By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. With the fullness of time, I have begun to go deeper in my understanding of the process of documentation that is pedagogical. Time is a gift I was given during the week that was The Rhythm of Learning in Nature 2016. In the inaugural season of #Rhythm2015, my gift for the volunteer work that I do with the York Region Nature Collaborative was the opportunity to learn together with others in place. That place is Swan Lake, a magical space of trees, trails, lake, and wildlife. It is in this place that we find our rhythm of learning together with educators and children.
For #Rhythm2016, the gift of space and people continued but with the addition of time, the experience deepened and the learning grew exponentially. This year, 23 educators from Canada, the US, and the UK together with 6 facilitators from Canada, the UK and Sweden, along with 10 children and two forest school teachers found their rhythm of learning at Swan Lake. We extended the experience in the evenings with tours of inspiring spaces and a workshop. For me, hosting Debi Keyte-Hartland who blogs at Debi Keyte-Hartland: Creativity and Innovation in Education and Suzanne Axelsson from Interaction Imagination in my home for 10 days was indeed a gift of time leading to cherished memories.
Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart’s desire. John Dewey
It was during this time, that I continued to build my understanding of the process of pedagogical documentation. I am constructing meaning over time. For many years, I have been challenged by the concept of pedagogical documentation as I tried to teach something that I had not practised. When I practised as an early childhood educator in the 1980s, I did not encounter pedagogical documentation. It had not made its way into the vernacular of practice in my North American context. Now it is part of How Does Learning Happen? (2014) my province’s pedagogy for the early years and considered a pedagogical approach that nurtures learning and development as a “means to value, discuss, and make learning visible” (p. 16). Now I realize that for pedagogical documentation to “open us up to relations and meanings that we had not thought to look for”as so eloquently written in Making Learning Visible Through Pedagogical Documentation by Carol Anne Wien, we must take the time to realize the gifts embedded in the process.
We began the week that was #Rhythm2016 with a visit to the Wonder of Learning exhibit from Reggio Emilia which is currently in Toronto, Ontario. I was drawn to the panels about the stairway. “As children go up and down a staircase at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre they perceive its particular sound effects” (Reggio Children, 2011, p. 57). Time was given and used by these children to listen with new ears and to draw their interpretations of sounds in the stairway. The idea that different shoes might produce different sounds gave way to an experience that lead to a collection of sound, sound-writing and sound composition. Then the children came up with ideas for a gift for the stairway. The investigation of sound and the stairway took time. The documentation collected resulted in the publication of the panel in the exhibit and in the book, The Wonder of Learning: The Hundred Languages of Children. It is clear that ample time was taken before these panels went public. Time to support children’s learning at a deeper level was necessary. Without time, the poetry and gift of this exhibit would not be evident.
This concept of gifts resonated for all of us. We ended the week by gifting Swan Lake to show gratitude for the place and the experience of learning together in nature. These powerful moments lead to tears, laughter, and lasting memories.
The gifts from #Rhythm2016 will keep giving as deep thinking and reflection continue. Reframing how I conceived pedagogical documentation has been a gift. Seeing it more as process that takes time than a product that becomes public has revealed the endless possibilities that it can offer. We cannot rush to make our documentation public. We must take time in the observation phase to continue to make observations of our observations. This will deepen understanding of how learning happens and offer us insights into children’s thinking and ideas. Of the many gifts that #Rhythm2016 had to offer this year, the opportunity to have a pedagogical dialogue with four other Reggio-inspired educators following our week long professional learning experience was priceless.
During this time, I began to understand more about the importance of time in the process of pedagogical documentation. Without time, reflection, and action what we are producing is merely documentation and not pedagogical. Too often, I see educators rush to publish their documentation and by doing so what is made visible is merely about interests and the recounting of an event. During our dialogue together, Debi drew a graphic to illustrate the complexity of the process that requires time. With more time with my friend and colleague, Cindy Green we have tried to illustrate our new found learning that is still evolving with the creation of a graphic. We share it with you now, and welcome your interpretations so that we may continue to receive the gifts that time has to offer.
One has to respect the time of maturation; of development; of the tools of doing and understanding, of the full, slow, extravagant, lucid and ever-changing emergence of children’s capacities, it is the measure of cultural and biological wisdom ~ Loris Malaguzzi