Language mediates - words allow us to understand and access a whole range of experiences, thoughts and emotions. We try hard to infuse specific words and phrases into our sessions: prototype, iteration, create, imagine, problem solving, what if, trial, test, check-in etc. These words help give shape to thought processes… Among the most exciting measure of growth and change that we’ve noted is how our kids have integrated these words into their vernacular.
This idea was made especially salient recently by one of our participants, Parker. In reflecting on a challenging situation at school, instead of focusing on the effort and difficulty he described the experience as having gone to the “the creative and imagination gym.” He hit an obstacle that in the past might have turned into a sinkhole; however, rather than spiral he had a practiced vocabulary that allowed him to view the experience as something other than a hinderance. So now instead of focusing on how it didn’t work out, he discussed it as a work out. Semantics!
Now, Parker didn’t simple learn these new words and run with it - he had to flex their definitions in context. We worked hard to overlay and encourage use of these specific words in those frustrating moments when cardboard cut outs didn’t look exactly as intended, when he didn’t get to pursue a prefered theme or when a difficult moment arose with a peer. And we continue to work hard to do so... We talk “up, not down” to the kids so that they might have the words to stand “up” to and for whatever challenge comes their way.
*For those of you who have yet to discover the wonder of Maria Popova’s blog - it is absolutely worth your time. Also, her weekly newsletter is a Sunday morning gift if you’re looking for something to nourish your mind with that cup of coffee/tea/OJ/cocoa/funky smoothie or juice.