What is the “Third Educator”?

I’ve was reading an interesting article recently by Stephanie Bennett and Lyndsey Hellyn, the co-founders of The Curiosity ApproachTM, where the talked about how educational pioneer Loris Malaguzzi always spoke about the children’s learning environment in terms of the Third Education. In fact he’s quoted as saying “There are three teachers of children: adults, other children and their physical environment.”

As practitioners do we really spend a lot of our time looking at how our rooms look and constantly running around and sweeping up the mess to keep it looking nice? Isn’t that just a sign that the room isn’t working for the children?

In one of my previous settings I always knew it was time for a change round in the layout of the room when it became our main focus of the day to be clearing up after the children. This was when, as a Team we would sit and look at what worked and what didn’t. Children constantly need, fresh, new challenges and the environment is there to scaffold the children into achieving these challenges. So I urge you to spend a bit of time regularly looking at your learning environment and seeing how to freshen up the challenge for your children.

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