Breaking the Rules

Breaking the Rules

Let go! Declare this week as “getting it wrong on purpose” week. Push boundaries. Break rules. Make messes. Play. Open the space for creativity, not just accuracy. All the teaching you want to do is possible when children know the space is safe for risk-taking.

You can make the mess outside on the deck, if you get the heebie jeebies thinking about glitter embedded in your carpet and velvet chairs. But not all messes are artistic or physical.

For instance, what would happen if you added fractions without finding common denominators first? Can you compare the “wrong” answer to the “right” one using measuring cups and flour? What did you discover? What happens if you bake muffins where you double some ingredients but not others?

Try making a mess of reading. Pick a picture book and start by reading a page in the middle. Or read the last page first. What do you think you know about the story? What can’t you know? Read it straight through now. Now read a picture book backwards—start with the last page and read each page before it until you get to the first page. What was that like?

What other messes can you make? How about a kids’ “Declaration of Independence”? What would your kids put in a declaration like that? What demands would they want to make of you? Can they follow the model of the US Declaration or will they come up with a new model?

How can you turn a beloved fairytale hero into a villain and vice-versa? What storyline changes would need to be made?

What else can they get “wrong”?

How about reinventing punctuation—all their own marks that signify whatever they want to indicate.

  • Maybe they make a squiggle mark that when read means raise an eyebrow.
  • Maybe they put triangles at the end of sentences when they want you to slow down and reread a sentence.
  • Maybe they use a loop to indicate that this word should be shouted.

Breaking the rules means violating the habits of thought we take for granted. One way to promote critical thinking is to violate all your expectations and make a big mess and see how that breaks open new ways of thinking and knowing.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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