Matan loves, and I mean LOVES, building things. A few weeks ago, before Sukkot, they had a competition in his school to see who could build the most creative Sukkah. He spent hours building two sukkot – completely on his own. One was made of completely recyclable materials including cut up plastic bottles for the window blinds and for the top of the sukkah (the skach) and the other had a traffic safety theme. They were really impressive.
Last week he came home declaring that now it was time to build an Ark. Since we are at the parsha in the Torah where Noah builds his Ark, it was appropriate that they would have this task at hand. This time it was an optional assignment, and Matan set to work with vigor. Now, I tend to sigh and get nervous when Matan gets started with a project of this sort. While it takes me an hour to drag him to do five minutes of math homework, he seems perfectly capable of sitting and constructing something for hours and hours on end. I knew, when he began, that I would be finding him up early in the morning gluing and building, and staying up late at night perfecting and finishing. There would be popsicle sticks everywhere, trips to the store daily to buy more supplies, glue dripping down the dining room table, and more. And, of course, I was right.
This project was technical enough that Josh got involved as well, and each night they would glue and paste and put together well after bedtime.
Matan proudly took his Ark to school yesterday, and I’m holding my breath that no one destroys it or messes with it before the judges (whoever that may be) have a chance to see it. While the Ark is part of a competition, Josh and I tried to make sure that Matan understood that the Ark itself, and the creativity that went into, is the reward. And that it doesn’t matter if he “wins” the prize. I think he seems to get that. It’s certainly a great lesson.
As a teacher who has heard gobs and gobs about Multiple Intelligence, I must say that it’s been very interesting watching Matan’s academic and intellectual progression. I was often told that not all kids learn the same way and that some may express their intelligence through music while others use spatial abilities, and still others enjoy writing, etc. It is very, very difficult as a teacher to tap into all of these intelligences and to grade the students on their performance in a way that plays to their strengths.
I certainly see that Matan’s intelligences are strongest in areas that aren’t classic school strengths. He does fine in school – but he really excels in these extra areas. And, as a teacher, I wonder if his teachers are able to see these intelligences that he has and to channel them appropriately. It’s very interesting to be on the parenting end of things; I know that I always appreciated students in my classes who had “classic” and “traditional” intelligences because it’s so hard to notice and appreciate the alternative. And now, my own son is stronger in those “alternative” areas. I appreciate that the school is providing an outlet for this type of expression – I just hope that it continues to do so, and to see these strengths that Matan possesses!