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8.5: The Classroom Environment as the Third Teacher

  • Page ID
    98771
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    The environment affects every aspect of how children develop and learn and how teachers teach. In the article Inspired by Reggio Emilia: Emergent Curriculum in Relationship-Driven Learning Environments , Mary Ann Biermeier summarizes Loris Malaguzzi’s concept of the third teacher:

    “…the environment plays a central role in the process of making learning meaningful. So important was this notion, that Malaguzzi defined the environment as the third teacher (Gandini 2011). Malaguzzi’s third teacher is a flexible environment, responsive to the need for teachers and children to create learning together. Fostering creativity through the work of young hands manipulating objects or making art, it is an environment that reflects the values we want to communicate to children. Moreover, the classroom environment can help shape a child’s identity as a powerful player in his or her own life and the lives of others. To foster such an environment, teachers must go deeper than what is merely seen at eye level and develop a deep understanding of the underlying principles and of children’s thinking, questions, and curiosities.” [81]