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Friendship, Memory and Intention Intertwine
September 5, 2023
It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.
-Fred Rogers, American television personality, 1928–2003

In “The Minnow Catchers: A Story of Friendship, Memory, and Evolving Intention by the Waterside,” early education teacher and Ph.D. candidate Ron Grady sets a scene:

“It is a cloudy Tuesday and Lucas and Jabari are hard at work near the waterside. Each is pursuing their own goal: Jabari is planning to catch minnows and Lucas is in search of frogs. Both children wish to capture, but their intended quarries and methodologies are entirely distinct. For some time, the two work amiably in parallel.”

Recounting Lucas’ effort to engage Jabari in building a river, Grady reflects, “When will a memory inspire a child to pursue a course of action that diverges from an ongoing pursuit? When is that same memory not enough of an impetus? How might this be influenced by a child’s beliefs about their pursuits?  Would Jabari have reacted differently to Lucas’s invitation, for example, if he had already caught a minnow? Does Jabari’s choice have to do with the fact that he believes catching a minnow is close at hand? …What about his own desires in this moment keep the memory of building a river from moving him to immediate action and, in the same way, inspire his friend to suggest a new course?"

Grady concludes, “Our work with young children invites us to be both witnesses to the events of their lives and eager supporters of their interior journeys. As such, it is important for us to honor the nuance in the minutiae of the everyday. The ostensibly mundane. Through a consistent acknowledgment of what [Deb] Curtis calls ‘children’s lively minds at work’ (2017)—even and especially in these mundane moments—we cultivate the ability to honor the true nature of each child’s journey with the reverence it requires. That is, the journey of living and expressing themselves as expansive, creative individuals in the world.”


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