Starting from the Child: Teaching and Learning from 3 To 8

By Julie Fisher | Go to book overview

6
COLLABORATION AND COOPERATION
The importance of talking and
working with others

Introduction

One of the most important elements of an environment appropriate for young learners is the provision of opportunities for children to talk together, and with adults, as they work. There is now a powerful consensus about the centrality of talk to learning, a consensus brought about by the powerful findings of studies of language in the home and at school (significantly the Bristol study 'Language at home and at school' directed by Gordon Wells (1981, 1986), the research studies of Barbara Tizard and Martin Hughes (1984) and the work of the National Oracy Project). Studies such as these confirm that talking things through is an essential method by which we all make sense of our experience. Vygotsky (1962) saw how young children solve practical tasks with the help of their speech as well as their eyes and hands and use language as a way of sorting out their thoughts. At first, language and action are fused together in this way, and that is why young children are often heard talking to themselves when they are engaged in an activity. Eventually, language and action become separated and the activity can be represented in the medium of words (Bruner 1985).

The realization of the impact of language on thought and learning has had two significant influences on classroom practice. The first concerns talk between the children and the teacher:

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