Thursday, July 27, 2017

Learning by Heart

I started this blog as an outlet for my musings on early childhood education.  In my everyday life and experiences, I see boundless examples of the tenets of early childhood education. Education after all is about learning and growth, both in and out of the classroom.  And learning and growth, to my mind, is the purpose of life.

When we think about educating very young children (early childhood is defined as birth to age 8), we are forced to consider the nature of education. What do we want children to learn?  And then we must answer the question, how do children learn? Developmentally appropriate practice, which is the foundation of early childhood education, requires educators to get to know, respect, and appreciate each student's unique strengths, interests, and current skill levels.  Then the teacher can guide and support his/her students   in furthering their skills and knowledge, bringing them closer and closer to discovering and actualizing their best selves.  It's about authentic, individualized learning and growth, and applies to every age and developmental level.  

There are many dimensions to my choice of title, Learning by Heart.  Of course, I love learning (what teacher doesn't?).  I love facilitating learning in others.  I love talking and thinking about teaching and learning.  And I like to think that all this learning is making the world a better place.  So I have an emotional connection to learning.

Learning by heart can also mean learning something so well that it becomes part of you. Things you know by heart are internalized;  you "know" with your whole being.  I'm reading a fantastic book right now called Everyday Holiness, by Alan Morinis.  It's about Mussar, and I found this perfect quote:  "Thoughts do not become part of our lives until they are somehow internalized, as if woven into the flesh of our hearts".  Yes, that's it.  Authentic learning, the learning I see in early childhood education, is learning that takes place for and by the heart.


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