"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift; the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift" Albert Einstein
Everyone is born with an innate curiosity and compelling desire to learn; if this were not the case, we would not survive. We have the capacity to learn at an astonishing rate in our early years and the magic of discovery is particularly strong as there is something new to unearth on a daily basis - how to walk, how to talk, that worms live in soil, that cats scratch when you poke them hard with a stick, that Mummy isn't sure why the sky is blue but there is someone called Google who she'll ask after she's finished her jobs. Life is learning on a daily basis.
Children want to learn because they want knowledge or to acquire a skill that will enhance their way of living. Potty training, skipping, dressing themselves; so many skills are learnt so that they achieve happiness and also move towards independence as they grow.
This innate desire to learn and desire for independence is essential when teaching skills to children (to anyone, actually) as this provides motivation. If they are switched off or don't see the point then, immediately, there is a barrier; with a barrier comes tension; with tension comes struggle....and so the negative spiral towards disengagement, apathy or behavioural problems begins.
Here at The Sala we believe that the role of the teacher is to find out what the student wants and fire them up with enthusiasm by using resources and ideas that are inspiring. The secret lies in the tools used and how they are delivered - using lots of tools and mediums will encourage creative expression. The teacher is also always learning and not afraid to admit mistakes as this models to children that it is a part of the learning process and that nothing bad will happen - conversely - the outcome will be improvement.
Scenarios are as realistic as possible so children can see the point behind the skills they are learning.
We find out what interests the child has and facilitate them in seeking out more knowledge and understanding of these interests. This capacitates learning on a level that is unachievable if the child is merely told to learn facts and figures about some inconsequential date or chemical or whatever. The child's interests guide and then we weave in key skills such as literacy or numeracy wherever possible. Building days around projects and themes is an effective way of achieving this. Allowing the child choices in their learning also enables this.
Discussion and lots of it is an essential part of our day. We consider, explore and explain ideas in order to open the topic up, not close it down, so that divergent thinking and limitless possibilities are accessible to the child. When there is no set answer to a question, there is no risk of getting it wrong (in the clip on this page, Tina Seelig explains this really well) this instills confidence and encourages creativity. We try to think about the questions we ask.
All of the above melded together bring teaching and learning to life, inspire confidence and the teacher gains as much from the experience as the student because they are swept away in the enthusiasm they are helping to create; enthusiasm is contagious and we have lots of fun at The Sala.