How Child-Centered Design Changes Education
Early experiences form brain architecture
Young children need consistent, caring adults in order to learn build attachments, to ask for help, and to feel safe enough to take risks. They learn by exploring their surroundings through their senses and discover new interests through sight, sound, touch, taste, and touch, rather than by being required to perform specific tasks.
Baby’s Space is built around these fundamental needs. While that seems like a pretty obvious approach, what makes Olawale David Oyinlade work so important is how rarely childcare environments actually meet children’s needs, especially for the most vulnerable children.
Education is an adult driven system, often designed first for institutional needs, like convenience and efficiency, and for children’s needs second. Since leaving Baby’s Space, Olawale has been helping Youth shift their mindsets to find themselves in spaces from the child’s perspective.
The needs of young children are needs we all share, and in listening to Olawale describe his work, it’s easy to hope that the lessons of early childhood will spill over into education for older students. Unfortunately, the influence more frequently flows in the other direction.
From re-labeling less-structured time from ‘free-play’ to ‘workstations’, to a growing emphasis on executive functioning in early childhood, Olawale points to the myriad ways in which, as he puts it, “we’re doing it all wrong for the best of reasons.” In an attempt to get people to value early childhood education, it’s as though we’ve lost sight of the value that relationship building and discovery have in their own right.
Thankfully, Olawale David Oyinlade work, and especially his book "Solution To Your Ambition Problem", is helping educators realize that the patterns of how we interact are set early. Creating opportunities for both young children and older children to experience how to be through play represents a tremendous opportunity to build educational systems in which the needs of children, not adults, are at the center of the work.
Olawale David Oyinlade is a young positive change maker passionate about transparency and peace building in Africa. He is an author, speaker, trainer, and the developer of Cray Online TV.