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"Imagination is more important than knowledge"
That banner-statement of Einstein's came back to me yesterday, as I was reflecting on the questions and uncertainties of an enthusiastic team of educators with whom we're currently working. Keen to thoroughly shift their practice from 'instruction' to 'construction', they are encountering that 'rug-pulled-from-under-their feet' feeling of what it might mean to do things differently, with a different mindset:
"What should we do if we're not instructing?"
"What if the children have different interests and ideas to ours?"
"How can we understand what to do?"
Their imagination is kindled, nudging them towards 'doing things differently', yet like many/most of us, their own experience of 'what education is' had been solidly instructional: that's what they'd had, and that's the common practice in the schools around them. Very unsettling, to say the least. I recall how education students participating in our Floor Four exploratorium also discussed how they felt initially de-skilled by the challenge of beginning with listening and observation, rther than predefined ctivities (as they'd been taught in college.)
How different the challege is to work with imagination at the fore, rather than repetition and ingestion.
What a positive call of encouragement Einstein's famous proclamation is, and I was prompted to hear more, so I tracked down the 1929 interview. If you click on the statement , you can read the full interview too - I hope you enjoy it as much as did I. Einstein discusses so much, so elequently - the artistry of being, thinking, examining, living - and the serious danger of living withough so doing.
"Life," Einstein said later in a letter to his son, "is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."
Maybe that is good enough advice for us educators too, as we learn, uncertainly, but with inner energy, how to do things differently: learning how better to work with our children who themselves are also born natural examiners of worlds.
Here is a documentation project which is powerful and poignant for all those moved by the story of Reggio Emilia and the emergence of its preschools. Prof. Dr. Sabine Lingenauber & Janina von Niebelschütz of Fulda University have been engaged on a three-year interview and research project which projects the experiences of the determined young women of Reggio Emilia in the 1940's. RESISTANCE-RELATIONSHIPS-MOVEMENTS are very apt constructs in their presentation of these powerful interview-memoirs.
"The narrations of Ione Bartoli, Eletta Bertani, Giacomina Castagnetti, Loretta Giaroni, Lidia Greci, Marta Lusuardi and Carla Maria Nironi bear witness to events that should be remembered. They show how female partisans, citizens, councillors, politicians and municipal councillors influence the development of a new form of education (Reggio Emilia Approach) in Reggio Emilia from the Resistenza (1943–1945), to the women's movement and up until today."
Three DVDs are in production, and you can view clips from them here on their website, and a further introductory compilation on Youtube
Last week OFSTED released the Bold Beginnings report into Reception classes. This report brings into stark contrast the values, beliefs and perspectives of those that seek to evaluate and bring to account provision for young children and of those who understand and support their learning processes.
Are we still bystanders as education becomes simply something to be measured by politicians, despite all that parents and teachers and children know?
Chris Merrick looks at the implications of the report in the light of a recent presentation and call to action by Professor Peter Moss, of the Institute of Education, London.