Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Is there a place for Connectivism in the early years setting?

Am going to mull over this question - On route to establish an understanding of ‘connectivism’ as a learning theory I find myself pondering the notion of ‘connectivism’ in the context of the early years environment. No surprises there, I’m an ‘early years ‘undergrad with aspirations to teach key stage one. If this is the future – then I’m on it! Yet I find myself desperately trying to fit the self determined, ‘learn what you need’ social networked, teacher-as- a-navigator-not-an-instructor approach to this age group – who, let’s face it, in my experience, need something more than ‘guidance and navigation’ in many areas - especially when you are teaching a class (of 30 with mixed ability and high possibly of some with SEN) such fundamentals as reading and writing and numerical basics? On reflection of group discussion today, I sense that the meaning and interpretation of connectivism isn’t universal. Some believed connectivism to be when a child interacts in a class environment – with peers and maybe learning experience – but to me, this interpretation isn’t what I would personally class as a ‘new learning theory’ and I don’t see it as young children using connectivism (as I understand it) – let me expand - School experience during the early years is always (to a certain extent) going to be directed by a teacher with clear, communicated learning objectives for the child – that’s not because the teacher is trapped in a time warp of being ‘all powerful and holders of the knowledge’ – but because, there are basics that have to be taught.... How can you empower young children with a free rein on their learning when, in the early years there are obvious ‘objectives’ that a child has to establish as a foundation to their future learning – (that may indeed involve connectivism?) Even if I turn this around and suggest that children experiencing the EYFS are in fact, in a certain way, ‘controlling’ their own learning through play – hence, perhaps they are using connectivism of a sort – the EYFS is still delivered with clear guidelines and outcomes. I don’t see that as negative, in that we are ticking the boxes of our children’s achievements, but as a positive monitor that encourages inclusive education.
Now – as the child gets older – in FE, HE (actually even at secondary level,) the benefits of connectivism become clearer and I see with more confidence how it can become a powerful tool for the learner – but in the KS1/early years setting, I see the role of the teacher is one of delivering the building blocks of their education to encourage a sound and literate foundation –surely the age of these children will demand a more prescribed and planned approach?
I totally see how connectivism will enhance my personal learning experience and perhaps I can utilise my established networks into the teaching of my future class – maybe that’s the link to early years I’m after?


Crystal said...

other people's comment on children's learning from each other in the classroom isn't a new theory. In fact, is existing learning theory which now using in the school already. To me, connectivism is about internet, learners learn through the internet and use it as tools to gain or discuss the information. For children who are in the early years shouldn't get involve too much with internet or the soical networking on the internet. Maybe educational websites or school websites will benefit the young children but certainly not the blogs, facebook etc.
You are right with your view on the future education and had read through so many books and articles. other people should respect your opinion and listening to you what were you trying to express. I feel sorry what you been through today in the lesson and you did a great job on this.

Jen said...

Not at all Crystal - I felt for you when you lost it a bit. For me it wasn't the discussion that I was feeling stressed about at all. In fact, I really enjoy a good discussion and debate, opinions of others make it interesting and it's good to hear how others interpret something - especially when I am still trying to search for my own clarity. I don't feel like I am in any way an expert at all, regardless of how much I read and can rant!... I'm just learning like us all....The frustration for me today was the lack of clarity I was understanding about where this module is taking us. I felt confused because of a communication issue. I've brought this up with lin and feel confident that she will take it on board. On a positive note - I loved the country presentation - didn't you?