Intentional jellyfish

Niki Buchan prompts us in Too many questions to be more thoughtful in how we intrude on children’s own explorations of the world.  If we are in too much of a hurry to turn something into a ‘teachable moment’ we can be in danger of turning every experience into the same experience of rote learning colours and numbers, rather than pausing to see the real potential unfold.

What I really like about this post is how Niki shows us both sides of her actions as a teacher.

Niki stands back to let the children explore for themselves.  But she is also ready with her own input at the right moments.

When the children are scared of the jellyfish she is reassuring and informative.  She teaches the children how they can safely touch the jellyfish without being stung.  She encourages the children to see the jellyfish as interesting, and worthy of more attention.  These elements come from her own agenda of encouraging explorative play in a natural environment, though they are also responding to the children showing interest.

Niki also shows us how she was able to find a moment when it seemed right to talk about measurement.  She shows us how she travelled with the natural rhythm of the children’s play, but also saw potential to introduce some of the adult agenda of maths learning.

In this experience, emergent and intentional exist simultaneously. Niki’s story shows us that emergent curriculum and intentional teaching are not opposites that need to be addressed at different times of the day or use different formats or teaching styles. In the best moments of our teaching, they come together.

Niki also takes beautiful photographs.

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