Constructing vs. Instructing

Spent an exhausting and exhilarating day in Reggio Emilia today learning about the Reggio Emilia history, values, and even getting a chance to spend some time at one of the 0-3 Infant/Child Centers.  Given that this is my first go-around with the RE philosophy, there was much that was said today that gave me food for thought.  However, there is one notion tonight that is still giving me cause to stop and revisit it.

It is the idea of children constructing knowledge rather than being instructed.  Constructivist ideas are not new to me.  In the elementary school where I work, we do honor children constructing ideas, exploring materials and working on project based assignments – all with the idea to construct some theories about the content presented.  What is new, is that there isn’t an adult agenda per se – it is truly about having the children construct theories, communicate them, try them out, revise them and it isn’t about what the adults think they should know.  This is huge.

During the visit to the 0-3 Infant/Child center the depth of learning was incredible.  The construction of ideas, testing of theories and expression were undeniable.  How then, do we bring this idea of truly constructivist thinking into the elementary world where there are Common Core Standards to teach to, formal tests to administer and a very large list of what we must instruct?  Can we revisit the idea of these standards not as a list of what we must instruct, but as a list of opportunities for children to construct?

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