the 3-day JAM?
We meet in an online space. As we explore the idea of encouraging and enabling our children to learn in the way that suits them best – letting go of our own preconceptions and ideas – we begin to share and discuss what we are up to in our home learning.
Observing and facilitating this discussion, Julia and Corinne encourage and guide, but ideas spark between the parents and children in the space, too. The enthusiasm spreads.
My two younger boys both found work they wanted to share. What one child is up to inspires another in the group. The enthusiasm is infectious. There are so many different projects going on in so many different homes around the world - obstacle courses, kites, robots, Lego, Plasticine, drawing, characters, stopmotion animation...
Over the first few days, themes and ideas emerge from the community. Observing this, and responding and listening, Julia and Corinne extract a brief from the children involved.
The brief involves 11 year old Myles’ character: Bob the Banana. From an initial drawing comes an animation. Bob has been eaten! This is such a superb example of the emergent curriculum and the way that this can happen in community. It is not planned. It is not constrained. It emerges from the people and the ideas gathered.
Myles is encouraged to pull together a brief we are all encouraged to run with. Of course, the idea may spin out in a myriad ways in different homes and imaginations. For some, learning might take off in a completely different direction as they pursue their own interests. But the way this group of families took hold of Bob’s story, creating and responding in the style and through the medium they chose was an inspiration.
There were written reports, drawings, animations, the creation of real fruity friends, interviews with suspects. My 8 year old was characterising, storytelling, film-making.
At the end, we had a wonderful showcase of children’s creativity, and a movie which Myles pulled together, incorporating the work of others. It was really sparky, a great example and experience of collaborative learning.
And, as my son’s ongoing engagement shows, there is no beginning and end to learning. It is all fluid when we are in our flow and having fun. No coercion necessary here.
I am sure the outworkings of this online gathering, the confidence and ownership it gave to our children and the new eyes through which we parents view our young learners will continue to reap dividends through this strange time at home and beyond.
Who’s coming to join us at the next one?
Lights On® JAMS are discounted to just £15 for the three days, and are running throughout April. Find out more and sign up here.
Post written by:
Seeing her eldest son's lights go out when he was 7, Alice took action to ensure his freedom to learn. She has been speaking and writing about her family's learning adventures ever since, and gave a TEDx talk in 2016. Alice is part of our Lights On® Academy and lives with her husband and 4 Lights On® Learners in the West Midlands.