Nothing without Joy: The Joys of Intentionality and Meaning Making while Messing About

By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. This blog is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of what I do collaboratively in a social and transparent context. In my professional life I am a teacher educator and professional learning consultant. I am constantly dialoging about the big ideas in my practice. Ultimately I am ethically responsible to meet learner outcomes so I often think about making meaning of my practice in order to help others make meaning of theirs.  The fact that this blog has attracted attention from readers around the world and that it is being shared by others in their research, contributes to the validation of the process I have chosen for my professional learning. Thank you to our followers and to all of the visitors that have dropped by this site since  this blog was started to make meaning.

One of the ways I like to make meaning is to mess about. Messing about is a process used by teachers to explore and investigate materials and objects in an unstructured way with the intent to make meaning and ideally to come closer to the idea of what it means to teach. I have found that I can engage in this process by using and creating with new technologies. I am learning through social media and I am becoming cautiously excited about the process. I see the process as a form of pedagogical leadership. At the core a pedagogical leader considers how children learn best. I consider how adults learn best about how children learn best. Even though the term “best” is value laden I choose to use the utopian vision of what is best to guide my investigations. I value messing about on my computer and mobile devices – it gives me a chance to learn new things. For children I especially support and value the potential of loose parts. A leader puts their values out there at the same time that values should not be stagnant and as the learning process continues, new perspectives come to light. I am now open to the infinite possibilities of learning through social media. The way I have gotten to this point is by messing about with these new technologies. I am investigating Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, Scoop it, LinkedIn, Evernote and so on and so on. I am slowly gaining skills and followers. I follow my followers and so my followers are leaders too.

I am diving into the social media world and learning as I go. Learning is about discovery and social media provides the opportunity to uncover possibilities that will lead to other opportunities for further learning. When we received an email from Ellen Hall a few weeks back I realized the power of my messing about and how serendipitous my journey is becoming. One of Ellen’s colleagues showed her the blog post on Loose Parts! And now I have had a chance to reconnect with one of our giants. I have had numerous opportunities to work with Ellen and to hear her speak in the past. It was at the Journey School in Boulder Colorado that Ellen introduced me to the Hawkins Room for Messing About with Materials and Ideas, inspired by David and Frances Hawkins

The room which serves as an adult studio and think tank is an inspiring place which made me want to have one too! I hold on to this dream while continuing to explore and play with our social media platforms. Now, thanks to the scaffolding experience of reconnecting with Ellen, I am doing it guided by the words and wisdom of David Hawkins.

February 28th, 2013 would have been the 100th birthday of David Hawkins who along with his wife Frances, an early childhood educator, were “committed to the idea that in order to best serve children, teachers need to be dedicated learners as well (Lynch, Shaffer, & Hall, 2009, p. 54). Teachers like children need to mess about. David Hawkins was a famous scientist who devoted much of his life to helping adults see the value in messing about.

In the words of David Hawkins …

There is a time, much greater in amount than commonly allowed, which should be devoted to free and unguided exploratory work (call it play if you wish, I call it work). Children are given materials and equipment – things- and are allowed to construct, test, probe, and experiment without superimposed questions or instructions (Hawkins, 2002. p. 68).

I am so excited to learn from Ellen about the new travelling exhibit from the Hawkins Centres of Learning Cultivate the Scientist in Every Child: the Philosophy of Frances and David Hawkins, the exhibit created by Hawkins Centers of Learning, which is now on display at The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colorado. that we both set up Hawkins Centres of Learning Pinterest boards so I could archive the images and resources that reflect and demonstrate my current investigative interest.

I am playing with technology; constructing, testing, probing and experimenting without superimposed questions or instructions. Please join! It is more fun to play with others.

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