For the educators in Reggio Emilia, teaching and learning becomes an art that is expressed through the use of progettazione, project curriculum constructed with pedagogical documentation (Rinaldi, 1998). Projected curriculum may involve projects but this term is not interchangeable with “project curriculum”. The use of projects to engage children is part of the 80-year progressive tradition of education (Spodek & Saracho, 2003). First inspired by the ideas of John Dewey and advocated by William H. Kilpatrick, the term was used to describe the project approach method. Under the assumption that children learn best when their interest is fully engaged and centred, the project method was used in Dewey’s Laboratory School at the University of Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century (Tanner, 1997).
The Project Approach “refers to a way of teaching and learning as well as to the content of what is taught and learned” (Katz & Chard, 1989, p. 3). It is a set of teaching strategies, which enable teachers to guide children through in-depth studies of real world topics. Children are instrumental in deciding the topics, becoming the experts, and sharing accountability of learning with adults (Katz & Chard, 2000). The investigation is undertaken by a small group of children within a class, sometimes by a whole class, and occasionally by an individual child (Katz & Chard, 2000).
How do you currently plan for children’s outdoor experiences? How would you describe what you do? Can you think of ways that you might disrupt the status quo? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts with others.
How many times did the words child-led or child-directed come up in the comments in the discussion? Sometimes these words are juxtaposed with words such as teacher-led or teacher-directed. Often you will see the word “versus” situated between these words such as child-led versus teacher-led and child-directed versus teacher-directed. Is your pedagogical and curriculum approach always one or the other? What would happen in your settings if children were in complete control of the direction of the curriculum? What would happen if you only followed their lead? Perhaps these terms represent a false dichotomy? Click on the word below to find out what this means.
A False Dichotomy is a dichotomy that is not jointly exhaustive (there are other alternatives), or that is not mutually exclusive (the alternatives overlap).
Rather than viewing the ideas of teacher- versus child-led/directed as a dichotomy, it could be seen as a continuum. By clicking on the word, you will see how it is fundamentally different than a dichotomy.
A continuum is a continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct.
Seeing these terms as in opposition of each other may lead some early learning teachers to believe that they have to choose one or the other, that one is better than the other. Once they choose they defend their position and perhaps pronounce judgment on those who are not on their side. Instead, if we use continuum thinking there will be an understanding that curriculum and pedagogy require a balanced approach. Either/or thinking highlights differences, which can lead to great dialogues with like-minded colleagues but sometimes you can find yourself in conversation with someone who thinks differently. If we can all find ourselves along the continuum, maybe even meet in the middle as a place to dialogue from common ground, perhaps we can start to see different perspectives? A continuum highlights our commonalities and is better at depicting a complex topic. It can bring attention to thinking about our choices and actions and where they may be situated along the continuum on any given day.