An experiment involving colorful Legos, big pictures, and “Where Things Are From Near to Far.”
My excitement started to build after I arranged to give a presentation on urban planning at my five-year-old son’s pre-school. I thought, “This will be great, I get to do the classic, here’s-what -I do-at-work guest speaking gig in my kid’s classroom.” Moments later though, the excitement turned to, “Oh no. I just committed to teaching urban planning to pre-schoolers. How does one teach urban planning to pre-schoolers?” Why would I attempt this?
Beyond the thrill of starring in my son’s class and the fun of co-planning the event with him, I volunteered to do the presentation to challenge myself to find out how (and whether) urban planning can be taught to very young people. Urban planning is a broad and complex topic, and it wasn’t obvious to me how to engage a pre-school audience. Since he started attending the school, I observed other parents doing special presentations about their professions, and spicing them up with demonstrations like building a mini door frame. This inspired me to blaze confidently forward on the topic of planning, despite not having a solid teaching strategy or fun props (or so I thought—more on that later).
In doing the presentation, I also wanted to fill what I perceive as a big awareness gap. Young children read books and watch videos about doctors, builders, chefs, mechanics, pilots, and businesspeople. But not urban planners. Why? […]