Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Past, The Present, and The Future

As part of our math workshop, the first graders discussed what a calendar is, its usefulness as a tool, and how to create one in our workbooks each month as we progress through our math units.  One student, E.K., was tasked to fill out the calendar in her workbook, but went an extra step to denote P, T, and F for the days in the calendar.  As the present day was September 3rd, she noted that the 1st and 2nd were P (past), the 3rd was T (today), and the rest of the days in the month were F (future). This provided a springboard for our discussion about time for Project/Investigative Research, as well as more fertile ground for our discussion about time – past, present, and future.
 

N.B.:  Today is actually the present.
What is another way to describe the present?
I:  Now.
A.L.:  Right now.
What is the difference between “now” and “right now?”
A.L.:  “Now” means it can take a little while.  “Right now” means right away.

These new definitions helped us to clarify what the children mean by the present:  today, now, right now, right away, and past-future (per our previous conversation). Together the children thought about how to best define the past, and there was consensus that the past was something that has already happened.
 
C:  The past is the same as the future.  They are all things that happen.  Only the smartest person can answer that question [re: what the past, present, and future truly are].
A.C.: The past is Spring and Winter is the future.
N:  [Maybe] the past and future are like two different worlds that we haven’t been in.  New worlds.  You can go to in a time machine!  You go in a door, and we can go to the future or the past.  When a person dies, they would go to heaven and go to the past.  You go back, and back, and back, and back, to infinity.
J:  Yeah, to nothing.  Nothing is at the beginning.
N:  [Clarifies that at the beginning of time] there were no stars, no planets, no plants or animals.  If you go too far back, there is NOTHING, not even meteors.

What happens if you go too far into the future?
N:  Then there is EVERYTHING.  We can go into the future so we can get diamonds and we can be rich!
E.K.:  It’s complicated, because Jesus died and he came back to life and he really didn’t die. 
C:  If you are in heaven, you can see everyone and everything.
 
These comments generated a very lively (and quite unexpected) conversation about the nature of heaven and its place in time and space:  
 
Is there “time” in heaven?  Can you see past or present or future?
N:  It’s like my dog who died, and my grandmother who died, and they can look down and see us now. 
A.C.:  When you are up in heaven, you go up above the universe and see everything.
C:  But if you dig too far, you could go to heaven.  [Heaven] is like a big huge circle like the earth and it comes back around.
R:  If you jump from the sky into the world onto a trampoline, then you can get to heaven.
W:  Only dead souls can go to heaven.  There is like a platform in space.  When souls go past it, they go to heaven.  When rockets go, they just go further and don’t stop there. 
I:  I think I know what C. is saying.  If you dig too far, you will come out on the other side of the world. 
A.C.:  Heaven is above and under [ground] too because Hades is underground and the “baddies” go there and the “good” people go to heaven.  [In her work below, she tries to reconcile the ancient Greeks' concept of what happens when we die, the present (when people are alive on Earth), and the future (her present-day conceptualization of what happens when people die)]:
 
The past:  A dead man and Hades in the ancient Greek underworld.

The present:  The Earth right now.
Future:  In Heaven, St. Peter is opening the gate for two people.

Another student, C., used his drawing tools to demonstrate the relationship between the present and the future. As C. created his picture, he explained that the past is the future.  He put two pencils in a line and said that this shows that the past is the present – like two pencils drawing at the same time. 
 
So how old are you?
C:  Six.
So you will be seven in the future?
C:  Yes.
But when you are eight, seven will be in the past.
C:  So the future is the same as the past [with this comment, he seemed satisfied with his conceptualization].

PAST-PRESENT-FUTURE DRAWINGS
The children were then invited to try and draw out their understanding of past, present, and future using tripartite folded paper.  

Events in the past:


N:  This is my dad dropping me off to school this morning.


I: My mom is having me.


E.K.:  This is me in my crib.


C:  This is how the Earth was made, before humans were made.
The future:
 
R: I am at college.  I have tall legs.
E.K.:  Me in a graveyard.  Mother Nature talks to me and the sun comes out after the storm.  
A.L.:  Me and my best friend Alex are riding on jet packs. 
The present:  
 
Many children drew themselves drawing their past-present-future drawings: 
 
 
Both N. and G. drew the present AS a present, giggling at their play on words:
 
G:  (above):  Has drawn the present as a gift:  There is a man inside the present and a man made out of a present (and inside of a present).

 

N:  The present is a present!  It's a box within a box within a box within a box...

How can the present be like a gift?
A.L.:  It's like a gift to the past or the future...it's combinded [sic] with the past and future.  They are like friends. It's a friendship.  
A.C.:  The present is like a time we should enjoy.
 

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