Bringing a Little Wonder Back to my Work

I have worked in programs that are supportive of the kind of child led learning that I believe in, but often administrators pay lip service to it while piling on pre-written curricula and norm based goals which in my opinion dilute the learning process into a gray soup of letters and numbers instead of a rich interactive environment in which the children and teachers collaborate on the curriculum as passions and interests and opportunities present themselves. It is more about a static norm based approach as opposed to a fluid child based approach. We have so little time for projects or even the kinds of conversations necessary for developing the ideas that children have. Parent involvement is also difficult since most parents work and many have infants and toddlers. My time is also an issue as I am expected to do the social service work for 19 families as well as the educational planning and running a classroom for the children in 40 hours a week.

As I write this it sounds so negative. At this point I am so burnt out and mentally exhausted by the paperwork and academics that I have to make a commitment to do at least a little each week to move toward creating more wonder and excitement and interaction in my class. I made some easy changes to the environment to attract children to little used areas (a mirror on the science table, and a magnet board in the library). This week I am starting a car project as I have mostly boys who are completely into cars. I already am feeling more positive and energetic toward all of my job. I am also working on a class project on the Reggio approach so this will give me some good examples of my own work to include.

Here is one a poem by Loris Malaguzzi one of the founders of the Reggio Emelia approach in Italy. There is alot in here about the way I like to teach.

The Hundred is There

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.
And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

Loris Malaguzzi
(translated by Lella Gandini)

This entry was posted in All part of the process, can't really complain but, change, developing relationships, Other peoples words, paying attention, philosophy, poetry, Teaching and Learning, thinking in words, wonder world, working world and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Bringing a Little Wonder Back to my Work

  1. suburbanlife says:

    I so agree with this poem and the idea it contains and expresses. Mayb that is why i burned out after teaching for fourteen years in the secondary Public School system, where my desire to retain and invigorate the joy of learning met with rolling eyes, ennui and systemic devaluation. Now I am teaching adults privaltely to rekindle the magic of the child’s capacity to explore with joy, and am having a whale of a time. G

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