Child’s age: 3 years 11 months
Setting: outdoor setting
Name of observer: Thi Pham (Sammi)
This morning Allira showed her interest in exploring a sand volcano- a natural phenomenon and feeling the rain during a physical activity.
At 10 o’clock, the weather was a little bit cloudy with gust of wind. Allira was still excited to engage in physical activity with her friends, they took turn to play the slide together. She held the ladder properly by her two hands. Then she put her right feet on the first stair, pushed her body forward then put her left feet on the next stair and climbed up to the slide. When Allira was on the top and ready to slide down, she stretched her wide arms, smiled happily and said “Look! I’m ready! yeah”
Then she ran quickly to the end of the line to wait for her turn. Suddenly, a strong wind blew her hair and it started to rain lightly. “It’s going to rain” Allira said. Then she opened her palms to feel drops of rain touching her two little hands and her face.
Together with other children, Allira was trying herself to put the raincoat on; she finished by doing a zipper skillfully.
After that, she took a sand of bucket, ran to the sandpit to join the activity with others. One by one took turn to build a mound in the sand by shovels when it became bigger and higher. “Look, it’s a volcano” Allira said aloud. She looked like a scientist in a blue raincoat. They made a hole in the top and filled with water. All children were excited to see the water overflowing the hole. Allira pretended to be very scared, she opened her big eyes and yelled loudly “Bum Bum Bum”. “Bum Bum Bum” other children followed each other.
There is clear evidence in Allira’s cognitive development when she showed her perceptual abilities via sensory experiences to explore the world. She felt and heard the sound of strong windy, touched the drops of rain and she know “It’s going to rain”. She acknowledged cause and effect; the sound of volcano “Bum Bum Bum” during make-believe play. She get the information received from the environment to alter the way she interact and explore in the pretend play (Berk, 2013)
There is a big process in Allira’s physical development which has been seen clearly through this experience. Allira is able to keep balance to climb up the stairs with increasing agility and independently. Her fine – gross motor skills have developed as she is able to use zipper herself; run confidently at speed to the sandpit with a heavy sand bucket without falling and build a volcano with a shovel. Her eye-body coordination was also addressed when she could coordinate her vision and body movement. Therefore, she has “a strong sense of wellbeing – Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing” (outcome 3, DEEWR, 2009, p.32)
Allira has great sense of confidence in her physical ability; demonstrated a good social relationship when she was energetic to enjoy, take turn to play independently with others, (DEEWR, 2009, p.21).
Future learning opportunities
To develop Allira’s gross- fine motor skills and mental health by engaging her in dancing, pushing cart, obstacle course, threading beads, tracing her name.
To support her cognitive development and enlarge her knowledge about natural phenomenon by exploring a “real” volcano experience in sensory play
To build positive social-emotional development with her friends and educators by creating a warm and trusting relationship by engaging in activity which she needs to take turn, share and contribute to help each other (outcome 1, DEEWR, 2009).
Physical environment: safe outdoor playing area such as set up a challenging and fun physical activity: pushing cart, climbing or jumping
Access intensive teaching and learning opportunities as well as equipment that facilitates social-emotional interaction.
Sustainable materials/equipment: sand, flour, cooking oil, liquid detergent, baking soda and vinegar, water, wheelbarrow, cart, dough play, beads or play door equipment
Responding to Allira’s cues by asking her questions to express her ideas and give her opinion.
Berk, L. (2013). Child development. Boston: Pearson.
Department of Education, employment and workplace relation (DEEWR) (2009). Belonging, Being
Power of Critical Theory for Adult Learning and Teaching
Unmasking Power Stephen Brookfield in the Power of Critical Theory for Adult Learning and Teaching, OUP Maidenhead 2005
Brookfield’s chapter on the unmasking of power leads him immediately to consideration of the French theorist, Michel Foucault, by whom he was first introduced to the concept of regimes of truth: ‘the types of discourse which it (society) accepts and makes function as true’ (Foucault). Regimes of truth operate to lull teachers into believing they are operating in a power free setting. Brookfield uses Foucault’s description of power to explore the paradox that apparently emancipatory adult education practices can contain oppressive dimensions.
Brookfield rebrands Foucault as a critical theorist on two grounds, firstly that he focuses, in a Marxian fashion, on how existing power relations reproduce themselves and secondly, that he is self-critical about his own theoretical formulations of power. ‘I quote Marx without saying so.’ (Foucault). However, Foucault did not see power only as being imposed from above by a dominant elite. Using the analogy of the connections made by synapses, power is seen as flowing throughout the social body. We are all implicated in the exercise of power, even we do not believe we possess it.
Fundamental to Foucault’s analysis of power is the idea of disciplinary power which is malevolently attentive to our every move and which is constantly exercised by means of surveillance exemplified by a panopticon.
Brookfield balances this analysis of power with what Foucault sees as its necessary corollary, resistance. Like power, resistance can be found in multiple places and can be integrated in global strategies. One example given of this is how oppositional groups can use the internet to organise effectively. Foucault himself was deeply involved in contravening the status quo because he believed in essence that theory is practice.
Looking at the world we now inhabit, it is clear that the all-seeing operation control centres in new prisons are replicated in many other areas of our lives including education, social services and workplaces. Foucault’s concept that surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action, strikes a very sombre chord, particularly as we are voluntarily submitting ourselves, more and more, to such surveillance through the use of social media. Images and comments from decades ago can be retrieved with ease. We may have moved on, but what we did or said is frozen in time, ready to be immediately defrosted at a touch of a search button. Within education, opportunities for asynchronous learning through virtual learning environments can in fact be perfect weapons of surveillance used to assess the apparent engagement of the learner with the materials provided.
The idea that we can derive pleasure from disciplining ourselves is disturbing, but it rings true. Brookfield makes an association between this and Gramsci’s notion of most people’s willingness happily to embrace ideas, value and interests which actually work against our freedom. Brookfield applies Foucault’s ideas across a number of staple items in the adult educator’s toolkit: learning journals, learning contracts and discussion groups, and shows how such techniques, which we adopt unquestioningly, can inadvertently reinforce the discriminatory practices we seek to challenge.
The effect of disciplinary power on education resonated with me. Far from the mutuality that pervades the relationship of a voluntary tutor with a 1:1 student or the collaborative learning in small groups, the drive for perpetual assessment and indicative content of courses drives tutors to assign individual projects so that collaborative projects are seen as ‘a plagiaristic diversion of the intellectually weak’. Similarly the discrete tests which make up the awards system serve technological rather than educational ends. That simply is not the way learning happens.
Brookfield’s example of changing seating practices made an impression on me. Despite the unquestioning belief on the part of many adult educators that it has an equalising effect, in fact such actions do not magically do away with power, but rather displace it and reconfigure it. Circular seating can be intimidating, too open and too exposed and thus not necessarily less oppressive.
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