My Approach and Mission Statement
Reframing Early Learning in 21st Century
By nature, young children love to try things out and experiment. They are keen to understand their world, and – from their perspective – learning is a combination of reflection, imagination and embodied cognition. Finally, children enjoy physically applying their self-discovered knowledge independently.
As a teaching artist and educator trainer, my mission is to do research with adults who work with young children on nurturing self-guided learning experiences using a hands-on approach. The goal is to respect the innate capacities (innate learning method) children develop and follow on their own – fostering their sensory perception, motion, and curiosity.
The identity of every single child is not only shaped by their brain but by the collective whole of all their muscles, nerves and organs.
A child’s body is the part most exposed to collecting experiences, feeling self-awareness, and sharing knowledge. For the large majority of adults the body is the most intimate, protected, but also widely underestimated and least respected possession they have. Acknowledging that the body is the protagonist of children’s innate learning method radically reframes perspectives and approaches on the meaning of pedagogy, education, and early learning.
This is Embodied Learning
I engage adults in discovering a complementary perspective on the body, which is what children have and use to learn.
Reconnecting educators (adults) with young students (children) is the essential step in giving education the impulse to move forward and organically develop in the new Century.
My Work with Clients, Inspired by Children
- We experiment and try things out practically, hands-on, as children do. Enjoyment is key.
- We then work together to understand the results, through a guided process of reflection and embodied cognition.
- Finally, we evaluate the implications and how to apply what we have created.
Failure Is Great
Every mistake is an open invitation to try things out again, to reflect and analyze, to implement and evaluate. This is what stops learning from fossilizing. I also adore problems! Have you ever tried to enjoy a problem?
We Are Lucky
We have inherited a solid foundation from the past century, which we can build on. My method draws on the work of four great pioneers in education. I have reworked their concepts to meet the needs of children, teachers, and educators in the 21st century.
Bruno Munari (1907-1998)
Munari was a great designer even before the profession as we know it today existed. Through his quirky creations and brainchildren he showed the world how to simplify the complex. Munari was a proponent of having fun while learning, experiencing joy while doing things, and designing objects according to their function. Here’s my favorite quote of Munari’s:
“To enter the world of a child the least you must do is sit down on the ground without interrupting the child in whatever he’s doing, and wait for him to notice you. It will then be the child who makes contact with you, and you (being older, and I hope not in vain), with your higher intelligence, will be able to understand his needs and his interests, which are by no means confined to the bottle and the potty. He is trying to understand the world he’s living in, he’s groping his way ahead from one experience to the next, always curious and wanting to know everything.”
Malaguzzi developed the so-called “Reggio Emilia approach” to early childhood education and was probably the only person in the world capable of transforming the natural, physiological need of human beings to use their imagination to express themselves into an internationally successful educational method. Here’s my favorite quote of his:
“I believe there is no possibility of existing without relationship. Relationship is a necessity of life. From birth, children are in continuous relationships. They have this need, this desire, to master interaction: to be protagonist one time, to be listener another time. And then, to be a protagonist again. For children, a dialogue opens this game of playing different parts. Children have the great fortune to know how to pull thoughts and meanings from one another’s voices. They can speak in images that are close but also images that are remote. To adults, these images may appear out of focus, but they are always close to the sensitivity of children.”*
Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
This household name needs no introduction. To me, Montessori means memories. I experienced and enjoyed a Montessori education at preschool and elementary school, and I find two cornerstones of her approach vitally important. The first is the key role of the so-called ‘prepared environment’, which I believe to be central to the responsibilities of every educator. The second is the focus on a child’s independence; ‘Help me to help myself’. For me, her words succinctly sum up the importance of learning through embodied cognition:
“The child has to acquire physical independence by being self-sufficient; he must become of independent will be using in freedom his own power of choice; he must become capable of independent thought by working alone without interruption. The child’s development follows a path of successive stages of independence.”
Hugo Kükelhaus (1900-1984)
Kükelhaus spent his entire life studying the relationship between human perception and various forms of social behavior. He was a leading pedagogue in the field of sensory experience, that of both children and adults. And here’s my favorite quote of his:
“And yet no one can deny that man is a universe in which thinking is just one process among many. Or, to put it another way: Man is not shaped by his brain, but by the collective whole of all his organs. As a consequence, cultural evolution can only be accomplished by incorporating the entire human organism into the process.”
Get in Touch
These four leading thinkers have had a critical impact on my own understanding of quality, time and communication in education. They have taught me how to build and streamline my method which can be summarized in three simple words: Experiment, Understand, Apply.
In my thirteen years of working in the education and service sectors, I have coached a range of educators, teachers, school administrators, child librarians, museum educators, child care, educational startups and company owners. Through our collaboration, they have become far more aware of the role they can play in supporting the innate learning method that children display to us each day.
All we need to do is listen to children. They will always show us the way.