Educational concept - Questfield

Educational concept

Questfield educational concept is based on books inasmuch as we believe that stories touch and enrich our lives in countless ways every day.

Stories help us remember and make sense of our lives and the lives around us. A story is not a diversion, but an identity act; the best stories make our lives more understandable and focused. Stories give children a sense of identity, self and others, structures and nuances their thinking, develops their language and their brain and offers them a more nuanced perspective of reality.

Therefore, all class inquiry at Questfield starts from a book that will take the children on a cross-curricular learning journey.

In the link below, please find: the presentation of our EDUCATIONAL CONCEPT:

This perspective of the language that builds us, framed by the so-called principle of linguistic relativism is based on the theory that language is a construct determined by its historical, social, political, economic, even religious background and the reality that language articulates is, at its turn, determined by all these coordinates. We think within the limits of language, we perceive ourselves and others inasmuch as we can verbalise our perceptions into words, we fathom and project reality inasmuch as our thinking is able to formulate it for us and others. Many linguists, including Noam Chomsky, have argued that language in the sense we ordinarily think of it, in the sense that people in Romania speak Romanian, is a historical or social or political construct, rather than a scientific one.

The principle of linguistic relativism presupposes that the structure of a language determines the way its speakers conceptualize the world, thus influencing their way of thinking and interacting with others as well as the way they internalize experiences.

Language influences the view of self, others and the world, language creates meaning that determines the way people conceptualize notions like Identity or Reality. Education being massively dependent on verbal learning and meaning-making will, by extension, be the fundamental co-creator of our sense of Identity or Reality.

M.A.K. Halliday, the British-born Australian linguist claims that all learning is essentially learning to mean and that language development is inextricably linked to that, children learning at the same time as their language develops. According to him, “human beings are quintessentially creatures who mean (who engage in semiotic processes).”[1] Every symbolic act a human infant engages in from or even before birth equates to an act of meaning-making, of meaning-construction, of communication to those around him/her. According to him, all human learning is essentially semiotic and learning occurs when meaning is constructed within the learner. Once children learn language, they learn the foundation of learning itself – they learn how to keep on learning. “The ontogenesis of language is at the same time the ontogenesis of learning”[2]. As children learn how to mean, they practice a fundamental human act – learning.

When the Language Development Project was launched as a national curriculum project in Australia in 1977, Michael Halliday suggested adopting a threefold perspective – of learning language, learning through language and learning about language.

Learning Language – refers to the various developmental stages of meaning-making that grows more and more complex with time, nuancing thinking and perception.

Learning through Language – refers to the role language plays in the construction of reality: how we use language to build up a picture of the world in which we live, the part played by language in shaping and transmitting the world view of each and every human culture.

Learning about Language – refers to understanding the nature and functions of language itself.[3]

According to Halliday (1985), in any meaningful language event, and we might add, in any meaningful learning instance, learners have the opportunity to learn language, learn about language, and learn through language. As children go about their daily lives, they learn to talk by talking and listening to others, by exploring how language functions, and by using language to get something done, with all three operating simultaneously if events make sense to them.

“Learning language highlights the “doing” – learning by actually engaging in talking, listening, writing, or reading. Learning about language highlights the opportunity to examine language itself and how it operates. Learning through language focuses on using language to learn about the world. These three opportunities are available only within contexts that are meaningful to learners, contexts where they are inquiring into questions significant to their lives.”[4]

One might tend to think that these three principles operate predominantly in Literacy classes (as most schools have focused almost exclusively on them!), but we believe that these three components should not be isolated from teaching any of the subjects of worldwide curricula as they are all part of an essential process of constructing meaning for purposes significant to the learner. Art, music, movement, mathematics, or drama activities are all sign systems that produce, share and invite children to think about and make meaning for themselves and to communicate with others.

[1] M.A.K. Halliday, Towards a Language-Based Theory of Learning, in Linguistics and Education 5, Continuum, New York, 1993, p. 93 (pp. 93-116).

[2] Halliday, idem, p. 93.

[3] M.A.K. Halliday, Three Aspects of Children’s Language Development: Learning Language, Learning through Language, Learning about Language. in J.J. Webster (ed.), The Language of Early Childhood: M.A.K. Halliday, Ch. 14, Continuum, New York, 2004. pp 308-326.

[4] Kathy Short, Exploring Sign Systems Within an Inquiry System in Margaret A. Gallego & Sandra Hollingsworth (ed.), What Counts as Literacy. Challenging the School Standard, Teachers College Press, Columbia University, New York & London, 2000, p. 48.