Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Innovation/Adventure as Research

Yes, prior to my visit to Reggio Emilia, it was in my realm of thinking to use the word 'research' to suggest that when a child had a theory s/he should go with a teacher and peers to find books to confirm or dispute the theory.

I am now able to view 'research' in a transformative and seemingly earth shattering way! 

'Research' is clearly a means to innovation! Did I not already have that understanding? Did I not always know that the word 'research' meant to discover, imagine, find out or learn? Did I ever really think that 'research' was asking for rules? Nope!

Clearly 'research' is a searching for something that is new and innovative!

I think that my idea of research also had a clear ending, for example, when the problem was solved the research was over.

Wow! How fun could each day be if 'research' were constant; if 'research' were defined as a search for meaning through marvelling, and looking through a lense of curiosity and amazement. The joy of learning could be manifested as an adventure and 'research'!
For example, I know that at some point in my teaching experience a child has said something like: "the plant will grow until it touches the sun!" With the above idea of research as innovation and adventure, my new and transformed way of responding could look like this: 
I might ask the questions, perhaps to myself as a teacher first:
How high is the sun? Does a plant need the sun in order to grow? What other type of light might a plant need to grow? What is the sun made of? What conditions does a plant need to endure? How hot could a plant become before burning? How close could a plant get to a heat source without burning up? Can anything touch the sun? What kind of impact does the sun have on things that are too close to it, for example planets?

If these were the type of questions that intrigued my learning group and participants in the group continued with more questions with a similar passionate fervour, a deep learning and knowing project about the sun and the solar system might result rather than a study of plants and what they need to grow. Who knows? 

As a teacher, I could then focus on ways to bring information to the child and group in order to learn and know about the possibilities within the child's theory, "the plant will grow until it touches the sun." Together we would then select and narrow the field for our study.

My subjective questioning and ensuing dialogue with colleagues, would lead me to creating provocations for deepening thinking. I might offer a variety of light sources alongside a variety of plants or seeds and soils. I might present a graphic representation of the planets with the sun as part of the image. A variety of open ended materials from the re-use centre and a variety of pens, pencils and paper of different sizes and textures could be offered to encourage children to make their learning visible. Non-fiction and fictional stories about the sun, plants and planets could be available. A fully equipped green house for children to carry out experiments to test arising theories could also become an area for deepening learning. Opportunity and time in an outdoor classroom to nurture authentic experiences and stimulate engagement and connections would be honoured.

As the teacher I would then listen, document and share back my observations to the children as well as my colleagues in order focus in on the common inquiries evolving. I would need to attend to the comments and new theories with a creative and imaginative perspective, open to listening for meaning making thoughts and metaphors as they may evolve as the process unfolds.

Yes each day could/should and will truly be an adventure! Why not?

1 comment:

  1. So exciting...embracing life with questions...