I think children learn best within a social environment in which the group of people genuinely know and care about each other. I strongly feel that this forms the foundation for the most successful classrooms. To me, Rita Pierson in her 2013 TED talk described the need for relationships in education most clearly and passionately: “Every child deserves a champion; an adult who will never give up on them,” she said and teachers have the opportunity every day to do just that.
I see relationships and learning as very closely related; both are creative acts. They are creative because every day they need to be nurtured, utilized, examined, improved, and remade. The heart of constructivism is that knowledge, skills and values are built over time in socially safe and growth-focused environments. Knowledge building is never done. Very new knowledge is often very wrong; take for example a young child’s explanation of wind: “wind is made by trees as they wave back and forth.” As we experience more, play more, talk with others, and as we make things and share things, knowledge gets improved; it becomes more accurate or sophisticated.
Highly effective teaching involves creating the conditions for learning and exploring that are not only developmentally appropriate but also are respectful of children’s personalities, passions, and dreams. Sir Ken Robinson said in his 2010 TED talk: “And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.” I can’t think of a better reminder of the awesome responsibility of parents and teachers than this statement.
Thanks to @MatthewOldridge for this blog challenge!
I definitely agree that learning is a creative act in that it must be nurtured and cared for it to continue to help the students. If the students do not continue to learn, then they will lose their passion. Being social is also important to the students in that they must collaborate, which is also a way to keep them interested in the material and wanting to learn. It is a constant cycle of learning new things and teaching them to others, which then leads to you being able to generate new knowledge and pass that on. This cycle is an extremely effective way of learning, as once you understand it well enough to teach it to someone else, you fully grasp the concepts yourself. Students need help to grow, and by allowing them a safe and social space, where they can communicate with you as the teacher, and peers, they are able to continue to develop these skills. I really love the quote that you included, and I hope that once I become a teacher I will be able to remember it, as it’s a great way to teach. Students let you in on their ambitions and dreams, and we need to do all that we can to help them develop the skills needed to achieve what they want to instead of telling them all the ways that it is not possible. I was just wondering, what is your personal favourite way to help the students be motivated to continue developing the skills learned in the classroom?
Hi Nicole! Thanks for your comment! I think the best approach for student motivation is that the classroom environment and the learning culture are set up in such a way that the student has as much agency as possible. There is always the structure of school and the classroom but what freedom within that structure can you design and value for students? Motivation will come easily if students see that they have the control of their learning. Constructivist approaches such as project-based learning and inquiry-based learning, if set-up and carefully implemented, will not only engage students but also access a higher quality of learning.
Children grow on the daily, like you said, and so I strongly agree with the sentiment that creative acts are the best way to teach children. I’m currently a student studying to be a teacher and I’ve always been a little eccentric, as I’ve learned and grown I’ve considered the kind of teacher that I want to be. A long time ago I read Ayesha Siddiqi’s quote “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” so I realise that as a teacher I’ll be presented with an opportunity to be that person for a large group of people, and like you said, I’ll never give up on them, I’ll teach them the best I can, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll just have to try something more creative, until I find the way that works for them. I want to leave each student I teach to know that I will always be ion their corner and that as long as I’m in the classroom I’ll do my best to make sure that each lesson is creative and progressive so that they can have fun and feel confident in themselves as they grow and learn.
Hi Tai! That is a great goal you have set for yourself! I think the relationship teachers have with their students is the most significant factor that will determine the quality of learning. The second factor is what the teacher believes to be true about how students learn best… at least, that is what I think. Good luck to you on your career and important work with children!