This weekend I started reading the book, “Tools of the Mind: The Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education” by Elena Bodrova And Deborah J. Leong. Lev Vygotsky was a genius Russian psychologist who studied cognitive development despite the difficulty of being a Jew in Russia, and the pressure to conform to the ideas dictated by the Russian government. Because his ideas were buried in communist Russia, it was only in the 70's that we in the west were first able to access and use the theories he developed.
I already knew (and love) the theories of Vygotsky, but it was only by reading this book that I realized the impact that he has had on education. Before we knew what Vygotsky had discovered about the way children learn, classrooms all looked like the one pictured above. Teachers lectured. Students worked independently. This was because during that time period, we believed learning to be an entirely internal process. Then Vygotsky came along, and we discovered that learning happens in a social context, and language is the key to developing mature mental processes.
And that is why my classroom is so noisy. That is why I embrace the sounds of children learning, because learning is not quiet. Research has shown that language is a key element in a child’s learning. There are times when it is important to listen. Children need to learn when and how to attend to information and how to show respect to a speaker. But children also need to be able to have shared experiences with language in order to build their mental processes. Learning cannot happen in silence. Learning needs conversation. So a noisy classroom is a learning classroom!