- Marju Wise
Is Change Good? Developing Habits Of Mind And A Culture of Thinking With The Butterfly Community
Updated: Jun 2, 2021
This is the full story of the Butterfly Community as it has revealed itself to us this year so far. Please click the image below to watch our story unfold.
Here is a glimpse of what you will find inside my story (also find links to some of the resources we used as we learned):
This year, I feel lucky that I am able to learn alongside 29 grade 4 students. Each of these children have their own rich personal stories and came to our classroom community with a variety of ideas about what thinking looks like and feels like.
Before the beginning of the school year, I began thinking about the concept of change: the changes wrought because of the pandemic and change as it connects across our curriculum. I considered all of the changes that have happened historically and how they have shaped our society today.
I wanted my students to reflect on this idea of change and consider its impact on them personally, and on our world in general.
And so, this year, we have been exploring the big idea of change. As we explored and played with the theme of change, we wondered together:
Is change good? When is it good?
How is change bad? When is it bad?
Is it always one or the other?
How do we respond to change?
How do other organisms respond to change?
How does change impact us?
How could we embrace change?
When is change necessary?
How can we act to bring about change?
Throughout the year, I really wanted to create an environment where my students felt valued and respected, and felt like their ideas were important and powerful. I wanted them to see that others ideas also have value, and that it is important to look at all situations from multiple perspectives.
Our community is named the Butterfly Community, and the name grew out of this idea.
The butterfly is a symbol of change, hope, endurance and personal transformation.
Inspired by the possibility of using the butterfly as a metaphor for our learning
community, we sought to understand more about the insect that might become our namesake.
We started by thinking about a quote from Leah Ann Taylor: "We are all butterflies, and earth is our chrysalis.”
Ari: "I think it means that everyone is unique as butterflies are all unique from each other."
Josh: "I think it means that we should find happiness and joy in life, and that we are all changing all the time. It means we should be happy with what is ahead of us."
Kara: "I think it means that we are all connected and unique at the same time."
Kaia: "I think change is good because without it, we wouldn’t try anything new."
Gabriella: "Our home is like a chrysalis because we grow up in our home. Sometimes we feel a great idea that helps us to spread our wings and fly."
As you can see from the documentation, the children really connected to the idea that change can be a positive force in our lives and it holds transformative power.
My hope was that children would find safety in change and uncertainty. However, I also wanted to complicate and disrupt the simplicity of this theory throughout the year. I knew I wanted to create opportunities for my students to question this emergent theory, while at the same time questioning the stories they heard about the world around them.
Throughout the year, our exploration into the theme of change took us to some really interesting places. We inquired into some big questions that emerged, like Lena's question: "Do bugs have souls?" This led us to think more deeply about the conscious act of humanization and empathy. We asked: How can we get to know someone or something better? What can we learn from experiences that are not our own?
Because we are all proud to live, learn, and play on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Okanagan/Syilx people, and we wanted to uncover what change had looked like for the Syilx, and Indigenous People in Canada, in order to challenge our early, emergent theories about change.
As we were making meaning together, we:
Learned about the Four Food Chiefs and How Food Was Given
Using the Sinixt teaching in Natural Dying
Created a métissage to make sense of and appreciate Indigenous perspectives
Explored the beaded timeline to learn about the long history of Indigenous people in our area
Created our own 'story balls' as the children considered the events of their own lives and determined which events were significant and important to them
Created our own historical timeline as we grappled with what stories needed to be told, and what it meant for an event to be significant enough to be included in our timeline
Explored the idea of Sinixt court case before the Supreme Court of Canada and wondered about how borders communicate power in our world
Investigated a variety of maps to make sense of borders, both past and present as we thought about the question: what stories might maps tell?
Explored treaties through metaphor, through video, and through primary documents
This story is still unfolding as our year is not yet done.
In reflecting on how this year has felt for all of us in the Butterfly Community, Ann Pelo’s metaphor of teaching as improv keeps coming to mind.
It has been an exercise in trust and in offering thinking to each other, knowing that the other will pass back something that will extend and amplify our thinking. When Lena asked if bugs have souls, or Tim asked if a timeline tells a story, they were offering up their hearts and minds. To not take up that offer and offer something back would have been a missed opportunity.
By Marju Wise