What I'm wondering about

This week we kicked off our new endeavor -pre-school through 8th grade, in several buildings all on one campus. One school, united with a commitment to constructivism and a collaborative approach. Right now it seems like all 10 classes that I will work with need to use the studio between 9-11am. Anyone have a time machine?

a view outside
We started off the year with a presentation  on co-construction and representation by Pam Oken-Wright, former Sabot Parent and R.E./constructivist educator supreme. She shared a lot about the basis of The Reggio approach and constructivism. In her talk, Pam touched on Vygotsky's idea of the Zone of Proximal Development.

(The ZPD is the place between what you can already do and what is way too hard, the place where you can do something new with a bit of scaffolding from someone who is more knowledgeable) 

One of the things she was reminding us of is that when children are in the ZPD, they will feel disequilibrium, and that it doesn't feel very good. Which got me thinking about why some people seem to really hate that feeling of disequilibrium, and avoid it at all costs, but others seem to sort of stay right at the edge of the ZPD and that unpleasant feeling. I wonder if the reward is in the new learning that happens after the feeling goes away, or if there is some kind of chemical response that in some way makes disequilibrium itself worth it.  I know myself that disequilibrium really doesn't feel good, yet I get bored if I am not often on the verge of it.

While I ponder that, I am busy fixing up the new studio. Here are a few pictures...


  1. Comment 1: The concept of the ZPD is fascinating, and interesting to label it as something most children will be uncomfortable with. It helps me have more sympathy and patience for my kids not wanting to stretch and try new things instead of frustrated resignation that they will grow up to be just like me, an adult who doesn't like to try things I don't know I'm good at.

    Comment #2--wow, you have made a lot of progress on the studio since last Saturda when I saw it at campus clean up day!

    Comment #3--It ocurred to me on Campus Clean Up day that surely a constructivist/reggio school could come up with a way to get the 8th graders to paint their own darn cottage and call it a learning experience, no? :)

  2. This very concept is what I'm trying to teach my kids (and myself)as I think you and I have discussed this before without knowing there was an official term ZPD.
    Thanks for sharing and best of luck starting off the new year! Embrace that ZPD and GO!

  3. Oh! You're giving me an aha moment. I've been changing from loathing the ZPD disequilibrium to understanding it more and thereby learning not to hate and avoid it. A friend and I - we're both photographers - have each noticed that sometimes we'll go into a slump where we feel like our work just SUCKS, but then shortly afterward there will be an unfolding of a new skill or a new level of being in touch with some aspect of our work. She likened it to growing pains, and it reminds me of the disequilibrium that children demonstrate when they're about to have a cognitive growth spurt. Because I can now recognize this, the growth spurts are not as hard because I know there will probably be good things coming from it. Perhaps people who are avoidant are bogged down in thinking the uncomfortable feeling is terminal, and people who push themselves to be on the edge have had enough experiences with the ZPD that they know the discomfort is not permanent and that something good can come through it?

    Thanks for giving me more ways of looking at this!


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