Wednesday, August 29, 2012

10 tests of Avraham

I thought that asking 10 yo come up with his own list of 10 tests of Avraham would be a nice wrap-up of the parsha, and would force him to go back and review without me having much input. Well, while the research and the thought process was quite independent, the project was not. He asked if he can use printer paper--we usually recycle our project paper by using the other side of already printed pages or junk mail. I said, yes, figuring that he is motivated to produce neat project. His first step was to fold all the pages in half, like a book and then staple them like this:
In his defense, we have a mini-stapler which does not reach across a folded page, and it is a creative solution. My perfectionist side cringes deep inside. I always liked to use a ruler to draw a faint line, then trace the letters in pencil, then go over with the marker, then erase all pencil marks... This child is obviously more into substance than beauty.

Next, he started illustrating the tests. I told him they have to be in the chronological order, and that he has to list a source for each. He deadpanned that some are from the midrash, so there is no pasuk. Fair enough. However, he was recreating his list from memory, and by fourth page he realized that he skipped one. Now he was looking for the list he wrote yesterday. He could not find it. I reminded how putting everything away in its proper place helps. he still could not find it. I told him to check his notebook. Sure enough, he wrote the list inside, just did not remember. Now he had to fix his anachronistic test. He took a piece of paper and taped it over the wrong page. The feel of the book was no longer neat, but it did satisfy basic requirements. 

Next came listing the pesukim. He did find all the pesukim that he was illustrating, but, after writing out the first one, he settled for an abbreviation: pasuk's number, perek's number, parsha's number, sefer's number. This way, Akeidat Yitzhak became tet-cav bet-dalet-aleph. I am sure there is a job in cryptography waiting for him somewhere.

The real kicker came when he realized that he needs to illustrate the brit mila (circumcision). He threw his hands up in the air and said: What is it that I am supposed to draw? Avraham's (private parts)? His brother suggested drawing Avraham in a diaper; they have been to their share of circumcisions. 8 yo responded that Avraham was too old to be in a diaper. I held my breath, wondering what he will come up with. This is the result:
Very frum and proper, as you can see.

This reminded of an old joke: a guy needs to have his shoes fixed, so he sees a boot painted on the storefront and walks in. The owner says: I am not a shoemaker, I am a mohel. The guys asks, then why is there a shoe hanging on the sign? The owner responds, and what was I supposed to paint on the sign?

Now that the project is complete, I am looking at it and thinking: did it accomplish the goal I had in mind? Did he work independently? Yes. Did he review the perakim? Yes. Did he think back about these two parshiyot? Yes. So, despite it not being museum-quality, it fulfilled all educational objectives. And it was quite creative and resourceful.

I will end by directing you to this TED talk, on the subject of schools and creativity (thanks to my friend for bringing it to my attention):

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