Monday, March 28, 2016

What do you do instead of a “follow-up” or “extension of learning”?

What do you do instead of a “follow-up” or “extension of learning”? Well in one simple single word using four letters, you: PLAN. You plan for teaching and learning. You plan for possibilities. Writing about planning is not something that can occur in a blog article. That’s a whole freaking book…

I need to focus on follow-ups which have been a big discussion on a FB group as well as the bigger EYLF etc group. I’m also dying to write about Easter craft, but that will have to wait.

I see so many requests for extension ideas for activities … Brian was interested in painting today. What extension activities can I do for this interest?

Well Brian was interested in painting with brushes at the easel. He was busy exploring the paint: how the colours mixed upon the paper. how they blended in to each other and how they created - like magic new colours. It wasn’t an instant colour change - there were streaks of this colour and streaks of that colour and then somewhere in the middle a mixing and a muddling into a new colour. A colour that Brian had never before seen before much less made himself. He was learning how to turn the brush to move the bristles. He was learning that the changes of pressure from his hand changed the way the paint worked upon the paper. He learned that he could control his hand this way and that. He was learning that there was cause and effect in the world of painting. He learned that he had to share the paints with Tammy who was on the other side of the easel sharing the same pots of paints. Brian was learning. But to you: Brian was painting.

I see all this confusion. Confusion about what learning is. What interests are. What the role of interests play in learning. I see lost educators. I see educators being pushed out as fast as they can so they can get the next lot in. They throw educators out into the workforce where they get jobs (hopefully). One hopes that these educators land jobs in services which ‘get it’ but I see more often than not, they don’t. So you have unprepared educators placed in services that are also not prepared … Add “The Cycle” to this and you get chaos. You get fear. You get pressure. You have all these educators being pushed into completing this “Cycle” … You observed something - now you must plan an extension for it. That’s the cycle.
I disagree.

An observation is merely a moment in time. It is a small snapshot of a child engaged in learning, playing, growing, being, becoming. It is not the definition of a child. It is not the be-all and end-all of that child. It is a moment. A moment in time. And you are being told you need to extend the interest or extend the learning. Most people go for the interest. I think possibly because the educators before you went down that path or because the word interest appears in the NQS or because it seems more responsive perhaps? I don’t know.

But you have to plan something right? You have to do something to show that you are being responsible and maintaining the cycle.
Let’s go back to Brian.

Brian is learning. If we go and implement all these extension activities based upon what Brian was interested in .. We go from painting to painting. We completely rob Brian of the time and opportunity and resources to continue on his learning path of painting with brushes at the easel. The assumptions around the NQS and the planning cycle are robbing Brian, all the Brians of their real learning.

How do you support Brian? How do you plan for Brian? Well I would hope that easel painting would be a core element of your learning environment. I would hope that there were a wide selection of paints out each and every single day. I would love to see thin brushes and thick brushes in pots or in repurposed glass jars. I’d love to see painting at a table as well as the easel. On big paper and small paper with collage bits and pieces available - all freely. You could change the tone of the paints by adding white or adding black. You could make paints up with the children - long after Brian’s had his unhindered time to explore. You could mix the paints in jars and give them names that have meaning for Brian and his peers. You could create a colour wheel using the paints in the store room. You could buy artists acrylics and water colours and mix pure colours and compare the quality of the paints we use in children’s services to the quality of pain that artists use.

You could explore the great artists - both historic and contemporary. You could do all of this - AFTER - you give Brian the time to learn to be a painter in his own right. Brian is three years old - THREE. 3. Give Brian time. Give Brian resources. Give Brian YOURSELF. Give him your time. Use your teaching skills to support him … Draw his attention to what he has done … Give him the language that he may otherwise not have. In fact if you don't have the language of art on the tip of your tongue - that is your “follow-up” or your “extension of learning” … Go and teach yourself the language of art … tones, shades, colours beyond red, blue, yellow, green … learn about magenta and chartreuse and teal.

Please don’t rob Brian of his learning. Let Brian be. Let him learn. Support him with your teaching skills. Don’t distract him or redirect him away from his learning with novelty painting you sourced on Pinterest or on Facebook.

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