‘Our image of the child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent and, most of all connected to adults and other children.’ (Loris Malaguzzi)
We all have different ways of viewing the world. How we view what constitutes ‘best practice’ in education is wholly dependent upon what we value and hold to be good, and this is ever-changing. Our values and beliefs are framed culturally, socially, politically, historically to name a few and are rooted in our ongoing experiences. In early childhood fields, we all have different changeable perspectives and experiences too. For me, that is what makes our work so exciting as we all have much to learn from each other and so much still to learn as we encounter new experiences and theories. Therefore, in the spirit
of recognising and celebrating our diversity I outline here what I value and believe in, my paradigm as such, but acknowledge too that I continually construct my knowledge and values with others.
I believe it is important to offer young children opportunity to deepen and constantly elaborate their research of the world that surrounds them, to express and communicate with others what they come to know in a multitude of modes and languages.
As soon as babies are born, they communicate their presence, immediately reaching out with their powerful fingers to grasp and find out about their new surroundings and the people and objects that inhabit them. They are innately sociable, inquisitive and curious and eager to find out answers to their questions and problems.
If we believe in Malaguzzi’s idea of a strong, competent child, rich in potential then that child demands of us to be the same as their potential cannot be reached in isolation or in environments that do not invite curiosity, love and respect of their strengths and competencies. As far as possible, I try to create environments and encounters that respect the curious nature of children, not just as inquisitive explorers but as critical thinkers with a view of the world that is their own but that is constructed in relation to others.
We therefore have to reconsider what our role as educators may look like in these situations. Olsson (2009, p.11) describes the educator as one who:
“… has the role of listening carefully to children as well as arranging situations where children can work with their questions and problems… [so that] children, together with their peers and teachers, can be engaged in the collective construction of knowledge and values.”
It is not that educators should think and act as mere passive followers of children’s busy shadows or wistfully watch from afar observing an experience that engages their hands (but not their minds), No! Neither does it mean attempting to find every child’s intrinsic interest (as if they only had one) to create a meaningful set of plans, No! But instead, what we might be asking and acting upon instead is which situations, which materials, which contexts will enable the children to construct a problem or question that together, children and adults can engage in the active construction of knowledge and to elaborate their ideas from their many different perspectives. It is not that there is only ever one problem or singular answer, but many ways to enlighten paths of how to look at something.
I believe children construct learning in relation to others (other children, their families, ourselves as educators) and I think that they do not just have to be capped at exploring or enjoying something (with hands) but instead have the right to bring their competent minds that construct ideas and thoughts to fruition, to realise them and therefore make how they learn visible.
Therefore as an educator collaborating with settings involved in early childhood education I accept our responsibility to construct ethical and values-based pedagogical approaches that respect children’s active curiosity, their desire to construct meaning and communicate how they perceive the world in which we all reside together in their multiple modalities of expression.
Bring on Monday!
Liselott Mariett Olsson (2009) Movement and Experimentation in Young Children’s Learning: Deleuze and Guattari in early childhood education. Routledge