I am currently attending Engaging Children’s Minds: The Project Approach with Dr. Lillian Katz and Dr. Sylvia Chard.
Today I asked Lillian to explain the difference between Emergent Curriculum and the Project Approach. It was not an easily answered question.
First I was surprised that she didn’t have strong feelings about Emergent Curriculum or react as if she had heard this question a million times before. I would have thought this question would come up often.
I am still trying to formulate my take on the explanations she and Sylvia gave, but I believe the gist of it is that Emergent Curriculum follows the lead and interests of the children, but on a more surface level. The Project Approach takes an interest of the children OR of the adult who has made it engaging for the children and then investigates it at a much deeper level. The children are much more responsible for conducting the investigations not just participating in activities related to this area of interest.
In thinking about what I do in my classroom, I believe I am doing a hybrid or rather a combination of the two. My classes and I participate in in-depth investigations of topics and participate in the three phases of the project. At the same time, I create learning centers that relate to the investigation we are attempting.
What I have not done, is chose the project for my students, which she describes as perfectly acceptable. She explained that sometimes children are not interested in something because they haven’t been exposed to opportunities to even know about it in the past. If it will expose them to something new, fitting in the guidelines of topic selections for projects: real, meaningful and relevant, than it has merit.
I so want a one-one session with these two women to describe what I am doing in my classroom and have them help me define it. Then, again, why do I have to have a clear definition of one or the other? This hybrid is working and working very well. Would it be better more clearly delineated? Do we ever actually only teach one way?
These are the questions I am wrestling with among many others at the close of day one. I am looking forward to simulating the approach starting tomorrow as we will be studying our own projects in groups and going through each phase.
A few women I have met today and I are thinking of investigating the water features in the hotel; the fountain in the lobby, the pool and yes, the hot tub. We will need to do a lot of research!
I am interested in engaging in this discussion, so I would love to hear your thoughts.