Middle & High School Enrichment Collaboration:

Where critical thinking is augmented by learning through the emotions and the senses.

In summer 2016 Creating Landscapes will be experiencing its twenty-seventh season while the Gifted and Talented Collaboration (a Landscapes Learning Satellite) launches its eighteenth year. As it turns out this more than a quarter century exploration of learning and teaching has yielded more questions than answers.  Nevertheless some things have become increasingly clear.

We now understand that landscapes learningis differentiated by a commitment to quality, simplicity, integrity, justice and fun.  We have evidence that finding expressive form has the potential to transform individuals, relationships and communities—especially learning communities. We realize that aesthetic experience depends actively enlarging our capacities for noticing, listening, sensing, feeling, and critical thinking.  We do know that the success of our serious playenterprisedepends on choosing our collaborators very carefully and learning how to leverage the resources at hand.  Finally, we now know that of equal value to forming significant questions is finding the courage to challenge traditional answers.

Our clarifications are supported by a theory of learning known as constructivismSome general ideas that come from constructivism may be useful to keep in mind as we continue our processes of rethinking and reforming our educational practices:

  • Mind and art are to be thought of as verbs actively engaged in processes of meaning making…
  • Learning is not the result of development; learning is development.  It requires invention and self-organization on the part of the learner.  Which means that teachers need to allow learners to raise their own questions, generate their own hypotheses and models as possibilities, and test them for viability.
  • Reflective abstraction is the driving force of learning.  Allowing reflection time through journal writing, representation in multi-symbolic forms like song, dance, and story and/or discussion of connections across experiences or processes can help facilitate reflective abstraction and support student meaning making processes.
  • According to Catherine Fosnot, (1989), the classroom needs to be seen as a “community of discourse engaged in activity, reflection, and conversation”.  Its how we generate the further thinking required for us to become an actual learning community!

Speaking of parts of speech (verbs in particular) you might be interested to note that in the twenty-first century revision, Bloom’s Taxonomy of higher to lower-order thinking skills are now gerunds: Creating, Evaluating, Analyzing, Applying. Understanding, and Remembering.

Ultimately, however, recall that ‘how we learn is every bit as important as what we learn’--so deep listening, collaboration, cooperation, and consideration are to be consistently honored!

Jan Hyatt for Creating Landscapes Learning Programs
Allegheny Coordinator Middle and High School Enrichment
August, 2016