Harnessing the Power of Inquiry Based Learning Through Block Play
Monday June 11, 2012, NAEYC PDI Conference, Dr. Marta Collier, presenter
Montessori said we are hostesses
But you don’t know what your guests need if you are not paying attention
How do you feel when you go to the store and the product you need is out of stock? Not there? How do you feel when there is a literal road block to getting where you need to go?
Why do we insist on taking down the block structures right away?
Some History of Block Play:
The child’s impulse to construct is an old idea. Construction is found in the writings of Plato, Comenius, Pestalozzi as well as Piaget and Hewitt.
Construction is an OLD idea.
Blocks with holes in them
Patty Smith Hill Blocks (1930) = rods and pillars and SO BIG!
Pointed out some gender bias “The Boy Contractor” block sets
She is presenting overview of CRISIS IN THE KINDERGARTEN
Son of a grocer
U of VT
U of M
Established the lab school at U of Chicago
Dewey believed that children have 4 natural instincts/impulses:
social instinct: conversation, personal intercourse and communication
instinct of making: the constructive impulse, building things
instinct of investigation: doing things and watching to see what happens; inquiry
expressive impulse – the desire to extract meaning from experience; creativity
What else do they really need??? Seriously – what else? They need adults who facilitate these 4 things!
Dewey said to start the day with a meeting to promote language skills.
We need to plan hands-on activities, children learn best by doing.
Children’s own interests should be the starting point of education.
He learned the value of play to a child’s development
Children learn to solve problems, gain language and math concepts when they have freedom to move in and out of the classroom.
When a child says I’M DONE at snack, does that mean he’ll never eat again??? NO! yet when they say all done at play, it doesn’t mean they are actually done. They are done for “right now.”
A good question to ask when a child says they are all done: Are you “put it away” all done or “taking a break” all done???
NOTHING IS PROGRESSIVE UNLESS IT’S MAKING PROGRESS.
She indicated that some parts of our country are stuck. And wondered if maybe if the adults got out of the way, maybe could we get un-stuck?
Relationship building is the foundation of education.
Children don’t learn how to set goals and problem solve the day they walk across the stage.
When we revisit DEWEY we can empower ourselves and add fire tour fight.
Interesting question from participant: Are female teachers threatened by the block area?
Education is not prep for life – it is life.
A child should enjoy being 4 not be getting ready to be 5
Don’t mortgage their 4-ness.
The (Patty Smith Hill) blocks themselves facilitation cooperation because they are so BIG and HEAVY.
And then… we played! (pics are posted!)