|In the studio|
"What did you do today?" I asked a five year old student as we walked into the studio building.
"School," she said.
"What did you learn at school?"
"What's your favorite shape?"
She paused for a while, almost confused by the question. "Triangles," she said finally.
"Because it looks like pizza!"
Asking my students what their favorite things are has always been my go to question when I'm trying to get to know them better, but when I saw her confusion of the question it made me wonder what had caught her off guard.
I realized asking a young person to choose favorites was limiting to their personality. Why do we have to have favorites? What's so important about having favorites? Can we like more than one thing? Can we like them all?
They're innocent although loaded questions: "What's your favorite dessert? Who's your favorite Disney princess? What's your favorite day of the week?" It unknowingly places an arbitrary value on things, a value that doesn't matter. You're also assuming they have to have favorites, and that not having a favorite is out of the ordinary.
It's a hard habit to break, but I now ask students, "What do you like most about this? What's something you like about that?"
I found asking questions this way opens them up to a better understanding of the purpose of my question and perhaps a more thoughtful response. Instead of worrying about something's order of importance, they can concentrate on why they feel the way they do.
Is this nitpicking? Maybe. But I'm very nitpicky about making sure my students are fostering their creativity in the most productive ways possible. It makes them feel less pressured about why favorites are important and maybe (maybe) they'll worry less about being someone else's favorite, too.
How do you feel about favorites?
Do you dislike being asked that question?