We often hear about the importance of nature and the connection to nature in our environments. I want to go beyond the natural world to talk about creating connections to the living world. In our society with the proliferation of mechanical and man-made entertainment, why is important to create connections to the living world?
The living world is different from the natural world. The living world is the connection to people and our navigation of the social construct in which we live. Young children have an innate connection to the living world. Identified as a way of knowing, children seek meaning and create understanding by exploring through their senses. Children’s early experiences then scaffold their imagination. Children’s connection to the living world, processed through sensory experiences, lay the foundation for critical thinking.
As educators, we have the opportunities to support children in making sense of their world. The knowledge that we impart supports the formation of attitudes and orientation to the world. How we see children, impacts how they navigate through the world. Think about your messages about engaging with the living world. These are just a few areas of thinking.
Risk – do you support risk? Can children climb on tables? Do you have glass that children can carry? Do you see children as capable or in need of protection?
Problem Solving – do you allow struggle? Can children work and be frustrated? Do you resolve not to provide answers, rather discuss possible theories? Are you okay with children’s incorrect assumptions about the world?
Social Negotiation – do you wait to engage? Are children allowed to negotiate? Is there a difference between fair and equality in your classroom? Is it okay not to share? What are your own feelings about conflict and how do those impact your perceptions in the classroom?
To create a world full of wonder and discovery, we need to examine our own assumption about risk, problem solving and social negotiations. Our own experiences implicit or explicit impact how we react when working with young children. Understanding our own unspoken messages supports how we choose to engage with children.
How will you support children in their own ways of knowing?