Emergent Curriculum requires a certain level of attentiveness. As educators and students actively craft the learning environment around them, it is up to the teachers to monitor internal and external influences and the effects they have on the educational atmosphere.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy espouses a curriculum guided by the interests of the student body, which means the use of materials and objects in the learning environment is highly dependent on how students view the materials available to them. Sometimes, this can be as literal as placing the materials in a location the students can easily see and access without assistance. Other times, it can mean asking guiding questions to help the students view materials or environments from a new perspective.
Materials can be rotated and exchanged easily enough, and being mindful of when it is appropriate to change these materials can often mean the difference between curriculum that is persisting for the sake of itself and a truly interest guided curriculum. However, materials are not the only aspect of a learning environment that can be adjusted to help students learn.
The environment itself can be changed, shaped, and adjusted to better suit the interests of students as well. While not always as easy as rotating materials, the results can be far more drastic. The introduction of new shelving or storage units, adjusting the location of furniture, incorporating new colors into a decorating scheme, or adding additional student seating are just a few examples that can make a significant difference in a learning environment.
Additionally, changing the environment itself provides educators with an unprecedented opportunity. By inviting students to participate in the reshaping of their learning environment, they can share in the ownership. Shelving constructed with the assistance of students encourages not only small motor tool dexterity, but planning constructive uses for the materials placed on the shelves. While looking at the instructions diagrams, students learn to follow instructions, the importance of sequencing, and practice translating two-dimensional images into a three-dimensional final product.
Constructivist educators striving to provide an engaging and immersive atmosphere for organic learning find a balance between routine and novelty. The classroom isn't a monolith to withstand the test of time. A learning environment is something to be nurtured and crafted over time. Children are impressively dynamic, and the space they learn in should reflect their reality. In this way, materials and all learners coexist in a space conducive to development and growth.