What is perfection and how does it relate to learning through play? I’m hoping to illustrate this for you here so if you’re curious, read on…
The dictionary defines perfection as the state of being flawless or free from defects. If you regularly read simply.cindy you know I’m always writing about play. The dictionary defines play as intrinsically motivated activities related to pleasure and enjoyment.
So how does perfection fit into a play based preschool program? Or does it fit in at all?
As a preschool teacher I know the emphasis needs to be squarely on the process and not the product. Why? In my mind, it is because by emphasizing the process we emphasize things like skill development and building traits of character like determination, patience, perseverance and such. For these little people who are completely egocentric, experiencing success and feeling comfortable to take risks is critical. If the emphasis is on the product then a child may not experience success. If the emphasis is on the product then a child may not take risks. Without risk taking, there can be no learning. Without experiencing some success, there will be no confidence to take further risks. Does this mean at preschool no child ever strives for perfection?
I find that if a child has an idea, her own idea, then that child is intrinsically motivated to work much harder on the task. In fact, that child is willing to work on that task, fail, try again, fail, and try again repeatedly until that child feels satisfied that it meets with her original vision. If that is not striving for perfection, then I do not know what is.
Will the end product meet the standards of perfection as defined by an adult? Maybe not. But who decides when something is flawless? And what gives a person the right to judge the work of another?
The key here in preschool is that the vision of what needs to be accomplished belongs to that child and no one else. And the child decides when the work is finished. I truly believe that intrinsic motivation is the only path to perfection. What do you think?