Not A Box

I remember many years ago when I went to the bookstore and found, Not A Box. What a perfect story!

This book speaks to the power of imagination. It speaks to the power of creativity. And I think that it helps illustrate the importance of “student voice and student choice.”

Imagine if the main character in this story was restricted by rules. Imagine if he couldn’t create what he wanted. What would have happened if someone silenced his voice? What would have happened if someone restricted his creativity?  I wonder about using this video (or the story version) as a provocation. What might the students create? What would they research to find out more about? How would they share their new learning with others? With limited direction, what would they do?

I think about this because just the other day, I explained Passion Projects to my students. For us, this is predominantly an at-home assignment, and never before, have I seen students quite so excited about homework. They were buzzing with ideas and eager to get started. Even today, I heard them speaking about their projects when they came in, during lunchtime, and at the end of the day. The project is totally open-ended and all students found an entry point. The “open choice” was exciting for them, and they embraced it.

So what might happen if we gave adults a Passion Project? What if we used the box provocation with them? Would they embrace the open-ended challenge or look more for rules/restrictions? Why? I’m curious, for as adults — and particularly as educators — I think that we’re used to a “rule environment.” I think that many find comfort in restrictions, and I understand that. But what kind of learning (and thinking) happens with fewer restrictions? How can we all come to simply enjoy an “open-ended box inquiry” (or at least what this open-ended task represents)? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


6 thoughts on “Not A Box

  1. Aviva,
    I think those of us who are reading your post already enjoy the type of “open-ended box inquiry” you’re talking about. 🙂 We choose what to learn and how to learn it. I’m glad your students are embarking on passion projects! Enjoy the messy learning!

    • Thanks for the comment, Joy! For me, this “open-ended box inquiry” is different than what I’m used to, and I wonder what others have to say that may be just starting with this type of inquiry as well. It’s great to be connected with so many people that are “experts” in this area! I’m definitely looking forward to beginning this messy learning! 🙂


    • Thanks for the comment, Yusra! I think that this box activity provides a neat opportunity for wondering. Say a student thought that the box was a train. What does he/she know about trains? What do trains look like? How do they move? Why are there so many wheels on a train? These questions could lead to further exploration and research, ending in student sharing what he/she knows. And this process is the inquiry. Does this help?

      Miss Dunsiger

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