Seeing our City Through Their Eyes

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“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

My co-teacher and I hold a strong common value on community which has led us to dream about creating a field guide of our city, co-created largely by our children, to live in our center to be added to hopefully for many years.

Children see the world in a different light than adults do, in a way that I marvel at often. They prefer the box over whatever it came in, will hold on to a screw or rock they found on the ground on their walk to school, and they are hypnotized by parts of nature like tall green grass and busy squirrels and birds that we adults no longer even notice.

The Boston Globe recently wrote an article about Zoos being fake, and pandering to our adult idea of what these animals should look, live, and act like. David Grazian was interviewed and stated, Children experience the zoo in a much freer and exciting way. For instance, children at the zoo are always entertained and amused at the sight of “fill” animals that happen to roam the zoo grounds, whether they happen to be squirrels or pigeons or even pests like mice. Parents will argue with them: “We didn’t come to the zoo to see a squirrel because they’re so ordinary.” But the child is very conscious of the fact that the squirrel is actually a wild animal, is actually free, as opposed to the animals in the cages. The children have also not yet become socialized to value certain animals over others, so they tend to have a general appreciation for the animal kingdom.”

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Children have an ability to see this world in a way that we have long since forgotten. While we have a beautifully made map made by our atelierista showing playground, splash pads, and other areas of interest within out community – I wonder how much of what we choose as areas of interest are simply catering to our adult views of where children should be in our city. Yes – we have gone to almost every spot on that map and loved every single one, if asked, where would children suggest we go?

On our way to a local playground I told a group of my preschoolers my thoughts. I asked them to point out areas they liked, found interesting, or thought other children would like to visit.

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C:  “I think people would find these plants interesting because of their color. Everyone likes purple.”

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F:  “They thought these berries was dog poop but they are not, they come from somewhere…from that tree!”

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C: “You should include that house because I like that it’s gray and then you see there are bricks. They are hiding bricks.”

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E: “Look, it’s…it’s a cat, it’s a cat! Look, everyone, they have a cat…two cats!”

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F: “Can you take a photo of that house? I like it because it is like a rainbow. It is the rainbow house.”

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L (who also took the photo): “We should take a photo of those pretty flowers for the map because they are nice to look at.”

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

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