Monday, 28 March 2016

Aspirations without fears.

Follow this the link to an article  that is great to reflect on when considering gathering parents aspirations for their children. Lego children learn through play

These conversations with whānau need to really be kanohi ki te kanohi rather than a form to fill in. Through meaningful conversations parents are asked to consider their hopes and dreams for the children.   As the article says there is so much unnecessary pressure for parents regarding their aspirations.
2014-07-21 12.43.31Imagine the moment that the father or mother gazes upon their child for the first time, what would be going through their minds. I could imagine, “I want the world for you, for you to be happy, healthy, loved …….” without the pressured thoughts of getting ready for school, life, a job, or being left behind as the article talks about.
Ka Hikitia Accelerating Success 2013-2017 states,
A productive partnership in education means a two-way relationship leading to and generating shared action, outcomes and solutions. Productive partnerships are based on mutual respect, understanding and shared aspirations. They are formed by acknowledging, understanding and celebrating similarities and differences.
For Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013– 2017 to be successful, stakeholders must form productive partnerships where there is an ongoing exchange of knowledge and information, and where everybody contributes to achieving the goals.
A productive partnership starts with the understanding that Māori children and students are connected to whānau and should not be viewed or treated as separate, isolated or disconnected. Parents and whānau must be involved in conversations about their children and their learning. They need accessible, evidence-based information on how to support their children’s learning and success.
Reflective question:  How do we incorporate parents/whānau voice, aspirations, knowledge, passions and past experiences into the day to day curriculum, our annual planning and strategic plans?

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

I am really enjoying Peter Gray's book, Free to Learn.  It is so thought provoking and inspiring.  I have typed out a small excerpt from the book in response to some wonderful conversations that I have been having with teachers about giving children not only the time to play but the the time to play without adult intervention.

“In our culture today, parents and other adults overprotect children from possible dangers in play.  We seriously underestimate children’s ability to take care of themselves and make good judgements.  In this respect, we differ not just from hunter-gatherer cultures, but from all traditional cultures in which children played freely.  Our underestimation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - by depriving children of freedom, we deprive them of the opportunities they need to learn how to take control of their own behaviour and emotions.”

Gray then talks about the rise in narcissism and the decline in empathy and the findings of a study carried out on a group of college students.  From this point he concludes:

“From all I have said in this chapter, it should be no mystery why a decline in play would be accompanied by a rise in emotional and social disorders.  Play is nature’s way of teaching children how to solve their own problems, control their impulses, modulate their emotions, see from others’ perspectives, negotiate differences, and get along with others as equals.  There is no substitute for play as a means of learning these skills.  They can’t be taught in school.  For life in the real world, these lessons of personal responsibility, self-control, and sociability are far more important than any lessons that can be taught in school.” (Free to Learn, Pg.174-175)

While I am inspired by Peter Gray, Sir Ken Robinson, Nathan Mikaere-Wallis and many others I have recently re-looked at Te Whāriki.  This too is such an inspirational and forward thinking curriculum that is talking about much of what current research is now saying.
Within the principles of Te Whāriki there is a lot of the current discourse that we have now about children leading their own learning.  
For instance:
"The early childhood curriculum builds on the child's own experiences, knowledge, skills, attitudes, needs, interests, and views of the world within each particular setting.  Children will have the opportunity to create and act on their own ideas, to develop knowledge and skills in areas that interest them, and to make an increasing number of their own decisions and judgements." (Pg. 40)

"Adults provide encouragement, warmth, and acceptance.  They also provide challenges for creative and complex learning and thinking, helping children to extend their ideas and actions.... (Pg.43)

I will certainly be looking more closely at the links between Te Whāriki, the New Zealand Curriculum, current research and the importance of inquiry / play based learning. 

Note to self:  Maybe I should just call inquiry/play based learning - tinkering.  Tinkering with your own ideas, thoughts, passions, environments, resources, words, relationships, the list goes on.  Yes tinkering it is,  because it gives me and others the freedom to consider many possibilities and this will lead to limitless thinking and learning.