The Story of ... Emergence
The Emergent Curriculum is about being responsive to the children. That the curriculum, the teaching emerges from the child's needs and the child's fascinations rather that an adult scripted curriculum that dictates what the child should know and when and at what tempo.
From an Original Learning Approach perspective the emergent curriculum creates an easier space for wonder, curiosity, joy, knowledge, imagination, interaction, risk, time, reflection and listening to interweave with play. An adult scripted curriculum makes this harder, especially the time - I think there are many gifted educators that can manage to incorporate all the other elements into a scripted learning environment.
But I do want to point out that in an emergent curriculum it is still the adult that is creating the direction of the script...
If we are to view it as the child plants a seed the grows and we pick the flower, the idea, the emerges from that to create the curriculum we have to remember that the soil that the seed is being planted in is created by us adults.
If we are not tending to the well-being of the soil and ecosystem then the ground might not be fertile enough to plant seeds, or too hard to break the surface, or only suitable for a limited number of flower seeds.
We need to be aware of how our words, actions, attitudes, how the design of the space and the choices of the materials are going to impact what seeds the children feel they can plant or choose to plant.
Feeling safe and valued.
Bias and stereotypes
All of this will impact the child's choices and ability to pant seeds.
This will impact what flowers will emerge... which ones will be cultivated, which ones will whither through lack of care. Which ones get eventually picked.
We might say that the curriculum is emergent and from the children, but it is still very much the adult that has the power.
Power is an interesting thing.
I strive to empower the children. That does not mean I give them my power, but that I enable their power and make them aware of it and how they can use it for their own well-being and as part of a community.
For me it is about facilitating the children to make informed decisions about the seeds they are choosing, to help me create the right environments for their seeds to grow (ie I observe them to understand their needs, but they are also empowered to feel safe enough to tell me their needs too) and then also an awareness of how to tend to their own flower, and all the other flowers... ie we are creating a diverse garden of learning and evolving possibilities where every flower is equally valued.
We then make choices. together, about which flowers we should be picking and arranging, which ones we continue to cultivate and also which ones we put in the compost to feed new flowers, new ideas.
I facilitate this. Not make the choices on my own, but listen to the children, and facilitate the children's ability to listen to each other and to feel joy when someone else's flower is picked because they have also been invested in taking care of it.
Being aware of my power helps me to be aware of how I use it. I will not say that I follow the children, I listen to them, I respond to them. I do not want them to follow me either. I want us to respond to each other. To INTERACT.
Emergent - Emerge - Emergence - Emergency.
Emergency - an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action.
Emergent - in the process of coming into being or becoming prominent
Emergence - the process of becoming visible after being concealed
Emerge - to come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or obscurity
We could see teaching as an emergency...that our observations of the children bring about the potential of an unforeseen combination of circumstances - how the children react to an experience, what they are interested in, how they are able to self regulate emotions, how they are able to move their bodies or articulate their thoughts... and this requires us to take immediate action as an educator to respond to all of this and provide the ecosystem that will enable the children to thrive and evolve.
How we teach, how we facilitate learning, emerges from the soil that we planted our own seeds in, that nourished our roots and impacted every cell. We are not just ourselves but the voices of those who raised us and the norms of our childhoods.
“We can never be quite clear whether we are referring to the world as it is or to the world as we see it.” — Gregory Bateson
This is the dilemma. Do we see the child as it is... or the child as we see it. And this is why I claim that an emergent curriculum is not about following the child, and being child-based;
it is, for me, about being aware of all the power balances, of creating an ecosystem that is fertile and welcoming for a multiverse of ideas to grow, that I am in a place of ceasing to be and becoming... with one foot in the past and one striding out to the future, and that I have responsibility to ensure that if I step in a mess to try and clean it off my shoe before taking my next step forward otherwise its going to make a stink for quite some time no matter how far from the mess I get. The mess being stereotypes and bias that "other", belittle, and exclude people... and to be honest we are all going round with a whole load of sh#t on our shoes because its too inconvenient to wipe it off, or that we have simply become accustomed to the smell, and can only smell it on others...
We need to emerge from the stink. To smell the future as it should be.
The original Learning Approach strives to give reflection tools for all educators in all pedagogical metods and approaches to reflect on their past, their now and how they want to step into the future.