The concept of Modern Learning is pervading education circles of late. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to this as I work in Christchurch where school developments have taken centre stage. The reasons behind the drive for more modern school learning environments include new understandings about how learning occurs, what learning is valuable, and the type of learning environments that actively support this learning. These new understandings demand different pedagogical approaches from those upon which traditional schools were established and are identified as the drivers for change toward meeting the requirements of 21st Century learners.
Influences on ECE environments
I have been wondering how all of this discussion impacts on the early childhood sector (ECE) in New Zealand. In light of future-focused thinking and providing for 21st century learners, have we reached a time when we need to move beyond the firmly entrenched historical influences to the way ECE indoor and outdoor environments are presented? Do the drivers for educational change in general have relevance to the early childhood sector? Do we need to relook at the pedagogy that underpins current practice?
Just as I have been wondering about all of this, the Report of the Advisory Group on Early Learning came across my desk. It should be no surprise that one of the recommendations of the report is for Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, to be updated by making its future-focused principles and content more explicit. The context of rapid technological change, implications of global and climate change, and 21st century learning contexts are identified as some of the factors that influenced the development of this recommendation. The report positions “New Zealand’s early childhood centres and schools as well placed to plan for and respond to these changes.” The time has come for the sector to step up and begin progressing the implications of providing for 21st Century learners.