“Teaching is mostly listening. Learning is mostly talking”

” Teaching is mostly listening. Learning is mostly talking.”

I was introduced to this quote by Alise Shafer Ivey at a conference I recently attended “The changing face of education: Early learning in the 21st Century.”

The two day conference provoked many discussions and reflections on children’s experiences in early childhood education today. The sharing of experiences and thoughts from the conference was a great opportunity for me to reflect on my own practises and experiences at St Luke’s.

At St Luke’s CELC we encourage children to be actively involved in their learning through hands on play based experiences. Small group experiences and open plan learning environments facilitate children’s active involvement in learning. But are we (the teachers) mostly listening (to the children) and are the children mostly talking?

This is a question I am seeking to explore further with my colleagues.

In her presentation, Alise highlighted the importance of nurturing children’s creative thoughts as they build their own theories about the world around them. Children build their theories in learning via their interactions with places, people and materials.


The children are freely exploring the materials in the environment at St Luke’s and are  building their own learning theories, but are we always listening to these? Are we empowering the children to build these theories over time without telling them the answers?

When children are playing they are building their learning theories, we as teachers have a role to listen to children’s ideas and to scaffold their investigative learning. This can be quite the challenge at times not to tell children the correct answers when they are are building theories on the world around them, but yet this is how they learn best, exploring the qualities of materials they are exploring, investigating how they operate.

Creativity in their play supports the development of children’s divergent thinking for the later years in school and post school. Teachers play a vital role to scaffold children’s learning, facilitating children’s creative thoughts to shape their learning theories. In this way, the teacher’s role is to listen while the children explore and investigate, expressing their learning theories along the way.

This leads me to revisit Louis Malaguzzi’s poem “The hundred languages of children” (that I have previously quoted in my blogs). He eloquently describes children’s languages of learning about the world around them and this is expressed in hundreds of ways.

“A hundred ways of thinking, playing and speaking… A hundred ways of listening, of marvelling, of loving, a hundred joys for singing and understanding, a hundred worlds to discover, a hundred worlds to invent, a hundred worlds to dream.”

Through children’s play, we as teachers have a role to listen to children’s ideas. They are building theories in their learning.







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