I came across an interesting article this weekend. It supports my way of teaching and most importantly, my way of learning.
As an Early Childhood Educator I had plenty of opportunities to observe children at play. While engaged in active play, children learned not only fine and gross motor skills, problems solving skills and they learned to be social beings. Once children get to about grade three we hear “Grow up”, Behave your age, don’t forget to study”. What a shame! The word play and the time for play appears to have vanished…
When I was a teacher of young children at the Calgary Waldorf School we would end our school day with story time. On Monday we would introduced a new story (we didn’t use books – it was all based on the teacher memorizing a fairytale or fabel). On Tuesday the same story was told. By Wednesday the children began to integrate parts of the story into their play. Story time on Wednesday often included the story told with puppets which was repeated on Thursday. On Friday the children became the characters in the story. Waldorf, also known as Rudolf Steiner Schools fully embrace the model of three-fold learning, that is aquiring knowledge with head, hands and heart.
Over the many years of sharing knowledge with adults, “teaching” various crafts, doll making, basketry, spinning, knitting, embroidery and quilting skills as well as design concepts, my theory of learning has solidified. Just ten days ago I had the pleasure of meeting so many new faces in my three one-day classes. Today I wonder whether much of the information I shared will be incorporated. I always feel that a one day class opens new doors and windows but the opportunity to ask questions and explore is so very short.
In my two day workshops I see on day two as participants enter that the interaction and idea exchange between students is animated and a certain amount of excitement is part of the day. Three to five day classes provide time and countless opportunities to experiment, do I dare say play (?) and embrace new concepts to carry them into the future. The students leave with a sense of confidence that I rarely witness in one and two day workshops.
My one-day classes are not project oriented! They are purely process oriented and as such provide as many opportunities to explore and experiment as I can fit into the six or seven hours. So often I see a student struggle and exclaim: “I only have this day with you and I need to learn everything I can.” The pressure that the student puts on herself, the rest of the class and the instructor is immense. I know, they are often not aware of this affect but the nervous energy adds a level of stress that is not conducive to the overall learning environment.
The article I referred to in my short intro can be found here. It fully supports my personal observations: that overthinking a new habit or concept will make it harder to acquire the new skill. Once again, the message that play at any age to facilitate learning is coming through loud and clear!
Happy play time – I have spent all weekend in my studio (= sand box) playing… and a new quilt is emerging! Give play a try! Happy creating! Feel free to weigh in below with our own thoughts. Can’t wait to read what your thoughts are.