Making connections - not just human connection, but also connecting ideas, connecting knowledge, connecting experience, connecting culture, history etc... and the interconnections.
Learning is like a giant dot to dot... I loved them as a child... following the sequence of numbers to discover the image at the end... The idea that many parts make up a whole picture. Which brings me back to the idea that if we are only supporting one or two of those dots... then a whole picture cannot be made... ie the hundred languages of learning. There are many ways to learn.
The above is an extremely detailed dot to dot with well over a thousand dots - but I have taken rather a large number of the dots away... so if you were to print this image out and try to join the dots together you will struggle to get the whole picture as it is... either you will give up, or invent where dots should be... these inventions will of course impact how the image turns out - you might be be to guess correctly... but it is more likely that your imagination will result in something very different.
Trauma has been something we have talked about on many occasions in Palestine - how to meet the needs of children with trauma... how to help the children connect the dots so that they can process what has happened and not start imagining what those dots are themselves and maybe create a reality that is even more nightmarish to process. We do not need to go into too much detail, but enough so that the children can make those connections without the need for invention.
Then there is this thinking of connecting dots in the sense of neurons... encouraging children to think, to reflect, to experience - to learn with their whole brain (which means signals from their whole body)
|image found on http://hmsmedscience.org/|
So what we need to be doing as educators is providing experiences that allows every child to make connections in their brains... to evolve, to develop... to learn... to play. We need to learn about how the brain develops, how it works, so that we can support the process. We need to be aware of sensory impact, including how the room impacts the child - how the sound impacts (is there constant noise, how loud is that noise... is it sound pollution rather than a healthy stimulus?); is the room visually over stimulating, or maybe under-stimulating, does it allow the child to feel competent or dependant, does it make the child feel significant or insignificant, does the child have an opportunity to experience diversity, how is the lighting etc; how does the room smell? Is it an inviting smell, or one that is disturbing - smell has a bigger impact than what you would think; is there space to engage the sense of touch, access to different materials etc access to gross and fine motor movements (engaging the outside as well)... is there space and time to engage the sense of taste?
Is the room designed to encourage social interactions - how do these interactions occur? Is there space for a variety of interactions - from small groups to larger groups? and even time to be alone when needed to process...
Are we as educators inspiring wonder, encouraging curiosity and giving time for risk and reflection - to allow those neurons to keep connecting...?
Each decision we make as an educator in how we design the learning space, what experiences we provide, what time we make available for a diverse play diet... will impact how those neurons connect... see the film below...
As teachers we also need to keep on connecting dots...
The above image is a little something I put together to try and explain my thinking about this - that we can have various ideas and theories, experiences and knowledge - but by visiting new places, participating in new experiences, interacting with others and sharing ideas we are able to make those blue links... making more connections between our own ideas... making more sense of the world as we experience it.
Play is a powerful tool in making these connections... for adults and children alike.... In this sense we are talking about Original Learning again...
In the coming weeks I will be writing about the dots and the connections I have made in the last 2 weeks... and also have been asked about to explain in more detail so that others can make connections that I did not have time to help with the connection at the time...
posts that link to this thinking...
Original Learning and Together-led Play
Metacognition and the Preschooler
Process not Product