Image of the Child

Thursday, 16 July 2015

     Summer learning included a week long stay in Ontario, Canada where I attended the Transform Ed Workshop Series, given by Joanne Babalis.  There she shared her Masters' research on the seven layers of Inquiry-Based learning. The first layer, and the focus of this post, is the image of the child. Following blog posts will discuss the other layers that include time, space, materials, listening, documenting and planning.
     My own image of the child, consciously or unconsciously, affects everything I do in the classroom including how I set up my space, what my schedule looks like, what materials I use, and how I document student learning.  Most importantly, it impacts my interactions with children and how they come to view themselves as learners.
    For example, if I believe that children are capable of making their own choices, then I will give them freedom in choosing where to sit, play, and study.  In turn, the children will learn that their ideas and opinions matter. 
    A few years back, I had the privilege of sitting in on a conversation between author Bruce Coville and some students at my church. He was asked to talk with them about his spiritual beliefs. He told the children, “When what you believe and what you do are one in the same -  you are at your very best.” 

     In reflecting on my own image of the child I can see that there is sometimes a gap between what I believe and what I do in the classroom.  While I might tell you that I believe in a child’s ability to choose, I am making many of the decisions for the children and so my practices tell a different story. 
     In order to bridge that gap, I need to get real clear about my own beliefs before beginning any planning for next year.  I thought it might be helpful for me to find a photo or illustration that depicts my image of the child. I chose this one by illustrator Julia Woolf.   

When I look at this, I see children who are playful, joyful, curious, free, and creative. They are full of wonder and I’ll bet if I could talk to these children, they would have a lot to say!
     What is your image of the child and does it match what you are doing in your classroom?

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