Both, the process of research and content of research, demand re imagination as this has to be brought into the experiential paradigm. This means experience based research and not reading based research. Reading can be done but after creating an experiential basis to 'understand' the written matter. The researcher is a learner and not a believer of experts however right they may be. This is important because ultimately the processes happening with in the knower are more important than the 'knowledge' they are dealing with.
It is our work with children that brought about this total shift within our understanding and a realization that educational system needs to be re organized if we want to stop creating clones with Phds. The present paradigm of research on children is based on the premise that children need to be taught and we know what to teach and the only missing link is the 'how' to teach. We also assume that we are capable of teaching children. This is what has been going on from the time modern schooling was established. The question we ask set the total journey. The notions, assumptions, methods, etc
From our work with children (3 years to 12years) for three years at Sadhana village school www.sadhanavillageschool.org) we have come to some conclusions that could be of use to people who are truly concerned about the overall development of the child in a natural manner.
We are seeing potential for fresh research to understand the integral nature of the child, integral nature of the content and the way cognitive structures/ process is formed.
The fact is, children want to understand the real world, real contexts of where ever they are located and they are also equipped to understand this within their socio cultural frame work. The real world consists of people, natural and social processes, materials, products etc. It means the children want to know what the world looks like (FORM), feels like (MATERIALITY), what and how they could be in the world (PROCESS/ PHENOMENON). This is the case not only with seeing but other senses also. So the sound of the word is its form- how something is uttered- and the meaning of the word is the hidden element.
Learning is a process that is done by all living beings - like reproduction and digestion- and sustenance of life seems to be its purpose. These are governed by inherited biological rules and the external conditions. Naturally the process and content of learning would also be related to this. This is the primary aspect of learning. The primary cognitive source is the real world as it is and not its explanation. Primary cognitive process is dictated by the biological aspects.
Modern schooling is dealing with secondary cognitive source- language and hence the secondary cognitive tool- reason- gets awakened and developed. Both are in fact good for communication of secondary information, description and is of no use in primary cognition.
Modernity misleads the child in every way by masking the real world from the child. The real world/ natural phenomenon is removed from the experience of the child and is replaced by engineered and miniaturized reality (physical and conceptual) and then the child learns that as the reality of the world. Schools cordon off the world from the child and hence the child is quarantined from true knowledge and creativity. The cyclic, regenerative aspect of life is removed from the experience of modern childhood. They only see the end product and never the process. It is natural then to have more nouns among modern literate people where as the language of non literate have more verbs.
Why to be in the world, How to be in the world and What to do in the world are three fundamental questions that can be used as basic premise in the explorations. Why relates to value- the ethical dimension, how relates to action- the aesthetic dimension (beauty) and what relates to the reality- the cognitive dimension. So all actions are necessarily rooted in value, beauty and truth. Research possibilities based on our observation.