Mr. Pat Helps, But Supports Self-Help

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For many weeks, Dryden has shown an interest in unusual rocks. He collects them near the schoolhouse. Today he has found a rather large rock, too heavy for him to carry. He requires the help of an adult. Watch this six-minute clip and reflect on the way in which his teacher, Mr. Pat, balances helping with encouraging the children’s planning. Note his strategy of not using his full strength, so the children will participate in the rock moving challenge. Below you will find our observations and interpretations surrounding Mr. Pat’s role in the experience.

00:00 – 00:33 The teacher behind the camera eliminates herself as a candidate to help, perhaps because she wants to capture the unfolding of this event with her video camera. She adds the strength of her voice to Dryden’s call to Mr. Pat.

00:33 – 00:42 Mr. Pat asks for confirmation from Dryden that he needs help. This positions the help as following a request from the child, as opposed to an adult taking over. In addition, Mr. Pat would like Dryden to put the problem into words. This could serve as a common understanding of what they will do together.

00:42 – 00:48 When Dryden says, “With that rock” Mr. Pat might realize that naming the object is not a full answer. It is only the object of the action, so Mr. Pat expands Dryden’s phrase into, “Where are you going with it?” The answer could give critical information to anyone who volunteered to help. The destination is a key variable in how one can help. Perhaps Mr. Pat is modeling how one plans a strategy for assistance.

00:48 – 01:00 Dryden answers, “To the school.” Once again, Mr.Pat wants to put the problem into words by asking, “Can you carry it?” Dryden makes a perfunctory attempt to lift the rock using one hand, and the teachers suggest that he try two hands. One might wonder if this proof-of-need was necessary, but it could help Dryden think about how he might solve the problem on his own by changing his strategy. Mr. Pat affirms the two handed strategy as “a good idea” but Dryden still is unable to lift the rock.

01:00 – 01:13 Now it has been firmly established that even with two hands Dryden cannot lift the rock. Both he and Mr. Pat have now established that the request for help does not come from a lack of effort or change of strategy. (Would you have helped sooner?)

01:13 – 01:33 Mr. Pat moves to the next step of direct help, now that he has established the clear need. But he still wants to follow explicit instructions from Dryden. Again, the thinking could pertain to planning. Notice how Dryden gestures a two-handed lift to Mr. Pat when he instructs Mr. Pat to lift the rock. Perhaps Dryden’s gesture resulted from the preceding steps when Dryden was illustrating the heaviness of the rock. When Dryden answer the question: “What do you want me to do?” with a statement of the goal: “Take it to school” instead of the strategy, Mr. Pat reasons that it is time for action rather than additional conversation , so Mr. Pat picks up the rock, using two hands.

(This analysis continues in the .doc file included in the folder that comes when you download this title). Run time 6 min 25 seconds