Learning to Listen: A Tribute to Vivian Paley
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This summer the teacher research community and the early childhood world lost a brilliant educator, wise leader and friend. Vivian Paley died at the age of 90. Vivian is best known through her books—White Teacher, Wally's Stories, The Boy Who Would Be A Helicopter, The Girl With the Brown Crayon and more—the majority set in her classroom at the University of Chicago Lab School. The only early childhood educator or classroom teacher to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, her storytelling/story acting technique is used around the world.
Along with her ideas, Vivian as a person—her kindness and tremendous capacity to listen—also made an impact.
We want to honor Vivian’s memory and her contributions to the field with the inclusion of a few essays in our annual Voices compendium. Included here are short pieces by Andrew Stremmel, Todd Erickson, Mary Jane Moran, and myself that note the impact Paley’s ideas have made on their work. A theme that runs throughout these essays is that, along with her ideas, Vivian as a person—her kindness and tremendous capacity to listen—also made an impact. We also include a longer piece by Patsy Cooper which situates Paley’s work in the landscape of teacher research.
We hope these essays lead you to read (or re-read) Paley’s works, all full of deep insights into teaching and learning and grounded in close observation of children, which is at the heart of teacher research.
Ben Mardell, PhD, is a researcher at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. [email protected]