An absolutely fascinating event occured while watching a 14 month young lady during a hot humid March day in Texas. She had been walking and playing around under the aged oak trees energetically for hours and suddenly stopped dead in her tracks and started to wobble her tiny chubby body very focused and aimed toward a black garden hose, cut of at the end to easier fill a kiddie pool. Curiosity sparking inquiry- miracle of learning in the making:
She placed herself between the hose and the little blue plastic pool however her attention was solely focused on a leftover white ceramic cup and the cut off hose. With very clear unmistakable body language she asked to have the water turned on, settled on the wood front porch, and started by taking a big gulp of refreshing hose water.
The responsible grown-up in me panicking worried she might choke, or catch some kind of disease was pushed out of the way by a fascinated observer and the knowledge that the parents were in absolute support of their children exploring anything possible, limiting their adventures only when absolutely necessary or serious danger would arise. Drinking from a garden hose would not have qualified as such.
So, I let her go on- and the more I did, the more I realized this girl was teaching me something here, and she opened up a door to deep reflection about how children learn best. She was learning so so many concepts without any adult involved, without any teacher telling her in endless monologue the properties of water, physics and chemistry, how to best study, ego emphasizing “I know so much more” top down teaching practices. This child was doing what humans have been doing for thousands of years- she was exploring, learning by doing, and assessing by trial and error, and believe it or not, she (and I) felt pure enjoyment while doing it- what a concept!
Movement Method is so much about following the child, a basic principle that seems to be forgotten in many classrooms with all the pressures and expectations educators have to consider. I am not saying teachers do not want to do the right thing, I believe we sometimes get lost in all the expectations and parties we have to please- but let's be honest, we have an obligation to really follow the child first. They are the ones we are serving; they are the hope for our future.
So how can we make it all work? How can we cover a canned curriculum, state standards, Common Core, International Baccalaureate, etc. How does it all fit? The only way we can make this work as teachers is to truly focus on conceptual teaching and inquiry based learning. It is a philosophy that allows us to be artists and cover all the expectations and still put ‘following the child first’ by reframing what we do. Are there certain limitations? Absolutely, especially in the beginning- but the more we train our brain to allow it to be creative and ‘play’ with what we have, the more it becomes natural and enjoyable, limiting burn-out and suffering in the classroom.
Movement Method strategies beautifully tap into this creativity, and take it a step further. The system is aimed to develop strong tribes (as we call it), others might call it cohorts, teams, whatever you name it, the idea is the same- a group of people, passionate about what they do, sharing issues, creative thoughts and ideas, energize each other and feed of each others inspirations. This clever structural idea is immensely helpful for thinking outside the box. Often, it can take just a picture of somebody else's lesson to spark a new idea, a comment on an issue that provides the starting point to move forward on another problem and so on. Every teacher has strengths and to combine them to allow for more conceptual and inquiry based lessons is vital for success. In addition it is FUN!
When we learn conceptually, it becomes globally relevant; we can apply it to multiple situations, and our brain can make more sense of the world around us. When learners explore and inquirer in a conceptual way, they can leave the disciplinary boundaries behind and make the connections the brain needs to grow and thrive. Movement Method has magical tools that allow for conceptual understanding and inquiry based learning, following the child, kindling their interest and their love for life-long learning by understanding their passions, their curiosity, and allowing them to explore in a kinesthetic way in the best possible environment to engage, be curious, and at peace.
There are various stages of inquiry, like guided, independent, depending on the outcome we would like as a learner there is a place for all of them and certainly they can be used in a variety of situations and even combinations.
Here is a very small example on how an independent inquiry and learning experience looks like: This young lady was in a lovely outdoor environment with Cardinal songs accompanying her every move, a soft breeze making the young bright green leaves whisper, and natures paradise of positive stimulations, details sparking curiosity, and the feeling of freedom to explore whatever the heart desired. In this ideal setting for learning, she discovered the cutoff hose and started her inquiry.
First, she needed a drink- she was already exposed to the hose and its function earlier, and she knew this was the place that could satisfy her survival need to stay hydrated (she could have gotten that in the kitchen as well- however, who wants to leave a perfect environment while having fun). She asked for support to turn a very heavy faucet on, and when too much water came out she used her very developed and strong voice to signal she wanted less. She kept on placing her mouth close to the water and kept signaling to adjust the pressure until it was just perfect to take a big satisfying gulp. (she learned about resources, communication, pressure- conceptual and inquiry based)
Then it became a game of enjoyable deeper exploration. She used a white tea mug left out after a lovely family teatime and started to realize she could use the hose to fill the mug. She also figured out when holding the opening of the hose up, there was no water going in the mug (concept of positioning). Carefully look at her face during this exploration- we hardly see deep thinking happening like this in front of a textbook…
At the end she even experienced the concept of space- when her hand went in the cup, she noticed the water left the cup- could she verbalize this- no, but will she really understand it after experiencing it and then hearing about it in school one day- absolutely! We have to experience, inquirer, explore first before we can understand abstract concepts. Following the child's interest and passion as often as we possible can, setting up the environment as ideal as we can and making the best out of an environment that is challenging will allow our children to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. This is why Movement Method is the next huge support step for educators to do things right for our next generation!