Throughout this inquiry journey we were hoping to be able to better align what we believe about teaching young children with our daily teaching practice. One of the areas we wanted to pursue more closely was the concept of the ‘hundred languages’ which had always seemed a bit of an afterthought in the projects we had done in the past. It was used as more of a celebratory or final representation of the project, rather than as a process for learning, theorizing, wondering, investigation, and discovery. Ann Pelo states that “art can become a tool for investigating, asking questions, forming and testing theories, collaborating, and exploring an idea from a range of perspectives – art can grow a culture of inquiry in our programs.” We wondered what that might look like in our classrooms and our context. So, our inquiry question became: How might the use of the hundred languages be used in a co-constructed emergent curriculum? During this past year one of our colleagues, Kerri Hutchinson, was also completing a Masters in Education in Educational Practice and was using this as her Master’s research question. We believe that having both a scholarly and practical lens with the support of the Learning Journey Grant helped establish a culture of teacher inquiry among us too.
Our learning from this inquiry has become deeply embedded in our beliefs and practices. Throughout this inquiry we have continued to learn about our roles as teacher researchers in the classroom. We have also learned how better to integrate interdisciplinary emergent projects that are connected to the core competencies within the curriculum. Furthermore, we have realized that children are often (if not always!) expressing and communicating something through their representations and actions. It is through the re-representation, reflection, and conversations that occur during and after re-representation where a child’s true essence of intent is uncovered. We also learned that all forms of communicating thinking is valuable including more traditional modes of communicating thinking such as writing, as it is all connected under the ‘hundred languages.’ Lastly, we are learning that inquiry and emergent curriculum are more powerful, joyful, and sustaining when connected strongly to the hundred languages.
As we move forward, we recognize that this disposition for teacher inquiry has developed our understanding of our roles as classroom teachers. We hope to continue to inquire ourselves and use ‘the hundred languages’ as a mindset for learning and communicating learning in our classrooms. We continue to be inspired by the words of Malaguzzi when he states, “A child’s world should be a world of possible.” By using an emergent curriculum approach where the hundred languages were largely embedded into our daily investigations, theories, and questions, we discovered a world of possible for both teachers and children.