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The Honeycomb Hypothesis
April 25, 2022
A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.
-Winnie The Pooh

By referencing the behavior of honeybees, Sandra Duncan, author of the upcoming book Honeycomb Hypothesis, offers memorable metaphors to richly illustrate how infants and toddlers learn through movement and open-ended exploration, especially in and with nature. In an article of the same name as the book, Duncan explains why “problematic pedagogy” which includes an overemphasis on direct instruction of specific facts or skills can lead teachers astray in planning lessons. “The reality is teachers really do not know what is happening inside children’s brains because we cannot see the schemas forming or taking place. We can only observe their visible actions, or patterns of play.”

Duncan continues, “There needs to be a shift in pedagogical paradigms from focusing on the acquisition of knowledge of basic facts such as shapes, colors, and alphabet, to a pedagogical emphasis on offering children opportunities for developing meaningful understandings.”

Learn more about the Honeycomb Hypothesis in a May 4 Early Childhood Investigations webinar, and sign up to be notified when Duncan’s latest book becomes available. Can't wait? Check out Duncan's earlier book, Bringing the Outside In.





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Comments (3)

Displaying All 3 Comments
Sandra Duncan · May 09, 2022
Nova Southeastern University
Scotts , Michigan , United States


We are forgetting the importance of being little and robbing children of their childhood by emphasizing and focusing on knowledge, which at times is nothing more than rote memorization, rather than concentrating on giving children opportunities and time for uninterrupted play with open-ended materials.

Kirsten Haugen · April 29, 2022
Exchange Press
Eugene, OR, United States


Sally, in my dad's words, I think you've hit the nail on the head by moving from rich observation to thoughtful support of children's play and exploration. I'm trying to remember who said we need to stop thinking about what we're teaching and instead focus on what the children are learning. (Hello, Exchange community, help me out!)

Sally Hartley · April 25, 2022
United States


Absolutely agree with the summary in this article! I really see or have seen that teachers are trying so hard to give knowledge to children that they are interrupting young children's gaining concepts and information through their relationships with the world they should be exploring. It is about a "score" or a "concrete recitation" rather than a deeper understanding. I believe the fault lies in the fact that teachers/staff are not encouraged to really observe and/or do not have enough time to observe what children are doing and exploring, but rather solely concentrate on the outcome rather than the process of play and exploring.



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