About me

Monday, 24 June 2013

The art of questioning

What is a question?

"Everything. It is a way of evoking stimulating response or stultifying inquiry. It is in essence the very core of teaching." John Dewy

What are we asking questions for?

What type of questions are we asking?

Most teachers would agree that we ask questions of children for the following reasons;
  •  to further children's understanding
  • to stimulate thinking
  • to help children co-construct meaning
  • to promote children's collaboration with their peers
Hand in hand with the art of questioning, is the art of listening."Unless we listen with real and visible interest to children, children will no longer let themselves be seen or heard." Loris Malaguzzi

Art resources - what are we using and why

Critiquing the resources we give children and why we give them to them


One day while my children were using the paint, it dawned on me they were becoming increasingly frustrated wth this medium because they wanted to show intricate details in their work but the paint was not allowing for this. Paint can be clumsy and sloppy until children have the understanding behind the process of painting i.e. painting in layers, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next part. It is important to teach them how to hold a paint brush correctly, and to expose them to varying sizes of brushes so they are able to paint finer detail. We talk about the reasons for choosing certain brushes for example a big brush is good for painting the background because it covers a larger area more quickly than a fine brush.


In my class the children have a selection of ink pens that they can use when outlining their artwork. We had a series of mini lessons where we discussed the pens and the types of lines they could produce depending on the tip of the pen and then what we might think of when choosing each type of pen. For example a 'whispering' pen is a fine tipped pen and is great for delicate detail such as eye lashes, whereas a 'shouting' pen is great for big outlines like hair.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Listening - what does this mean?

"We have always maintained that children have their own questions and theories, and that they negotiate the theories with others. Our duties as teachers is to listen to the children, just as we ask them to listen to one another. Listening means giving value to others, being open to them and what they have to say. Listening legitimizes the other person's point of view, thereby enriching both the listener and the speaker. What teachers are asked to do is create contexts where such listening can take place."
                                                              Carla Rinaldi cited in Edwards, Gandini and Forman (1998)

How do we authentically listen to children?

Listening is not just about listening with your ears, it is about listening with all of your senses. Through listening with all of your senses you will be able to discover provocations for projects and direction in existing projects. Listening with all your senses is not easy. There are many things that stand in the way of authentically listening to children, for example, your values, pre-conceived ideas, assumptions, biases, 'rules' etc etc Listening is not about producing answers for children, rather it formulates more questions. These things challenge us when we try to listen to children.

I recently listened to a presentation by a fellow educator who felt challenged by what the children were 'telling' her. A group of boys in her group loved the cartoon character, Ben 10, they would bring in small figurines and re-inact the cartoon in the classroom. At first she tried to resist this interest and stop the play through 'rules'. Then she realised that the children valued this play and that she wasn't really listening to them. Based on this realisation she changed her tact and embraced this play, encouraging the boys to draw pictures, create sets and props using clay and cardboard, and re-inact the story lines. This developed into a project for the children.

I see my role as an educator to listen, recognise, support, challenge, extend children's thinking and theories by creating an environment where this is valued.