Friday, 15 September 2017

A relationship with the third teacher...

I have been very fortunate to have been able to visit many preschools over the years... and to also interact with the educators working there. I have also been fortunate to have worked at a variation of settings allowing me to see different perspectives of how educators and children develop a relationship with the third teacher... their play and learning space.

Not all places that I have visited have been Reggio Emilia inspired, but there has still been an awareness of the way rooms are designed impact the children...

Over the years I have seen that sometimes (maybe too often) there is a gap in that theoretical awareness and it being practically applied... and also the idea (that I have referred to many times in this blog) that the Reggio Emilia Approach is so much more than developing the pedagogical environment and making it look beautiful.

Children and educators are making a learning journey together. If we left learning footprints then we should see them walking side by side with an equality. I think though sometimes the adult is having such an impact the the children's footprints cannot be seen. The adults, in their well-intentions, have created beautiful environments based on their own perspective of childhood - and the child's perspective is hard to find.
This does not mean that the children will not enjoy the environment, find it stimulating, be able to play and learn there... it is simply not my idea of what the Reggio Emilia Approach is about.
For me it is about the relationship between the third teacher and the children... and its relationship with the educators, and the parents and society... it is also about the relationships between the people...

As I mentioned in my post the other day about Border Crossing, it was the interaction with the people there that really opened up the exhibition and allowed me to take a step inside and make new discoveries... I was invited to leave my footprints there together with my guides (those I was learning with).

I entered a dialogue today about  children and bullying... and how ti seems to be more prevalent in schools than preschools here in Sweden (at least those places I have visited and worked in, and knowledge from friends and family)... is this just because younger children don't bully or is it because in preschools there is an active attempt to create an equality with the children... whilst in schools educators do not strive for that... there is a distinction - could this be why hierarchies also start to develop amongst the children - as they emulate what they think being an adult is?

Tom Shea in his filmed interview about play (your can see it HERE) mentions the trend that school education style of "TEACHING" is being pushed ever further down in years and into preschool settings, while he strongly believes (and I whole heartedly do too) that what should be happening is the "LEARNING" should be pushed up in the years and into schools... that play and relationships with the world around them should take a much bigger part of education than teacher-dominated teaching. We should be "enabling" learning.

So back to the third teacher... this relationship we develop needs to help the children to learn and play and explore and experiment and interact - and as educators our relationship with the third teacher needs to support us to enable the children to learn and play etc.
And just as educators need professional development so does the third teacher (the third educator maybe). We need to take the time to observe how it interacts, what sort of relationship it has with the children. We need to listen to the children and their thoughts about the space (both indoors and outdoors... I am a BIG believer that the third teacher is not exclusive to the indoor environment) - we need to reflect on how we adults interact (educators, parents, cleaners etc) - we all need to develop a positive relationship with the space we work and play in.

So what is needed to help those who need to make the leap from theory to practice...? Or are blinkered and think they are doing what they preach when they are not (and admit it, we have all met at least one of these educators). What can we do to help develop the reciprocal relationship with the third teacher... and to understand that it is one of many interactions that make up the Reggio Emilia Approach. We work as teams... so how can we strengthen the team.
Well I will leave you with that thought... my thought too, to ponder over the weekend. Not sure if I have any answers... maybe you have some ideas...?

The below images I have decided NOT to add the locations, because sometimes I think that adds status to some environments... instead, take the time to look at each image and see if you can see the child and the adult with equality... what is it in the image that makes you think that thought about it... Can you understand the philosophy of the learning space by just observing?

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