Experiencing and doing is not sufficient for learning

“Experiencing and doing, is not sufficient for learning: doing the same thing time and again does not necessarily lead to learning; the activity in learning – the doing – is indispensable but not sufficient for learning.  The reflection, the evaluation, the analysis that allows for reviewing the process of doing is a vital element that allows for the extraction of information and making sense.  Thus learning implies doing, revisiting the process of doing and evaluating the consequences of doing.”

Julia Oliveira-Formosinho  “Togetherness and play under the same roof:  children’s perceptions about families”  European Early Childhood Education Research Journal.  Vol 17. Number 2, June 2009

The above quote reminds me of how Loris Malaguzzi talked about the idea of school as being a place where children not only ‘did’ with their hands but also connected their hands (and doing) with their minds (thinking).  I have become really interested in how early childhood educators support the process of children ‘making sense of their doing’ by revisiting and evaluating learning experiences, especially as part of a group.  It doesn’t always seem easy or natural at times.

 There are no doubt some challenges and dilemmas, such as:

  • Observing and documenting the doing only, how do we recognise and make visible how children make sense of their participation in an experience or encounter?
  • Exploratory/sensory/messy based activities are and have been considered essential to early years development and learning.  How do we evaluate which of these types of encounter enable the critical thinking?
  • Finding time for group reflection.  How do we pause the action to aid reflection?

It would be great to hear how others in the field approach these challenges or indeed if you have a different perspective to share.  Leave your comments in the box below.