Last year, I was able to spend time at the schools of Reggio Emilia. This post is part two of a three part series inspired by the ideas presented in that study tour. See Curating Mindful Inquiry part one, to read the beginning of the series.
In thinking about learning, I often reflect on how we welcome the children into a process of their own learning. Questions arise such as,
“How are the children the protagonist of their own education?”
Seeing the child as protagonist of their own learning shifts our view of who we are as educators in relation to children.
So, we must find ways as adults to co-exist with children in ways that support the relational development of knowledge. As humans, we shift our thinking to acknowledge that we socially contract meaning together. This requires us to examine our role as educators in children’s learning. To support children’s development as critical thinkers in a social context, we must shift from the act of teaching to the act of co-learning together.
When we adopt the stance as co-learners, we acknowledge our responsibilities to scaffold and support the specific ideas and theories that children bring forward into our classroom, programs, and our lives. We want to acknowledge through our relationships with children that we value their contributions and honor the way they live and learn.
We make the decision to work with a child – a unique individual who is never repeated. In valuing the uniqueness of every child, we then realize that our engagement with a child is not something that is mass-produced within the context of the classroom or through a curriculum.
We guide our values of the uniqueness of each child by acknowledging their competency to.
Form relations with the world around them.
Acknowledges the child is equipped for knowing about the world and competent about knowledge.
Understands the child’s what, why, how of engaging in learning is in relationship to their experiences in the home, schools, and community – it is locally focused.
Accepts the child is so involved in the world that they develop a complex system of thinking.
Recognizes the child is capable and learns directly from others.
Appreciates the child is capable and learns directly from others.
Realizes the mind is part of the body, the body and mind learn together, they are not separate, and the body is equipped with sensors to connect with reality.
Therefore, we, as adults, have a huge responsibility pedagogically, educationally, and ethically to make choices that acknowledge the child as competent. We recognize the holistic construct between nature, systems, and communities. We are both protagonist in engaging with the world around reflectors and us in understanding our relationship and impact our actions in the world in which we live. This ecological thinking supports us in thinking about the intersected ways of knowing that is the glue that holds learning together.
How does ecological thinking come into your practice?