Resources, Experts, and Interdependence



Life isn’t about being an expert in everything. It’s about being an expert in one thing and offering it to the world. – Bo Sanchez

Being an expert at something gives us a chance to pass on our skills to others, to help our peers, and to feel confidence in our own abilities. As a teacher, it also helps me meet my own goal of interdependence in the classroom. While teachers are always here to help, it is valuable for children to know they can also look to one another for help. Also it teaches us that there are other resources beyond our small world: books written by experts in various field, parents in our classroom or other classrooms, local chefs or artists, museum guides or community workers.

The idea that no one is an expert at everything, that we all have something to learn from one another, is something that we all can benefit from. 


L was using face paint to transform himself into a giraffe. A thought that giraffes had brown spots, L thought giraffes had black spots. They asked me and I admitted that I actually wasn’t entirely sure but that perhaps we could look to see if we could find a book about giraffes. I opened up our cabinet and pointed out to them that we have an entire section about animals. We found one that beautifully illustrated wild animals.

Me: This is a book by an author called Mark Carwardine. We can use the index to see if there are giraffes in this book.

I found giraffes in the index, and held up the page.

L: A, you were right, they have brown spots!


Reading the authors name before reading a book has become an important practice for me, I value acknowledging that someone compiled information to create a resource for us to use. It is also a way to build upon the idea of people being experts. The book is a resource for us because people were experts in their field and shared information with others. This is something we can do too!


When talking about how to facilitate this thread of being an expert in our classroom with our school’s pedagogista, she mentioned that her son who is in another classroom in our school is learning how to tie knots and could possibly be a resource for us.

L was outside trying to tie yarn onto a dinosaur as a leash. She was struggling and asked me to help. I told L that I have never learned how to make strong knots but that S, in Preschool Two, is somewhat of an expert in making knots and that perhaps he would be willing to help us.

We walked over to Preschool Two and S told us about a few different types of knots, such as a slip knot, and tried to help us tie the knot. The knots he tried to tie didn’t work, but he was able to make the yarn stay on the dinosaur enough that L was satisfied. I asked S if he would okay with us on occasion coming over for knot making help. He said, “Sure, you can also ask L (one of his former teachers), she can make good knots.”


Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all. – Erik Erikson

I am curious to see how this thread of thinking will impact our exploration of the Charles River this year – as we use resources and experts to help us learn about the River, but also as we explore our impact on the River and the idea that the human component to nature is one of interdependence: we rely on our environment, and it on is. What expertise can we bring forth or develop? How do others’ expertise impact how we interact with the river?

I am also intrigued that the idea of interdependence feels so important to explore this year, in a classroom of so many younger siblings. As a younger sibling who had many interdependence talks with my parents, I wonder about using older siblings as experts, and also teaching older siblings and other family members things we become experts at.

The fundamental law of human beings is interdependence. A person is a person through other persons. – Desmond Tutu



One thought on “Resources, Experts, and Interdependence

  1. Thanks for this, Cynthia.
    You’ve made it so clear how these two threads, of expertise and interdependence connect to so many choices you make in the classroom; from how you introduce a book, to how you respond to a child’s request for help. Sometimes people wonder how teachers make the decision when and how to share our own knowledge or expertise when we are co-creating child-centered curriculum. Here you show a couple of ways; when you don’t know (Lots of adults feel like we need to give an answer, even if we don’t know what colors a giraffe is.) or when you have the opportunity to highlight a child’s expertise.
    Yesterday, I did a workshop with some infant and toddler teachers and we thought specifically about social construction of knowledge and I remember saying “Social construction is not a metaphor for how we learn and where knowledge comes from; it’s LITERALLY how we are learning and creating knowledge.” The new “knot” that S created for L’s dinosaur is in relationship to his other learning about knots and it connects his learning to what L now knows about how to get a knot around the neck of a dinosaur.


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