Everything is a learning opportunity
Aside from the Project-Based Learning approach to education, the Early Birds nest offers students a unique and flexible way to acquire new skills, in that there is limitless educational value in everything that we do and experience together.
To recognise the opportunity to learn from everything around us, it is vital that we respect the huge capacity for learning that each and every child has. Whether they are 2 years old or 6, children are innately curious and constantly seek answers to the very fundamentals of being, by questioning what going on around them. It helps them to make sense of the world – and themselves. Why is it raining? Why are those birds singing? Why are some kids taller and some shorter? Every question holds value – particularly those which arise because of something happening in the present moment. A rainbow appears – we find a dead bird in the garden – a water pipe bursts….whatever the experience, there is never a more pertinent time ‘teach’ than in the moment. After all, you have a captive audience, asking questions, and therefore steering their own learning.
Establishing a sense of equity is important. Rather than being traditional teachers in the sense that we dictate ‘truths’ or fact to the children, we instead become conduits, where information can be passed through us, and then interpreted by the child. Of course there are many questions that can be answered factually or with logic and science– and there are a great many others cannot.
Often, children perceive adults as omniscient. Nothing could be further from reality – the acquisition of knowledge, wisdom and truth is a lifelong journey that has no end-point. Dismantling the notion that adults are somehow all-knowing is an important way to encourage greater curiosity and free thought within children. Instead of offering them definite answers to their questions, we can discuss possibilities, debate ideas and introduce different theories. We can learn together. Central to this is allowing the children to develop and present their own theories. Questions about place, time and weather are often common within the classroom. Why was is sunny yesterday and now it’s snowing? Why is it night-time in Australia but day-time here? Instead of offering concrete answers, challenge the children to develop their own theories. Pose their questions back to them; why do you think it’s snowing today? Open a debate, collect ideas, discuss, conduct an experiment, conduct a vote, summarise and – crucially – support every purported theory as completely viable.
Crucial to being able to enable such a way of teaching and learning is flexibility. The Early Birds nest is a place which affords such flexibility. Our garden is filled with life – flowers, vegetables, animals, people, bugs... Life that is always moving, growing, flowing, adapting and changing. There are moments every that surprise us, confuse us, upset us, fill us with joy, make us laugh, make us grumpy….and we make space for them. Because that is the essence of learning, without limitation.
By Charlotte McAllister
Early Birds Istanbul Teacher