Saturday, 9 November 2013

Mothers of the world...

Leigh Ann Yuen from Garden Gate Early Childhood Development Center said, in response to my anger about how the evaluation of my son is progressing,  that "Truly it is the mothers of the world who will make a difference and make change."

It made me think back to the 1940's to when the Reggio Emilia preschools first started -  coming together with the hope that their children would never just accept but would have the strength to think and make their own decisions, as they salvaged tanks and other remnants of the Second World War to create and fund preschools "a demanding task - not for the lack of determination but rather a lack of experience. We were breaking traditional patterns" (p.51 The Hundred Languages of Children 2nd edition)

I rather like my own personal links with the whole Reggio Emilia philosophy...
my grandfather had started the war in northern Africa and had worked his way up Italy, being in the middle of some horrendous battles - Monte Cassino for one. BUT as the war ended he was marching on his way to Austria to be debriefed (and to meet my grandmother - but that is another story) and on his way he marched through Reggio Emilia and saw the women, and others, rummaging for bricks and washing them to create the first preschools.

The first municipal preschool was called Robinson in 1963 - this is the year that my parents met - and Robinson Crusoe, Defoe's hero comes from York - as do I.

Silly little connections in life - but sometimes these connections feel like a circle completed somehow. 

IF the mothers of Reggio Emilia could initiate preschools that have had such influence over how we think about children and respond to them just by daring to start something DIFFERENT then maybe its time for mothers to come together again and ensure that children are getting the education the NEED rather than the education that has been.

explorations on the light table - art, science, nature, mathematics...

Society is forever evolving - and there will be those that will say "the good old days" and there will be those that will look back and shudder. 

I look back at what has been said over the years about pedagogy and get so frustrated because we seem to know what children need but never actually seem to get round to providing it...

from the book "Early Childhood Education - History, Philosophy and Experience" by Nutbrown, Clough and Selbie - here are some ideas over the centuries showing that how Malaguzzi viewed the child was not new in itself - but the fact it was happening - and over a sustained perios of time WAS/IS...

Socrates 469-399BC - teaching through the learners questions, the importance of philosophy and of talking with others about life's questions (why I like working at a preschool with a philosophical profile) QUOTE "Wisdom begins in wonder"

Comenius 1592-1670 - He believed that teachers should understand how a child's mind works and promoted education that was "thorough, natural and enjoyable" and opposed to rote learning for all children regardless of gender or class

Pestalozzi 1746-1827 children should learn through activity, through things rather than words, and be free to pursue their own interests and draw their own conclusions

learning about insects

Fröbel - 1782-1852 - started a business for play and other educational materials to simulate learning through well directed play activities accomanied by song and music

Mason 1842-1923 - promoted the use of senses in learning and learning through experience and the outdoors

Dewey - 1859-1952 - a pedagogy based on ideas of democracy and child-centredness and what became known as the "project method" where teachers and children worked on ideas and found solutions to questions together. Dewey promoted ideas of child-centred education, of activity and interaction, of education as part of the social world of children and their communities. QUOTE "I believe that education ... is a process of living, not a prepapration for fututre living" (Dewey 1897)

Macmillan sisters 1860 - 1931 - learning and the outdoors

Steiner 1861-1925 - education is an art - creative, progressive, social and individual. QUOTE "the child has fantasy, and this fantasy is what we must engage"

Montessori 1870-52 - observed that learning happened through repetition, concentration, imagination, and that learners need to be independant in their actions while making their own decisions about what "work" they should do and learning how to control their own actions.

learning about sea creatures in rock pools
Isaacs 1885-1948 - individual development and joy in discovery. She argued that children need a subtle balance between explorative freedom and emotional expression and the need for mild , yet firm, supporting control to protect them from their inner anxieties and agressive impulses.

Schiller 1895-1976 - child-centred teaching and advocated the arts.

Vygotsky 1896 -1934 - learning as a social exchange, that young children learn through interaction with other children and adults.

Piaget 1896-1980 - learning as a process which evolves as the result of children interacting with the environment
learning about the sucking reflex of calves

Erikson 1902-1994 - his work supports the development of programmes in ECE which foster positive self esteem and exploratory learning through play

Tanner 1904-1988 - believed that is was essential for teachers and children to study natural things and that the arts and crafts, music and poetry should be central to primary education.

11 month old and face to face with crimson rosellas in the Dandenongs

David Hawkins 1913-2002 -  drew from his work at the Mountain View Center for his influential 1973 book, The Informed Vision.  Here, he presented theories, such as “I, Thou, It,” “Eolithism,” and “Messing About” that attracted attention internationally.  Loris Malaguzzi, architect of the world-renowned schools for young children in Reggio Emilia, Italy, deemed The Informed Vision essential reading for all teachers.
I am going to be doing some posts about my interpretation of Hawkins during these last weeks of 2013. And I will be focussing on "The Informed Vision".

So really, what is happening in education? For centuries we seem to have been saying the same thing that children need to learn through play, interaction, with joy and with interest. And yet they continue to sit behind desks and be forced to be treated like empty vessels that need to be filled. The system seems to continually forget that children are not empy - they are filled with wonder and ideas that they need support to explore and learn... why not harness that power?

Mothers of the world - is it not time we stood together and demanded that our children receieve the opportunity to LEARN and not to be force fed an education?
We have enough research over the years to back up our demand we just need to all shout out together to be heard!

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