Sunday, November 18, 2007

The pinata model of learning

This weekend I got to spend a lot of time with my 3 1/2 year old son. We were talking about his friend's upcoming birthday. His version went something like this:

His birthday party is next week. We are going to sing "Happy Birthday" and then he'll blow out the candles. We'll all wear hats. Yours will be pink and mine will be purple...

And on and on the story went.

Only later, it dawned on me that he was learning about the party. And he was learning because he was interacting with the story of the party. First, there was going to be a party. Then, there were more and more details (hats, singing, candle blowing, etc.).

And only later still, did I get the image of a pinata. You start with the balloon, which then gets covered with paper mache. Then, the details get added, until you have something special. That's when I started to thing that this is exactly how learning happens. And that it is our job as educators to provide the balloon framework (the basic concepts) on which our students can begin to hang details and meaning.


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