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Volume 2 Number 1
©The Author(s) 2000

Introduction

Lilian G. Katz

We are pleased to include a special section of articles devoted to the Project Approach in this issue. The articles address a wide variety of issues related to implementing the Project Approach in diverse settings with children as young as toddlers and as old as second-graders. Several articles remind us of the long history of the inclusion of project work in the curriculum and some of the perennial concerns that continue to be raised during its implementation.

Reaching back to Dewey's original formulation of the philosophy underlying the "project method," as it was widely known in its early days, Glassman and Whaley explore the importance of various goals, especially as they continue to emerge as very young children's work progresses. They also incorporate some of the major concepts learned from the infant and pre-primary schools of Reggio Emilia in their examination of the issues. Their discussion is illuminated by the inclusion of pictures of preschool children's investigations of shadows as well as younger children's emerging interest in a construction site.

Addressing state achievement standards as they apply to second-graders is amply illustrated by the work of two children in Dot Schuler's class as they proceed through the phases of project work in their study of interesting aspects of their hometown. Along similar lines, Helm and Gaye show us how issues of assessment in an educational environment that is increasingly conscious of standards of attainment can be accomplished without undermining children's intellectual engagement in their work.

McAninch, also tracing the underlying ideas of the Project Approach back to Dewey, alerts us to potential pitfalls in its application. Her discussion reminds us to be aware of the importance of how the content and knowledge should be treated in the course of project work, especially with the slightly older learners.

Beneke shares her experience of incorporating project work into the experiences provided to preschoolers whose participation in the class is irregular. Her examination of irregular attendance issues can help allay the fears of many preschool teachers who work under similar part-time attendance arrangements as we appreciate the experiences available to the children at Gingerbread House Nursery School (Princeton, IL), the Malden Early Childhood Special Education Program (Malden, IL), and the Malden Prekindergarten At-Risk Program.