There is some fun stuff going on at SEEC these days. Over the course of the past year and a half, we’ve seen some big changes. Our teachers shifted from using a theme based curriculum to a more emergent approach. They are encouraged to experiment with new ideas and ways of doing things. They are being challenged to be extra thoughtful about their classroom environment. Our museum educators are listening to what the students’ interests are and providing museum visit suggestions that support each group’s individual interests. SEEC educators are helping with our new Saturday workshops for families with children between 6 months and 6 years. As we give parents and children a chance to explore the museums, experience hands-on activities and share stories, we discover new and better ways of doing things from one week to the next.
In addition, we have educators thinking about the role museums could play in supporting a child’s sense of self identity. The result of this long term action research project will be an article featured in the Museums & Society journal later this year. Another fascinating project that one of our museum educators is working on with our three, four and five year olds is based on current work of the Smithsonian’s Office of Policy and Analysis. Each child is given a choice about which of four activities they would like to participate in during their museum visit that day. Once the students arrive at the museum, the class splits up into four small self selected groups and a different teacher leads each pre-planned gallery based experience. The theory that is being explored states that there are four major types of experiences to which people are drawn: Ideas (conceptual thinking), People (emotional connection), Objects (visual language), and Physical (physical sensation). What SEEC is wondering is whether these traits are easily identified and determined in very young children.
These activities reflect a new direction for SEEC. Watch for more information on the development of SEEC’s Center for Innovative Early Learning (CIEL) where this spirit of experimenting, taking risks and wondering together is embraced.