Dr. Lomino in China: March 3
MARCH 3: Work in the Factory
After a day in the Forest, the Factory is a sharp contrast. The windows are positioned too high on the walls to see out, so it seems like another world in here. It is a manmade world. Because the walls and floors are concrete, sound is amplified and echoes with children’s running feet and laughter. There are no soft surfaces and little color. No blue sky or green leaves overhead. Just the naked pipes and iron beams of an industrial ceiling. Maybe this contrast is a useful one, reminding me that a building is a good place for tinkering and construction, but I miss the fresh air, open sky above and the earth’s surface directly underfoot. Outside there are no barriers. Nothing separates us from nature. I want to pay particular attention to the differences in children’s behavior here as compared to the Forest. How can these two vastly different environments both contribute positively to a child’s development?
One group works on their clay pots, another spends time mixing cement in wooden trays. I guess they are making concrete blocks. I learn from one of the teachers that the children are not required to participate in teacher-led activities, so there were several playing in the giant sandbox and others scattered throughout the building independently playing. I am actually glad to see this, because one of my recommendations here is to provide more unstructured time in the various activity areas, especially the sand and water play areas. My greatest concern is the amount of noise because it is so amplified. My need for calm and quiet becomes more noticeable when I visit the Factory, and I wonder if the children become so accustomed to the volume that loud becomes normal, and they don’t even recognize what silence sounds like.
Today’s Insight: I think the Factory is a wonderful concept. I just wish it were a friendlier feeling place. A few adjustments might help, such as adding rugs and comfortable seating areas for reading, plus many more green plants and colorful walls. The Factory provides many tactile experiences so important for little ones. The company wants to ensure that children learn the basics of daily living which include sewing and woodworking. This is commendable, but actually everything for daily living can also be learned outdoors. Obviously it would not be as convenient as an indoor space for storing equipment and supplies and weather would provide challenges as well. I still need to process these thoughts a bit more.