The Third Teacher

Reggio Emilia is a learning theory which considers the environment to be the third teacher.  I’ve liked this concept since I first heard it.  It seems so logical; it’s brilliant.

Like cognitive learning, learning from the environment is something I was exploring without knowing the name for it.  To a less effective degree, I was also attempting to create a learning environment for my students: books, posters, reading material, etc.

I’m not sure how I feel about artificially-created environments.  When I was “improving” my room at the tutoring centre, it felt a little like applying a band-aid.  Yes, it made the room a little more appealing, but it did not make the room a “learning environment”; nothing was healed or made whole.

Perhaps the onus is on the learner; each person is responsible for learning what they can from the environment they’re in.  My children currently have an interest in hanging around Toronto; my son likes Yonge Street, and my daughter likes Kensington Market.  What interests me is that I would have assumed the opposite: my son is a hippie, and my daughter is considerably more modern and obsessed with fashion.  So, then, why are they each interested in an environment which is different from what they already know?  What are they learning from these environments?  Are they complementing the knowledge they have, or are they deliberately venturing into the unknown?

Now, I wanna watch people in different environments.  Toronto’s a good place, ’cause if you stare at people for a long time they just assume you’re crazy.  Now, can I get my students out of their houses and into Kensington…?

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