The Puzzle of Life Solved By...
Jack and Owen

If you regularly read my articles on Wolverton-Mountain, you have read about Jack asking me what I was doing while teaching an online art history class. He was three years of age and saw some painting on my PowerPoint for the class. I told him the name of the painting and the artist. Jack toddled off only to return to ask about another painting. Thus began his college education several years prior to kindergarten. Today, he knows over 50-paintings and who painted them. I kid you not. Owen, who is Jack's two-year-old brother, has already started his college art history class, and he is not yet three.

I and the Village by Marc Chagall fascinate Jack. Interestingly, I had that painting in my dorm room while in college.

Chagall's I and the Village

Chagall's I and the Village

Jack is pointing out his home in Chagall's village.

Jack is pointing out his home in Chagall's village.

Jack will tell everyone that I and the Village is his favorite and shows the person his home in the painting. Then he adds that William Turner's The Fighting Téméraire is Papa's favorite.

If we watch and listen, children can teach us a great deal. The teaching and learning process is a two-way street. We, as adults, miss a great deal of our learning when we see it as only a one-way avenue that of teaching youngsters.

Al, Jack, and Owen

Owen identifies van Gogh's The Langlois Bridge at Arles and calls it the Bridge.

I do not know why Jack likes I and the Village, but he does. I have attempted to grasp why what he sees and likes about that painting for two years. I have wondered whether he likes Chagall's painting, because he identifies in the painting the way he sees the world. Jack, Owen, and the rest of humankind enter life as infants having never seen our world before. It is a strange new world, and they begin the process of attempting to make sense of everything they see. I have mentioned this before in other articles, Jack will ask why all the time until you give him an answer that makes sense to him...from his perspective.

I was down in Indy several weeks ago, and Jack and Owen were playing with a computerized puzzle in which they could drag the various pieces of the puzzle to the correct place within the puzzle's frame. They have many wooden puzzles with which we have played over the years. This computerized puzzle is merely a techy version of those puzzles with which they love.

Each of us, as we begin our childhood, played with puzzles. At a microcosmic level, we were attempting to get the pieces of the puzzle together that is before us. At a macrocosmic level, we were attempting to put the pieces of life itself together. We all labored to understand this strange new world into which we recently found ourselves.

It is the desire to get all the pieces together by which children attempt to order their chaotic Weltanschauung (worldview). Therefore, I and the Village is just a painted puzzle. In some manner, I feel that Chagall's memory of his village in Belarus reflected the way he understood life in his childhood. Jack, Owen, and all very young children do not see or understand all that lies before them in their world. Their first handful of years is a process of putting the pieces together to make sense. That is the reason that Jack will ask why until he can fit together all the pieces of life together from his perspective.

At the other end of the age spectrum, I love Turner's The Fighting Téméraire. It has been my favorite since taking The Arts in my junior year in college and then helping my professor, Louie Palmer, to teach some sections during my senior year. The Fighting Téméraire is a painting about which it seems that one must have a different Weltanschauung than what Jack or Owen might have. I know the history of the ship, I understand why Turner painted it, I know about the passing of the age of sailing ships, and I am aware of his dislike for the Industrial Revolution.

The Fighting Temeraire

The Fighting Téméraire

I would like someone who is into early childhood development respond to my contention that Jack and Owen have solved the question of why some paintings are important to them and others are not. Jack's knowledge and comment about Turner's The Fighting Téméraire being my favorite painting is derived from knowing that I love that painting. Nevertheless, I think that when Jack sees Chagall's I and the Village, it brings to mind a sense of familiarity with his desire to fit the disconnected pieces of his new world in which he and all other children are attempting to make sense.

Connecting The Dots

Connecting the Dots

Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.

An old man and his grandson

An Old Man and His Grandson

Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.