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The state of education is in a maelstrom, and children, educators and families with it.
Not only the terminologies, but the organisation, habits and environments are also shaped by this discourse. England has one of the poorest minimal standards for educational environments in Europe – if knowledge transfer is the chief definer of desirable education then smaller spaces are adequate – children need to be uniform, passive, obedient and receptive. Programmes of rote-learning are commercial and are pushed as 'effective' and 'efficient.' The situation is diagnosed by many – Professor Peter Moss, Sir Ken Robinson and increasingly parents who have withdrawn their children from school.
We know that learners are not passive receptors. Children are born lively, curious, dynamic, sociable, expectant, creative – in Professor Colwyn Trevarthen's words 'humans (children) are born seeking relationship.' It follows that the education we construct, with the tools of time, organisation, space, professionalism should support this basic human zest, not constrain from the narrowing external concerns about 'upskilling tomorrow's workforce.' But it is a construct – and the lived reality of schools and early childhood centres is of course very nuanced, with many heads, staff groups, managers, committed to 'getting it right'. But it remains a muddle, and it is draining the natural energies of children, and of educators, and is a worry to many parents.
- What are ways in which we can resource and support children in enlivening their curiosity, confidence, daringness, absorption, questioning, exhilaration?
- What are ways we can find to bring these children together to discuss, agree and disagree? To engage in significant learning groups, delving into important ideas, experience and construction of knowledge?
- What are ways in which we can enable their sociable autonomy and rightful importance as citizens?
This is the aim of our summer series 'Learning to Live Well Together' of six internationally-renowned contributors, which begins on 6th July (we also have a complementary introductory session on the 29th June.)
Here 's a presentation about natural communications and relationships happening right under our feet.
Definitely something vital for us all to think about and re-value in how we work and live.
Thanks to Francesca Manfredi, atelierista at Loris Malaguzzi International Centre Preschool & Primary School, Reggio Emilia, for originally noticing and posting this.
Are you looking for ways in which your children can explore their world through music and movement?
This slideshow/video summarises our 2-year project with a nursery and primary school in Kendal. Discover what we did, what we learned, what obstacles we faced and how the children engaged.
Production has been supported by Youth Music, and so we are able to make this free to download.
"Dogs, Bones and Dancing richly expands the story I have been trying to understand, in two ways.
First, it is clear that, for each of these three-to-five-year-olds, the growing vitality of a human body with its many clever parts has become a thrilling adventure.
Secondly, this life adventure is one to be explored in play with companions who love to share the energy and grace of moving, and the new stories it tells.
Such advances in cleverness with cultural understanding depend on the vitality of natural self-expression, and the enjoyment of co-creating with others in making actions and memories meaningful and productive of common good."
Professor Colwyn Trevarthen, Edinburgh
We hope you will enjoy meeting the children, the educators, their ideas and explorations and learning, and reading the accompanying Commentary by Colwyn Trevarthen, Professor (Emeritus) of Child Psychology and Psychobiology, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh