While at a pre-kindergarten school today, I came across a bulletin board: “I wonder…” The children posted questions of things they wonder about. I love the word “wonder.” There is a quality about the word “wonder” that provokes questioning and non-judgmental thoughts/conversations. So, here are my wonderings about group as it relates to learning.
I wonder how deep children’s understanding could go if given the space and time to work together?
A graduate classmate recently shared Sugata Mitra’s Tedtalk: The Child-Driven Education in which Mitra inserts computer screens into holes of the walls of New Delhi, India. What happens is pretty awesome. Children, who had never seen a computer, begin using these computers to discover incredible information. He goes on to conduct research of how children work together with technology to research questions and learn. In his research adults, aside from providing an initial question, are not guiding the children’s work with the computer. Mitra argues that children, irrespective of who is with them or where they are, will learn when they are interested. He describes education and, more specifically, group work as a self-organizing system. In this system, the relationships among children in a group support and foster deep learning and understanding–NATURALLY!
I wonder what it looks/feels like to be a teacher who acts as a resource and guide for children’s learning, rather than the source of knowledge and information for children?
In a substitute job with over twenty six year olds, I felt at a great loss to meet all their needs (emotional and academic) during the day. After seeing their interest in reading, I divided the class into two groups of about ten children each. One group found a cozy spot to read, while I supported the other group to complete a literacy worksheet. My ability to help and work with just ten children was much greater and all the children finished the assignment. I was a substitute with this class for only one day, but the children were responsive to my impromptu grouping and their respect for the time and space brought a harmonious experience for everyone.
I wonder, could educational standards be met and understandings reached if these wonderings became a learning reality?
As teachers, it is important that we know and understand content standards, but those standards can be reached in many different ways. As teachers, we can be facilitators of children’s work/play in groups and as individuals. Our support of children’s learning within the group can happen in many different and unique ways. I wonder how teaching might improve if teachers work together in groups, too?