Deconstructing Knowledge

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Stand aside for awhile and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, teaching will be different than before. – Loris Malaguzzi

During our first project work group we collected data on wind and various types of natural disasters. Before we can create theories about catching wind, we have to understand what exactly wind is and the various properties of it. So we are beginning to deconstruct their current knowledge, and build it back up based on observations and experiments we will do over the next few weeks.

M: A theory is when someone gets an idea and try to do an experiment to see if they are right or if they were wrong. It’s okay if they are wrong or right. 

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We set up two experiments in the art studio, both designed to test the strength of wind, and the impact it has on various materials.

Me: What do you think will happen to the water when the wind blows on it?

J: It will make a wave.

T: It blows out.

F: It will drain out (of the sensory table)

M: It will blow. J adds blowing sounds and M points and nods at him.

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We started with just water and various levels of wind from a fan. We watched as the water gentle started to ripple, and started to jump and cheer as it moved quicker. Next we added gems.

M: I think the gems will blow away.

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They stood and watched, almost willing the gems to move, but alas they would not. Next we tried a type of paper – which immediately flew across the surface of the water.

F: The wind blew the paper.

T: No gems.

M: Because the gems sink and the paper doesn’t so things that sink can blow.

J: Well my gem moved a little bit.

T: Need strong…stronger wind.

 

I stated: It seems like the theory I am hearing is that things that sink in water can’t be blown by the wind, but things that float can. But perhaps with stronger wind both could be moved. How can we test this theory further?

M: Yeah I think we need maybe a lot of strong wind.

J: I think we need more water.

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Education begins the moment we see them as innately wise and capable beings. Only then can we play along in their world. – Vincent Gowman

We then took turns dropping watercolor paint in front of a fan and watching it blow onto a piece of paper that was on the floor.

T: It goes so far!

F: It sounds like rain drops.

M: It goes from there (front of paper) to there (end of paper)!

We then got more colors and droppers and attempted to see how far we could get the paint to go, and where to stand and how to drop the paint to determine where to the drops would end up.

J: You have to make the wind stronger to blow the paint to the end.

F: We need different wind to get to the end of the paper.

M: It goes to the end when you stand up.

F: Hey I have an idea, next time we should try and make the paint go there (points to the wall).

M: And different wind!

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We finished our time together in a tunnel by the studio. J and F arrived at school and I had been told on their walk over they asked why there was rain in the covered tunnel. I asked this question to the group.

T: The wind did it!

M: Wind blow!

J: The wind blew it sideways.

M: It came from that side (points to one end of the tunnel).

Me: How we you know that M?

M and the rest of the group stand and observe that side of the tunnel quietly for a moment then collectively respond that they aren’t sure.

Me: Let’s see if we can find any clues that may hint which way the wind is blowing the rain in. What do we notice about the tunnel – do both sides look the same?

F: No that side is really wet and that side is only a little bit wet.

M: So it came from that side! (points to the wet side)

Everyone cheers in agreement and runs to the side of the tunnel that is more wet – and we cheerfully jump in the puddles blown in from the wind.

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Ideas fly, bounce around, accumulate, rise up, fall apart, and spread until one of them takes a decisive hold, flies higher and conquers the rest of the group. – Loris Malaguzzi

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