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November 5, 2021
The ultimate gift we can give the world is to grow our tiny humans into adult humans who are independent thinkers…Our world needs more adults who question and challenge and hold the powerful accountable.
-L.R. Knost
“By now, most of us hear the word STEM and can shout, ‘Science! Technology! Engineering! Math!’, writes Kirsten Haugen in a Wonder section of Exchange magazine that has now been made into an Exchange Reflections called “STEM to STEAM to STREAM.”  She goes on to explain, “Not long after STEM was popularized, we realized we’d left out the arts, so we added an A to give our rallying cry more STEAM. Now, more than ever, I’d like to propose turning that STEAM into a bubbling, flowing, living STREAM by adding perhaps the most important letter of all: R for relationships.

What we introduce into a stream will alter its course…Equally so, our relationships…will impact children one way or another, altering the course of their own journeys. When we prioritize relationships in education, it’s easier for our pedagogies, curricula, materials and assessments to become what they were meant to be—tools rather than priorities…

Kirsten then explains about two stories in Wonder, which are “on the surface, quite different. Octavia Butler, from Nebraska, United States, explores how sharing love for and curiosity about the natural world over time allows that love and curiosity to weave itself into the very fiber of a child’s being, demonstrating that holistic, grounded learning goes beyond knowledge or skills, to impact one’s overall orientation to life. Claire Warden, from Scotland, helps us see that it is indeed possible to take a tree for a walk! More importantly, we learn that when we take children’s wildly creative ideas and queries seriously, amazing things can happen and we can form relationships, not just among children and adults, but even with inanimate objects such as trees.”

This Reflections offers much grist for discussion about ways to ground science learning for young children squarely in the realm of relationships. And Octavia Butler and Claire Warden offer inspiring and practical ideas to try with young children.

Exchange Reflections

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Exchange Reflections are designed to help a team of people meet in-person or live online to think deeply together about a topic using an article from Exchange magazine as a guide. Included are discussion questions to help guide reflections, as well as a Making Commitments idea sheet to help prompt ideas into action. For your convenience, Exchange Reflections are available in PDF format and you can download immediately on your desktop.

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Comments (4)

Displaying All 4 Comments
Tiffany Peckham · November 09, 2021
Lincoln, NE, United States

Thank you all for being able to have respectful conversations here. I love reading your thoughts!

-Tiffany at Exchange

Lois M. Ingellis · November 05, 2021
Empire State College
Castro Valley, CA, United States

I appreciate Francis wholeheartedly, but I don't think the ece field jumps from one to the other but that we incorporate the "good, appropriate, well- developed early childhood curriculum - with appropriate activities and experiences." as Francis points out. We save and renew the best of past from Fröbel, Montessori, Gerber, to Gardner and Gopnik. Children need our thoughtful best and Exchange, ROW, and the teachers who are leaning into this add to the stream of consciousness. The children keep us in the present respecting and responding to them with CARE is the message.

Angel Stoddard · November 05, 2021
Spark Early Education
Eland, WI, United States

I'd like to suggest "STREAM'N" - the N is to include nature. As we are aware, the natural world is vital to children's physical, social, and emotional development. We can challenge ourselves to think of how to include STREAM activities and experiences in nature and with nature.

Francis Wardle · November 05, 2021
Center for the Study of Biracial Children
Denver, Colorado, United States

This article proves what I have always argued about STEM: its nothing new; its a central part of a good, appropriate, well- developed early childhood curriculum - with appropriate activities and experiences. Its rather upsetting how our field jumps from one "fashionable trend" to another. It suggests that we really don't know what we are doing!!!!

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