Learning Together

" At the most fundamental level, the way you question me coveys whether you see me as an object or an agent, and furthers whether, in your eyes, my agency extends to being a thinker, artist, citizen, or ethicist." Dennie Palmer Wolf

Learning together is shaped by the image of the child you hold. Respect for children emerges from inviting children and supporting children to question you, debate with you, challenge your own thinking. Learning together is about setting aside your leadership in the classroom. Learning together is about coming to the experience as one of the co-investigators who are open to what inquiry unfolds. This model is never about the “right answer” for nothing shuts down inquiry as faster than “one true answer.”

Learning together is to engage in dialogue. True dialogue is about listening to understand, rather than be understood. Dialogue of this type is based on interactions between children and educators. It brings people together and invites conversations that extend into weeks and months. It is about an exchange of ideas that are given time to mature. True dialogue cannot be contained to a day or a week, it is at the heart of ongoing inquiry into a topic that is ever evolving and changing. Learning together does not have a destination; rather it celebrates the many divergent paths and side trips that emerge from the journey.

Learning together is to be uncomfortable, uncertain, and to experience disequilibrium. When you engage in learning together with children, having the answers, knowing the destination, expecting certain outcomes, are all indications that you are no longer co-learners. You are now the teacher imparting knowledge, rather that engaging in inquiry. When you realize that you are leading rather than learning, then it is time to revisit your role in the inquiry.

Learning together is the work that we do as educators, to hold space for children as they construct knowledge in their own way, at their own pace. Holding space is one of the greatest forms of advocacy in the classroom, made even more powerful when you can share with parents and the community why sustained inquiry and stances of co-learners are so important.