Impact of Slow Pedagogy

Project author:

Project summary:

This study looks at staffs understanding of Slow Pedagogy and the impact this has on children’s experience within our ELC setting.

Introduction

The aim of this investigation was to enhance my comprehension of my team’s interpretation of Slow Pedagogy and its implications for children’s experiences. We acknowledge that children thrive when given the opportunity to immerse themselves in play, fostering autonomy in their learning journey. However, the question remains: are we providing such an environment?

Context

As a nursery, we are dedicated to continually enhancing our understanding of Froebelian principles and leveraging our Curriculum Champ roles to elevate the skills of our staff, ensuring a consistent team approach. In our Early Learning Centre (ELC), we take pride in our child-centred approach. However, as a staff team, we have recognized the importance of discerning whether our interactions with children are supportive or intrusive.

In my role as a lead within the nursery, with the flexibility of not being tied to a specific area all day, I am able to prioritise the principles of Slow Pedagogy and embrace the present moment. This affords me the opportunity to allocate time for careful observations, allowing children the space to fully engage in their play while emphasizing the significance of their voices.

Drawing upon my understanding of Slow Pedagogy, I integrate dedicated time into my Curriculum Champ responsibilities to enhance staff skills through team meetings and focused group discussions.

When contemplating how to explore my staff’s understanding of Slow Pedagogy within the setting, the initial approach was to compare various practitioners’ practices. However, it became evident that this method wouldn’t provide an accurate representation due to the variety of approaches by practitioners. Consequently, questionnaires and focus groups were utilized to delve deeper into how individual practitioners understood Slow Pedagogy and the impact this has on experiences within the ELC setting.

Initially, in project planning, I envisioned both practitioners and children participating. However, considering the project’s timeline and ethical considerations regarding children’s consent comprehension, I opted for the involvement of only practitioners. Despite the current decision to exclude children as participants, it would be intriguing to gather their perspectives in a future study.

Ethics

As the researcher conducting this inquiry, it was incumbent upon me to uphold ethical standards throughout the research process, ensuring equitable treatment of all participating practitioners. Maintaining ongoing communication with participants was crucial as the project unfolded. Before commencing the research, all practitioners who consented to participate completed adult interview consent forms, providing them with comprehensive information about the project’s purpose and rationale. They were informed of their right to withdraw from the research at any point, with assurances of confidentiality being upheld.

“Slow pedagogy allows us to pause or dwell in spaces for more than a fleeting moment and encourages us to attach and receive meaning from that place”

(Payne & Wattchow, 2009)

Findings

Slow pedagogy allows us to pause or dwell in spaces for more than a fleeting moment and encourages us to attach and receive meaning from that place” (Payne & Wattchow, 2009)

 

My learning throughout this research project can be encapsulated by the above reference. Throughout the project I observed the importance of slow pedagogy and the impact that this on both the experience of the child and practitioner.

My initial experiences at the beginning of the project were of capturing a baseline of how slow pedagogy is understood by practitioners in our setting. It was immediately apparent that there was a contrast in views of what ‘slow pedagogy’ is, how it’s practised and how it influences experiences. I chose to complete both qualitative and quantitative research on staff views to ensure that I had a clear understanding of how this term is understood in our setting and what misconceptions, if any, exist. Staff completed the above-outlined questionnaire and then took part in a focus group where they were prompted to explore an observation where they felt they had applied a slow pedagogical approach. Interestingly, in response to the question “Slow Pedagogy is about the practitioner moving along with the child”, there was a range of answers. This informed me that there was an inconsistent level of understanding of the theory behind slow pedagogy. I chose to anonymously share the survey results with all staff so that there was a collective understanding of the purpose of us exploring slow pedagogy.

After gathering baseline evidence, I moved to the next stage of the project which was encouraging staff to engage with slow pedagogy research. To support this, I created a professional reading library which included texts such as “Interacting or Interfering” by Julie Fisher and “Slow Knowledge and the Unhurried Child” by Alison Clark. Staff were encouraged to access the library and apply the knowledge they have gained to implement a Slow Pedagogical approach into their practice. I set time aside within weekly staff meetings to discuss interactions and how the environment can support a slow pedagogical approach.

These conversations were highly beneficial for all staff however during focus groups participants were then able to expand on some of these conversations. For example, one practitioner commented that they feel when a member of the leadership was in the setting, they felt pressure to be visibly interacting with a child/children. This honest reflection allowed me to consider the practicalities of slow pedagogy in an environment where staff often feel pressure to ‘perform’ in a certain way. Although unexpected, this was a valuable comment as I then approached SLT about the idea of them reassuring staff that they were also deepening their understanding of slow pedagogy. Another question that was raised was the importance of all practitioners being confident in disagreeing with certain aspects of the reading. As the lead practitioner, I now feel I have to consider how I can model critical analysis of professional texts in discussions.

Finally, I asked the staff to repeat the survey after 3 focus groups. As shown below, there was an increase in staff who were confident that their understanding of slow pedagogy had increased and they were applying this more consistently in their practice.

Questions:  

Pre project survey

 

Post project survey
I am aware of slow pedagogy and the rationale behind it. Strongly Agree – 40%

Agree – 10%

Neutral – 50%

Strongly Agree – 90%

Agree – 10%

Neutral – 0%

Slow Pedagogy allows children the freedom to learn at their own pace. Strongly Agree – 40%

Agree – 10%

Neutral – 50%

Strongly Agree – 80%

Agree – 10%

Neutral – 10%

By allowing children time, we can gather quality observations which build a picture of the child as a whole. Strongly Agree – 40%

Agree – 20%

Neutral – 40%

Strongly Agree – 90%

Agree – 10%

Neutral – 0%

Slow pedagogy is about the practitioner moving along with the child. Strongly Agree – 0%

Agree – 10%

Neutral – 90%

Strongly Agree – 70%

Agree – 10%

Neutral – 20%

I use a slow pedagogical approach in my practice. Strongly Agree – 10%

Agree – 10%

Neutral – 70%

Strongly Agree – 70%

Agree – 20%

Neutral – 10%

Conclusion

This project has facilitated a comprehensive understanding within our entire team of the crucial significance of slowing down our approach and embracing Slow Pedagogy. Through this inquiry, we have heightened our awareness of the necessity of allowing children ample time to immerse themselves in play, attributing profound significance to these experiences. As a result, we have cultivated a unified vision among our staff regarding Slow Pedagogy, significantly influencing our current practices.

Children now encounter enriched learning opportunities characterised by quality engagement, as staff apply their newfound knowledge to enhance rather than disrupt their play experiences. Moving forward, this project will undergo continuous development, evaluation, and refinement, with a commitment to working closely with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to deepen their understanding of Slow Pedagogy and ensure a consistently applied approach.

Research implications

To be completed

Practitioner enquiry

To be completed

Leadership learning

To be completed

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

  1. Lauren Campbell
    Lauren Campbell
    22 Mar 2024 at 3:28 pm

    This is a really interesting read. 🙂
    A slowed down approach to immerse yourself into the child’s learning and understanding of the world is so important to understand who they are.


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  2. Claudine Wallace
    Claudine Wallace
    22 Mar 2024 at 4:52 pm

    This was interesting to read as I feel our large busy setting would benefit from this approach. You raise considerations for shared understanding but also potential for disagreement from some aspects.


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  3. Magdalena Mazurek-Figiel
    Magdalena Mazurek-Figiel
    24 Mar 2024 at 11:55 am

    I found this project interesting as slow pedagogy is something relatively new in early years. I believe it takes lots of self reflection to analyse shared practice with open mind and honesty. It was great to see you team’s views significantly changing upon their reading of A.Clarks book.


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  4. Tracy Brown
    Tracy Brown
    25 Mar 2024 at 8:04 am

    I found your project very interesting, slow pedagogy is something our setting has worked hard on, particularly at mealtimes and it has made mealtimes so much richer for children and adults. Great project well done.


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