Drawing the Unseeable: Love and Remembrance

While we were talking about what love looks like and where it is inside of you, kindergartners illustrated what happens when your eyes see someone you love, or when you think about someone you love who isn't around any more. The use of metaphor by young children is a fascinating topic for teacher-research. Here the children went two steps into into the abstract by showing first how love works inside of them, and then the relationship between love and time, as when someone you love has died, or when you feel anticipation, as for a new baby. 

Ian drew how "love is a gumball machine, except instead of gumballs going down, the love goes up. When 
I feel love for my Mom, I feel my baby being born."
Here is poetic thinking made visible- the popping, colorful gumball machine of love for his Mom makes Ian feel the baby inside his own body instead of hers..

"Love comes when I see with my eyes, then turns to a song in my heart."
- Elizabeth

Tannin drew her fishtank, with a dead gold fish at the bottom. Then, using an overlay of tracing paper, drew 
love that is sadness between her and her fish.

"When I come home, my cat runs up to me. Love is a red string from my cat's heart to mine."

Acadia drew how it feels when she thinks about a relative she never met. 
"Sometimes I think about her- Aunt (?). She died 5 days after I was born."

Ella drew a sad kind of love that could come from looking at pictures
of pets who had died.

In her book 'The Point of Words: Children's Understanding of Metaphor and Irony', Ellen Winner writes

"Creative scientists often report that their most inventive ideas were the result of applying an observation about one domain to a very different domain, by analogy. The planetary model of the atom, the hydraulic model of the circulatory system, and the computer model of the brain are all models based on analogy. These kinds of metaphoric models are not just a clever way of making one's discoveries clear to others: rather, if we are to believe the reports of creative scientists, they are integral to the process of discovery....Metaphor helps us to acquire knowledge about new domains, and also has the effect of restructuring our organization of knowledge." (p.116)
The willingness children have to hypothesize about abstract ideas, and to test and communicate their theories visually, is a constant source of wonder to me. I am inspired by their tendency to bounce between the concrete and the abstract, the magical and the ethereal. It does seem to be a way of restructuring the organization of knowledge. I want to live in that world- where I can learn as much from an anatomical model of a human heart as from drawing about how I feel when I think about my old dog Bill.


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