In the Yogic tradition the word “Namaste” is often used as an expression of gratitude; a way to say “the light in me sees, honors & appreciates the light in you.” I think of this inner light like our inner child. What would the world be like if everyone remained connected to and honored their inner child?…. Imagine the possibilities….
Maxine Greene encourages us to “Think of things as if they could be otherwise”, and who does this better than children? As a teacher-researcher, children inspire me to approach inquiry with curiosity and creativity. An inquiry stance rooted in childlike openness and awe frees me from getting caught up in worry about outcomes or preconceived notions about how or where learning “should happen”.
I see children as fearless explorers… they inspire me to joyfully regard our virtual learning environment of Zoom as a window to the world and a path to connection; rather than a barrier. Children remind me that learning happens everywhere and our inner light guides us through it all. This reminder is ever-present in my experiences since 2020 in virtual early childhood education. Connecting with people, ideas and ourselves in the virtual realm will never completely replace the importance of in-person experiences, but it has certainly enhanced (and I believe it will continue to enhance) the human experience.
Malaguzzi suggests that as educators “Our task is to help children communicate with the world using all their potential, strengths and languages, and to overcome any obstacle presented by our culture.”
In my action research as an all-virtual educator I witness children asking questions using the hundred expressive languages….and sharing stories that contain their ideas, experiences, people, animals, projects and objects from home….as if to ask “Do my interests matter?” “Do the things that make me happy make you happy too??” They remind me that questions and stories, in all forms, are paths to greater connection and understanding.
Storytelling is the most ancient form of education. It is about remembering, making, and sharing images that bind together time, nature and people. During my time as a graduate student focusing on the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education I realized how children’s literacies evolve alongside the dynamic relationships between knowledge, tools and learning environments ….and their play, storytelling and ways of creating are indications of this evolution.
In my action research I witness connection. Through child- initiated questions, experiments, stories and games they are building relationships with people, ideas, technology and the world. In a class with children from the US, Australia and Singapore one child’s mom shared how her daughter is now playing with her stuffed animals and pretending they’re in different time zones, like the friends in our class. Every day I witness children joyfully creating and sharing. As if to ask “Do I matter?”, “Do my ideas matter?” “Do you see me?” “Do you want to be my friend?”
Malaguzzi talks about systems of education imposed by society, which sometimes means creating very limiting, rigid systems…but I wonder….is a society-imposed system always a bad thing? What if we as educators respond to the elements of our society that are seeking deeper, more meaningful connections?
When we give voice to our inner child, I think we realize that we never truly lose the light that is our curiosity and power to fearlessly inquire, innovate and connect. In a world where so many are struggling to remember their light, these are gifts we must share with everyone around us- so that ALL of our lights may glow brighter.