What personifies a community? The Webster's definition of community reads “a social, occupational or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which the group exists”. Many different early childhood pedagogies are in practice today. Some like Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Inspired experience more mainstream attention. Others include Lifeways, High Scope and Bank Street. These pedagogies feature one common goal they desire the best for children and function to educate children who are developing in life.
As educators can we love our practice while embracing another?
When educators talk about their pedagogy, they list all the beneficial aspects the practice offers children. As educators, do we represent a part of the whole community of early childhood education or do we represent only our part of a smaller community of practice?
All pedagogy features methodology to offer the early childhood community. Many of the practices that educators believe, represent unique ideas that were developed and curated by people, who collaborated for the greater good and shaped education to fulfill the mission of what personifies the best for children. When reading about different philosophies of education or talking to educators about different pedagogical practices two main ideas emerge. First, if an educator believes one type of pedagogy represents the best practice for children then they must solely practice that pedagogy and forget the others exist. Second, if an educator desired to influence their pedagogy and make attempts to practice it in a different way, or convey new ideas into their practice, there is a segment of educators that believe if change occurs, a whole system of learning will collapse and the children will suffer in development.
What common methods of practice are learner-centered pedagogies introducing in their schools?
Looking into this question further, I sought to understand the basic practices of three learner-centered pedagogies, Reggio Inspired, Montessori and Waldorf. There were common themes that I noticed. Terminology is different in each but the big ideas overlap.
· Observation and assessment are practiced by educators and are managed for each individual to assist the child's educational and developmental journey.
· The environment represents the third teacher and the aesthetic of the classroom contributes to the construction of knowledge in children.
· Children experience free choice of work within the classroom environment and are encouraged to experiment with the use and mastery of the materials. The construction of knowledge follows an active child directed process.
· The environment prepared by the teacher features ample room and supplies for children to function. The classroom is free of distractions and follows a visually simple color and organizational structure. The materials are inviting and develop wonderings in the children.
· Teachers represent co-learners and collaborators with children and guide children in the process of constructing knowledge.
· Hands on learning in environments that appeal to all the senses and adapt to all learning styles. Learning is creative in nature and open to interpretation.
· The methodology is grounded in child development and features different phases or planes the children develop through and inform the practice of the educators.
· The practice features a social and community based view of education where all members of the school community come together for a common goal.
The ideas listed above represent a small list and the interpretation of a practitioner instead of a scholar. As a practitioner I believe educators experience more in common and grow better together in a community of pedagogy. A community that features the greater good and a community that utilizes collective energy to address aspects of education that offer benefit to all children, while shifting the focus away from each other.
Another definition of community embodies “an experience of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests or goals”. I believe our community embodies the right intention. Educators only need to listen to each other and live open to the potential of all voices. A quote from a recent training explained how educators could cultivate their practice together. “Listening is not being bound by what we know”.
Let all educators listen for the greater good.