You are a researcher

If I said to you “you are a researcher”, would you brush that off as being untrue? Historically, a teacher was the holder of all knowledge. And a student was the recipient of this knowledge. The child learnt by listening, reciting, copying, observing and remembering all of the knowledge and information that the wise teacher handed to them. This method of teaching and learning still exists today to some degree, however, there has been a massive shift in thinking and practice to an alternative (and better!) approach to education. 

We now know, that when a child is an active participant in the learning process, they develop truly meaningful skills and a deeper level of understanding and knowledge. 

They develop a fabulous thing referred to as agency. Agency is the internal drive that helps children build their creativity, curiosity, courage, perseverance, responsibility and confidence needed for acquiring new knowledge. 

boy playing with dinosaurs

So what does this mean for teachers who are used to “teaching”? 

Over the years, the role of a teacher has changed. You no longer only “teach”. You cultivate and foster the skills children need to construct their own knowledge. Now, this can make some of us feel a little uncomfortable, this looks nothing like the way we were schooled back in the day, does it? 

Becoming accustomed to feeling uncomfortable seems like a weird thing to suggest, but I challenge you to try and view it in a different way. The feeling of being uncomfortable stems from not knowing what will happen next. In all areas of life, it is those times of not knowing, that the greatest learning happens. You don’t need to have all of the answers to children’s questions, in fact, giving children the time, space and tools to make their own discoveries is a powerful strategy for their learning and development. 

What this does require of you, is for you to become a researcher. But STOP!! There is no need for you to sign up to work towards your PhD! There are some skills and ideas that will help you to become a researcher, working alongside young children as you both make new discoveries. 

Recently Diane Kashin hosted a webinar that looked deeply into children’s interests and theories as inspiration for programming. In this webinar, Diane talked about teachers being researchers. As a start, she suggested that we bring 4 things to the work we do with young children.

  1. Bring your curiosity
  2. Bring your wonders
  3. Bring your theories
  4. Bring your research tools – pen, paper, recording devices

You can find out more about being a researcher when working with young children by watching the replay of Diane’s free workshop. You will leave with strategies to help you better understand children’s passions and interests. And you might just finish with a new appreciation for feeling uncomfortable and not knowing the answers!

Posted by Sonya McIntyre

Sonya was born in Lower Hutt and went to Rata Street Kindergarten and Petone Kindergarten. A qualified ECE, she studied at Victoria University in Wellington and has worked with home-based educators, in community-based childcare and in kindergarten. With childhood memories of reading books and writing stories, combined with her passion for all things social media, Sonya segued into her role with us at Storypark as social media manager.


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