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The Hundred Languages of Children: Learning and Development Plan Case Study

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Updated: Jul 17th, 2021

Background

The child’s name is Huan; she is ten years old, and she migrated from China with her mother five years ago. Her level of achievement at school is generally good, but her family life interferes with her studies. There are two major contributors to this issue: her father lives in China, and her mother is employed seven days a week. Furthermore, Huan is the only child in the family, so she has no one to communicate with when she stays at home after school. Nevertheless, the girl has managed to make strong connections both at school and at Saturday Chinese school.

The main interests of the girl include music, art, and sport. Huan has great progress in learning classical piano, but her favourite genre is rhythm and blues (R&B). The child frequently composes songs in this genre in her free time. The love for art is reflected in working on portraits with the use of various techniques. The passion for art allowed Huan to find a good friend, Lewis, who enjoys sculpture and construction. Despite the achievements in creative subjects, Huan’s performance in mathematics has dropped considerably. Thinking about art and music frequently distracts the girl from her mathematics classes.

Case Study Analysis

Based on the case study, it is possible to single out two theories with the help of which the child’s development may be evaluated. A deeper understanding of Huan and the effect that educational practices are having on her may be gained through the use of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. The first one presupposes viewing the human’s development through the prism of needs at different levels. The second theory allows analysing Huan’s progress from the point of the environment surrounding her.

Maslow’s Self-Actualisation

Scrutinising Huan’s development through the prism of Maslow’s pyramid of needs allows understanding the girl’s level of psychological development better. According to Weinberg (2011), the “primary sacred duty” of any teacher is not instructing pupils how to read and write but taking care of their psychological health (p. 16). Taking this idea into consideration, the school environment should be the most beneficial for mental development in the first place. Researchers indicate that Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation has the potential to improve the quality of life (Tripathi & Moakumla, 2018). Furthermore, scholars note that love needs are important for individuals, particularly, for children (Oved, 2017). However, while Maslow considered love needs to be a part of psychological needs, a recent study’s author argues that these needs should be classified as basic ones (Oved, 2017). The reason for such an opinion is that love is even more significant than safety in any person’s life. In its turn, safety cannot be gained without the feeling of security that emerges when people realise that they have someone to take care of them and support them.

The case study indicates that Huan’s love needs are satisfied at a satisfactory level since both of her parents dedicate as much time as they can to her. However, the girl lacks her mother’s and father’s attention sometimes, so she compensates for it by communicating with her peers’. What concerns self-actualisation needs, they are reflected in the girl’s achievements in music. Self-actualisation is likely to improve the quality in life since there is a significant connection between Maslow’s hierarchy and the quality of life (Tripathi & Moakumla, 2018). Thus, with the help of playing both classical and R&B music, Huan increases her quality of life. Furthermore, the girl enhances her psychological health since it is reported to develop only when the person’s indispensable centre and core is “vitally recognized, respected, esteemed and valued” both by oneself and others (Tripathi & Moakumla, 2018, p. 499). Researchers also emphasise the role of dreaming in gaining positive self-esteem (Medcalf, Hoffman, & Boatwright, 2013). Therefore, playing the piano and dreaming of increasing her proficiency promote Huan’s self-actualisation and, as a result, enhances the child’s psychological health and covers for the gaps in love needs.

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System

The second approach that might be useful when analysing Huan’s development is Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. According to Bronfenbrenner (1977), a highly important role in the individual’s development belongs to the ability of the organism to accommodate to the changing environments in which one lives and grows. Bronfenbrenner’s approach offers a definition of context as a multidimensional construct (Cross, 2017). According to the theorist, there are five layers of environmental systems that affect developmental processes: micro-, meso, exo-, macro-, and chrono-. In connection with Huan, it is relevant to analyse the micro- and mesosystem in which the girl grows. The first one comprises the child’s family as the key predictor of Huan’s development. According to Rosa and Tudge (2013), the family has the power of influence due to being the context in which development takes place. Additionally, personal characteristics of each family member play an important role. Finally, relationships within the family predetermine the child’s ability to arrange contact with proximal systems, such as school and community. The mesosystem involves the interaction between the child and peers, and between school and parents.

Huan’s development in view of the ecological system may be analysed from two positions. Firstly, the girl’s parents are doing everything they can to promote their daughter’s physiological and psychological development. Although they cannot be physically present in her life all of the time, they arrange family meetings as often as they can. Also, Huan and her mother visit the girl’s father in China once a year to follow the traditional festivities. These connections are rather strong, and they have allowed Huan to grow as an independent individual with clear goals and the determination to pursue them. Secondly, the relationships with peers are rather good, which enables the girl to feel confident at school and in extracurricular activities. From the point of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, Huan’s micro- and mesosystems are sufficiently developed, and there are positive prospects of the girl’s accommodation to the further layers of the system.

The Learning and Development Plan

Developmental Goals

To create a developmental learning plan for Huan, it is necessary to set developmental goals that have to be pursued with its help. These objectives will be associated with the girl’s artistic talents and her communication with parents and peers. Hence, the first developmental goal is strengthening the relationships between the child and her parents through music and art. Also, this purpose presupposes enhancing participants’ collaboration, imagination, and creativity. The second goal is focused on extending the girl’s merit through increasing her self-esteem and letting her gaining self-actualisation.

Learning Experiences (LEs)

LE 1. This LE is a group project aimed at pursuing the first developmental goal. The LE is based on the visual arts curriculum (Visual arts, n.d.). This component is expected to develop curiosity, confidence, and imagination through participation in art making and analysing (Visual arts, n.d.). The environment that will be employed in this LE is the art studio at school. Equipment and art materials needed for the project include paints, markers, clay, paper, cardboard, stickers, glue, and tape.

The theory to which LE 1 is connected is Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. Particularly, the micro- and mesosystems will be involved since the child will collaborate with her mother. Research indicates that parental involvement has the potential to promote the understanding of children’s feelings and dispositions (Forman & Fyfe, 1998). Thus, the LE is expected to arrange a closer connection between Huan and her mother since the parent misses much of her daughter’s development due to having to work long hours every day. The teaching strategy employed in the LE is practising “observational, imaginative and sensory investigations” (Level 4, n.d., para. 18). This will be arranged through encouraging Huan and her mother to understand each other’s favourite things and creating them by using art materials of their choice. Further, they will be able to present the crafts to one another, thus expressing appreciation and affection.

LE 2. The second LE is another group project, but this time, it is based on shared pedagogy of the child and her mother. The environment employed for this LE will be the school art studio. Art materials and equipment will be the same as the LE 1: cardboard, paper, markers, paints, clay, glue, stickers, and tape. The theory with which the LE is associated is the ecological systems one. The LE is focused on the first developmental goal: bolstering the relationships between the child and her parents. The activity is expected to pursue the following curriculum aims:

  • cultivating respect for cultural and industry practices;
  • developing creative and critical thinking;
  • employing aesthetic judgment;
  • enhancing curiosity and imagination through observing, analysing, and assessing art works;
  • promoting inquiry processes (Visual arts, n.d.).

The teaching strategy employed in this LE is the Reggio Emilia approach (REA). This method, which was developed in Italy, views the child as a “capable being” (Bond, 2013). According to the REA, young learners not only have abilities but also possess the right to develop them. The approach to pedagogy that involves shared participation of children and adults is called progettazione (Hall, 2013). Progettazione is a creative process of developing and implementing ideas that reminds of a research project. The REA allows children to engage in an in-depth investigation of phenomenon and things (Katz, 1998). Also, this method views the environment as the third participant of the creative process.

To implement the REA in the project, I will arrange a series of workshops called Our Art. During the sessions, Huan and her mother, as well as other children and parents, will communicate with one another to design a work of art and create it. At the end of the project, all works will be put in an exhibition in the art studio. Each group of parent and child will enjoy their final art work and share it with others.

LE 3. The third LE will involve a music talent program for children. The LE is related to the second developmental goal, which is expanding Huan’s merit through raising her self-esteem. Thus, the theory employed in this LE will be Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The environment necessary for the LE is the music room at school. The materials and equipment will include musical instruments, such as a piano, recording devices, and digital audio software. The teaching strategy that will be used is inquiry-based learning that views learning as a social activity (Scott, 2007). With the help of this approach, a teacher can enhance opportunities for cultural diversification (Hayez, 2013). The curriculum expects that at this age, students can improvise and perform songs to communicate their ideas (Level 4, n.d.). Also, children will be able to explore various rhythm patterns and experiment with them (Content description VCAMUM026, n.d.). Thus, I will encourage Huan to create her own music in the R&B style and share it with others.

Reflective Processes

To evaluate the learners’ progress, I will use the methods of observation and informal assessment. In LE 1 and 2, it will be possible to employ observation to see how children and parents enjoy the activities. Also, I will interview parents briefly to gain a better understanding of their impressions of the exhibition. For LE 3, I will record children’s experiences since this approach will enhance the assessment and analysis (Forman & Fyfe, 1998). Also, students will receive a music assessment report that will cover their achievements according to the Victorian Curriculum, including the abilities to compose, arrange, and perform songs (Level 4, n.d.). Such evaluation options will allow me to understand each child’s progress and plan future activities in the most beneficial way.

In order to evaluate my own effectiveness as a teacher, I will use the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) (2011). Particularly, I will analyse whether the knowledge of content has been expressed effectively. Also, I will assess whether an effective learning and teaching sequence has been arranged in all LEs (APST, 2011). Finally, I will scrutinise the use of curriculum, evaluation, and knowledge in designing lesson plans. By taking these steps, I will be able to evaluate my effectiveness as a teacher at an appropriate level.

References

(2011). Web.

Bond, V. L. (2013). Follow and facilitate: What music educators can learn from the Reggio Emilia approach. General Music Today, 27(1), 24-28.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977). Toward an experimental ecology of human development. American Psychologist, 32(7), 513-531.

(n.d.). Web.

Cross, W. E. (2017). Ecological factors in human development. Child Development, 88(3), 767-769.

Forman, G., & Fyfe, B. (1998). Negotiated learning through design, documentation, and discourse. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini, & G. Forman (Eds.), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach – Advanced reflections (2nd ed.) (pp. 239-260). Greenwich, CT: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Hall, C. (2013). Implementing a Reggio Emilia inspired approach in a mainstream Western Australian context: The impact on early childhood teachers’ professional role. Web.

Hayez, C. C. (2013). Inquiry and cultural responsive teaching in general music. General Music Today, 26(3) 5-6.

Katz, L. G. (1998). What can we learn from Reggio Emilia? C. Edwards, L. Gandini, & G. Forman (Eds.), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach – Advanced reflections (2nd ed.) (pp. 27-45). Greenwich, CT: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

(n.d.). Web.

Medcalf, N. A., Hoffman, T. J., & Boatwright, C. (2013). Children’s dreams viewed through the prism of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Early Child Development and Care, 183(9), 1324-1338.

Oved, O. (2017). Rethinking the place of love needs in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Society, 54(6), 537-538.

Rosa, E. M., & Tudge, J. (2013). Urie Bronfenbrenner’s theory of human development: Its evolution from ecology to bioecology. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 5(4), 243-258.

Scott, S. (2007). Multiple perspectives for inquiry-based music education. The Canadian Music Educator, 49(2), 35-38.

Tripathi, N., & Moakumla. (2018). A valuation of Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization for the enhancement of quality of life. Indian Journal of Health & Wellbeing, 9(3), 499-504.

(n.d.). Web.

Weinberg, D. R. (2011). Montessori, Maslow, and self-actualization. Montessori Life, 23(4), 16-21.

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