My brain hasn’t been able to shut off for almost a month now. I know that the new school year, the grade change, and the usual stresses of September have caused my brain to run at a higher than normal speed, but this year, I have a new adrenaline rush. It’s name: Graduate School.
I have found myself thinking about my first Graduate course, EDCI 338, at the strangest times. The content which we have discussed permeates my brain in the dark hours of the evening, during the morning routine of my students, and even while sitting at a union executive meeting. I find that our class and Twitter discussions into technology, social media and inquiry based learning is starting to seep into every hour of my waking moments. It has become a living, breathing EDCI Curse.
I look back through the sketchbook I use to document my thinking and learning, and I am struck at the words I see repeated. Inquiry. Project-based. Twitter. How? Curriculum. I understand why I am writing those words from every conversation I have, from each class I attend. in my head, however, I am still trying to weave everything I i have recently discovered about Early Childhood Development together with nature based experiences in a technological world. With every step I take towards resolving a question in my mind, 5 more pop up. Unfortunately, I am hung up on the word I find myself writing the most in my notes: Curriculum.
I read and reread the notes I took on Jeff Hopkins’ inspiring and energizing talk about his school, and I am passionately fired to provide opportunities of exploration, questioning and discovery for my young students. I prepare for questions from the parents, I garner support from the teachers around me, I search for ideas through my fabulous PLN. I relish the idea of cutting apart the outcomes and thinking of them as projects, instead of subject areas. I wish I could go back 6 weeks and have the time to do just that. As I put together a “discovery” plan for the week with my students, I am not just looking at the subjects, but the explorations we can do. I am prepared to justify this way of learning to practically everyone I meet. Every time I find myself getting excited about this new way of facilitating learning, I almost start to vibrate, but then I remember my dilemma. How do I justify this to an employer who requires numbers and data? How do I stand against the direction for me to produce percentages and statistics on 5 and 6 year olds? I know I am not alone in this question. It is one thing for an entire school to stand up and say, no. It is very different for a single teacher in a single district where the goals for some of our learners are so lofty and seemingly unattainable. This is where my excitement begins to wane. It is a dilemma, a problem, which I know I have to face. I believe so strongly in what we are talking about and I know it will change learning for the better. I need our administrators, our superintendents and our governments to truly believe in it as well.
At the end of Jeff’s talk in September, I found a question scrawled in my book. It was simply, “Why won’t they do K-3? K-s Malaguzzi style!!” A part of me wishes and dreams that this would happen. That it could happen in my very own district. Instead, I suppose, it’s up to me and my fellow education reformers to start the change in our small, and large, classrooms around BC. It’s time to be the “grassroots” movement taking kids out of a textbook and into discovery. Thank you Jeff, for showing me a way to start.