At Opal School we have a strong image of children as protagonists of their learning, as collaborators in search of relationships, and as communicators who use a multitude of languages to discover and express what they know, understand, wonder, feel, and imagine. It is because of this strong image that we know children carry the capacity and thrive on chewing on Big Ideas.
Elliot Eisner, Stanford University professor of art and education, reminds us why: "Great ideas have legs. They take you somewhere. With them, you can raise questions that can't be answered. These unanswerable questions should be a source of comfort. They'll ensure you'll always have something to think about. Puzzlements invite the most precious of human abilities to take wing. I speak of imagination, the neglected stepchild of American education."'
In our blog posts for the rest of this school year, we will share the children's journey of Colorland and why we believe that this is such important work. However, before we begin sharing the story of Colorland, we feel it would be important to zoom in on this idea of a Big Idea. What is a Big Idea? What are some characteristics of a Big Idea? What was the Big Idea that inspired Colorland?
What is a Big Idea?
- a concept that is simple, yet profound
- a concrete word that connects to children's experiences
- an action that offers the unexpected
What are some characteristics of a Big Idea?
- it is inspiring and intriguing and has an element of mystery and magic
- it is open ended with many possibilities
- it is inviting and engaging for all protagonists
- it has the potential to bring a group together
This school year, we began the year with the Big Idea of "Connecting to Nature". Every Opal School classroom has approached this big idea differently in response to who the particular children are in each classroom and what is it that has energy for that community.
In the preschool, we began the year thinking about the colors of nature as a way to connect to nature. We thought that color was a natural entry point for the children and was open-ended enough to allow us to listen and pay attention to what about the colors in nature was interesting to this group of children.
But this was just the beginning….
(to be continued in next blog post)