Dr Suzanne Major, who specialises in the anthropology of early childhood education, has written a series of posts for the eePRO webpages of the North American Association for Environmental Education [NAAEE]. This is an extract from her thoughts on Beyond Scaffolding in Early Childhood Education and Education to the Environment:

“Let me share an exert from a book I wrote that talks about a three-year-old’s experience visiting a garden for the first time. This account was based on a two-hour observation session where the child’s reactions and specifically what caught her attention, were documented.

“She opens the gate and walks in the garden. The tall fuchsia hollyhocks first catch her eye with their drooping double flowers, attached to the stem by lime-green finger-like leaves. She goes around the plant, from one flower to the other, lured by their bold colour and intricate petals. Like little ballerinas, they seem to dance in the wind. Standing tall beside them are giant yellow sunflowers, some so heavy that they bow to the little girl, showing their rich brown hearts huddled by long sheer yellow petals. Standing up to them, she measures herself to the tall barky stems. She must stand on her toes to peer into the heart of the flowers. It takes a few moments before she hears the buzzing of yellow bees flying around. Putting her face into one flower, suddenly she sees a few of them busily walking about. She has never been stung, so she just enjoys the sound of the buzzing and the brightness of the sun lighting up the yellow flowers. She pulls back to look at the little forest of giant sunflowers standing so tall, trumpeting to the sun and the sky. She lifts her head to join the choral with her vibrating delight as the sun drops warm kisses on her cheeks.

“Around her, pole beans with their scarlet-red flowers climb up a trellis, bunches of daisies snug up to the garden bench, and rows and rows of tomatoes, celery, summer squash, radishes, potatoes, and sweet peppers grow side by side, up and down the garden. She does not yet see the brown sturdy earth spiders rummaging about at her feet, but she feels the black and white chickadees swooping through, catching them out of the corner of her eyes. A curious little one lands very close to her, perched on a summer flagpole, and chirps away a conversation, showing its yellow sun stroked round belly. The breeze comes in and goes out the garden, flirting with the little girl, carrying the scent of roses nearby, of humid black soil, raising corn fields, and fresh-cut grass.

“Element by element, she will collect information that will fill her thoughts. She will experience sensations and feelings that will compose her experiences. As she puts words on everything, they will take their place in her memory. Close by, the gardener kneeling calls her to join him in his task. He is digging holes to plant blue delphiniums and proposes his intersubjectivity to her. The little girl sees the gardener’s big hat and a grow bed beside him filled with little budding plants. He was waiting for her and offers a fitting straw hat with daisies on it, which she accepts with a smile. He explains that these little plants need to be put into the grown to be able to grow and become bright blue flowers for his bees. She might choose to play with the hat, or kneel on the ground to examine the plants, or she might pick up the trowel to dig some holes. She might be adamant and work hard, or hesitant and be distracted. He will call her attention, encourage her to focus, teach her to identify and name things, to ask questions, and so, a part of their intersubjectivities will intertwine for a while, and elements will be exchanged. She might decide to go play and chase some butterflies for a few minutes.”

If you click on the link (above) to Suzanne’s post, you will see her exploration of what she has recorded in terms of scaffolding (and beyond).

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