the other children. Clearly, there is no such thing as a “given” child or a “given” context.
And this type of documentation has a strong qualitative value that makes the diaries of
particular interest today. The teachers’ effort to not document the child in isolation but
to also consider the context surrounding the child gives rise to a contextual documenta-
tion, describing the “where” and the “how,” and also hypothesizing the “why.” Russian
psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s and Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget’s writings were at the
time the most relevant readings, but anthropological readings were also pointing more
and more to context definition and to a systemic view of education and pedagogy.
The writing of the diary (a form of documentation) was useful to the educator as
practice in observation while watching the events that occurred and occur daily in the
educational context under a “magnifying glass,” events that would not have acquired
meaning and value if not captured and written in the diary. The educational
approach transpiring from those diaries is far distant from the concept of
laboratory, that is, from an environment in which independent and depen-
dent variables are isolated. The diaries were in this sense ecological, open to
the constant change of conditions and to capturing situations in their richness and com-
plexity. A precious element is the recurrent attention to describing teachers’ subjective
reactions to specific facts or lived experiences: The teacher feels like a part of the con-
text. She is herself context and is an engaged and passionate participant of the context.
The qualities of participant observation and biased narrative are evident, but so is the
generosity of the narrative, rich in the emotions lived in the documentation and educa-
tion. The documentation is in fact a process of “participation,” as the teacher “is part,”
and thus participant, in the process. For this reason, the reflectiveness necessary when
writing and possible when rereading (individually and in groups) is what transforms the
anecdote into knowledge and the knowledge into collective and connecting knowing.
The teacher feels like
a part of the context.
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