A PLAY & LEARNING REVOLUTION
It was a few years ago when I was first drawn to AnjiPlay, I don't remember exactly how many, but I do remember feeling a connection to the approach, just in the same way that I had felt a connection with the Reggio Emilia Approach... not so much a wow, this is amazing, but more, this feels like home.
I think we are all going to have different responses to revolutionary educational practice. For some it might seem too much and the mere idea of the approach is scary... for others they get that wow, that sense of overwhelming and the tears of joy that come with that. For me and others, that sense of belonging, of finding what you believed must exist, as it's the only way to see children and learning.
Over the years my views of Reggio Emilia have evolved and I feel I want to strive towards the origin story... I have written about this before, that I feel Malaguzzi inspired rather than Reggio Emilia inspired, as there are so many that have taken threads from the Reggio Emilia approach fabric and then declare themselves "Reggio".
I think of Debbie Keyte-Hartland often in these circumstances, that we maybe should stop calling ourselves "Reggio inspired" and think of ourselves more "in dialogue with" the pedagogical approach from Reggio Emilia - what is it saying to you? How can you apply it in your setting? How is it relevant? What aspects talk to you the most? Why? etc... For me it is always about the children... no matter the pedagogy. And this is why Reggio Emilia always appealed to me... it confirmed to me that I should research and learn from all areas of life to better meet the needs of the children I work with.
Being in Anji I felt I received the same message... the child is at the centre and we need to learn how to listen to the child... not what we as adults think the child needs... but actually listen and then use our adult wisdom to meet those needs.
This is the revolution.
To understand children. And to meet their needs... and not be in a position that feels the need to adjust them so they fit into the society we live in now,
One thing we have learned is that the future is in a constant state of change. We should not be forming children for the future... because really its changing faster than we can imagine. All we can do is meet the needs of the evolving child so that THEY can meet the future with confidence.
On Saturday I will be in Istanbul (25th May 2019) to speak at the Alternative Education Symposium. I think the very fact that there exist a symposium for alternative education speak volumes... how can we create an education that works... for everyone... not just those who manage o adapt to the pedagogical norms of a country's educational system.
As a mother of three children on the autism spectrum and being autistic myself - I see how the educational system is not suited to maximise learning... it is more about conditioning children to behave and learn in specific ways. This is why I am always looking to be part of a revolution... it is why I am trying to write about Original Learning... to change people's perspectives of learning and play, and also how they see children.
I was in a dialogue earlier today about gender - thinking about the number of men in early childhood... which is really low in many countries and non existent in others.. And this, I think is is part to do with otherism... for centuries children and women have been "othered" - deemed not as worthy, not to be valued. This mean early childhood is twice othered... both children and the mostly female workforce. Getting people to care and invest is not going to be easy. This is why we need a revolution. To change the way people think. To value children. To value women. To create a future where all humans are valued.
It is not going to happen over night. Change takes time... and we have to make the changes we can.
The changes in China for AnjiPlay are amazing... it is radical... just as the changes in the education for young children at the end of World War Two, when Reggio Emilia was started as a revolution against raising children that would become adults that would JUST follow - there was a need to have a nation that could think and make their own INFORMED decisions.
AnjiPlay like the Reggio Emilia Approach are not finished pedagogical products... they will continue to evolve as the children do... children will change as society does... School has become antiquated and has not kept up with the times, despite trying to... because it has not revolutionised how it sees the child... it is still about control, about managing behaviour and filling with facts... Schools are not knowledge based... they are fact based!. Knowledge is a process... give children time to play they will process facts and turn them into life-long knowledge, and not the fast facts needed for a test and dumped to remember new facts for the next test!!
Through play children lean self regulation and co-regulation. They process facts and make new discoveries. They develop social skills and work on then emotional skills. Play is a valuable part of education that is being reduced to a tiny pocket of time and undervalued.
Can AnjiPlay save play within education?
I have seen strategies within the educational approach that could be applied in many other cultures in beneficial ways - to enhance learning and also well-being... I will go into this more in later posts... ( I keep saying that... but really I have so much to write and share, and I don't want each post to be too long to read)
learning today in Anji preschools (3-6 yr olds) - where BIG play features everyday as a source of learning
How school used to look in Anji... this is a historical building. I think, really learning COULD happen like this for short periods of time IF children had access to BIG play too in significant amounts... In this design of the school - the teacher is the centre... the children are not given the same chance to learn from each other... we are all bearing knowledge that we can share with others...