Our classroom is moveable. We held various configurations depending on our intentions. Because the tables are so flexible, and hold so many bodies, we were able to use them in many different ways such as banquet-style for meal-times and large gatherings, to theatre style for puppet shows and media-sharing, and studio style small or large group work. We hosted three successful Learning Museums, showcasing our inquiries and project work with over 40 visitors at one time. Our Natural Pod products offered a flexible and beautiful foundation to display and invite others into our learning. For instance, a playstand arch and black fabric cascaded into wavelike home for our actual-sized animal sculptures. Presenting our work in this way seemed to amplify its sophistication, inspiring the adult viewer to hold, possibility, a new, richer interpretation. I heard many parents say, “Wow, this is really good!”
“Good architecture provides spaces where strangers interact to become friends.” -Marvin Bartel, 2015
“Children are miracles. Believing that every child is a miracle can transform the way we design for children’s care. When we invite a miracle into our lives, we prepare ourselves and the environment around us. We may set out flowers or special offerings. We may cleanse ourselves, the space, or our thoughts of everything but the love inside us. We make it our job to create, with reverence and gratitude, a space that is worthy of a miracle! Action follows thought. We can choose to change. We can choose to design spaces for miracles, not minimums.” — Anita Rui Olds, 1999
Sometimes I hear critique of the phrase, “environment as the third teacher” as if too much importance is placed on “stuff”. Inspired environments aren’t just about the “stuff” but rather the products’ affordances that foster inquiry, creativity, and play; and deepen the adult’s appreciation of the child and their learning. They offer a wind to catch the sails of change towards an education paradigm that values creativity and taps into our pedagogical artistry.
“The aim of education ought to be conceived as the preparation of artists…individuals who have developed the ideas, the sensibilities, the skills and the imagination to create work that is well proportioned, skillfully executed, and imaginative, regardless of the domain in which an individual works. The highest accolade we can confer upon someone is to say that he or she is an artist whether as a carpenter or a surgeon, a cook or an engineer, a physicist, or a teacher.” -Eliot Eisener, 2002, 2005
I am a teacher. Through this project, I realize that I am an artist. Playfully inquiring in my classroom alongside my Kindergarten partners has been delightful. I dwelled in possibility; developed and celebrated creativity and mulitliteracies; and realized (some of) my dreams for children, teaching, and learning. I can’t wait to see what will happen next year…