Today I have been sharing many images of preschool settings around the world with the educators here in Palestine... with the words do not try to copy this, that I am not expecting them to agree with what they see, or what I show is the right thing... merely that I show them many spaces designed in many ways... so that they can see the possibility of what can be done.
A learning space does not have a fixed look.
I talked about the importance of observing how the children use the space they have, are there areas that encourage the children to run and maybe crash into other children's play... and how can furniture help them create spaces where children cannot pick up speed... but at the same time being aware of providing a space and time for children to run freely.
I talked about being aware of colour... that it is not enough to choose bright colours just because it is thought children like them... that as educators we need to reflect on how colour affects the brain and affects the learning... colours that aid learning, that aid focus should be chosen, not colours and colour combinations that overwhelm, over-excite and overstimulate... sure these colourful moment can happen, but not for prolonged period of time.
I brought up how noise impacts children's learning... and if too loud impacts their hearing, and if really loud (like it often is here) can actually cause permanent damage. We talked about how materials and furniture can be added to help absorb some of the sound, so that walls do not just bounce around and add to the problem.
I brought up the need for small spaces so that children have the opportunity to get away and be calm for a while, or engage in play with just a few other children. The need to bring the ceiling down in at least some areas so that the children can feel bigger, more powerful... many places here have high ceilings - very high ceilings... which is great for me as a tall person.
We talked about the availability of materials... how are they being displayed and how the room helps you as an educator to support the children in their play and learning - to be independent and capable.
We also talked about using the outdoors as a learning space, and the importance of being outside for full body play and learning.
The idea was to share lots of inspiration and thinking so that they reflect on the children, on what works... and of creating a learning space that is more Palestinian. Many spaces have Disney and Spongebob on the walls rather than taking advantage of the beautiful traditional Palestinian patterns to accent a room... also many of the learning materials are downloaded from the internet and tend to be incredibly American based... so I talked about the the dangers of a single story... that if their Palestinian children saw stories, films, and learning materials from only an American point of view, then this will become their inner story too... learning cards etc should not be blonde blue eyed children and police cars and buses and doctors of an American kind - but they should be images of how they look in Palestine.
In the same way Palestine is so much more than just fighting, guns and bombs - it is good food, beautiful nature, music, singing, stories, ancient history, embroidery, laughter, love and life like in any other country... they have many stories to tell...
and in this blog I tell the story of Palestine and early years teachers and play.
The room should be a Palestinian colleague - that can share about the world... but not an American colleague that forgets the story and beauty of what Palestine has to offer... even the educators here have been amazed at the photos of flowers and nature that I have been taking... they too have forgotten some of their nature story...
In Sweden, my room/learning space for the children should reflect our common Swedish story... with a window out to the world... always open to learn and to encompass, but never forgetting who we are. And sometimes who we are in a group is international and that should be reflected in the room too... not single story...
|images taken 3 years ago at a center for young children here in Jenin...|