Children gain information from the work through active exploration. But they are also highly attuned to the things that other people tell them, about all sorts of topics: social customs, object labels, physical phenomena.
They ask questions in order to elicit specific types of information and understand that some people probably have more specified types of knowledge than other people (e.g., doctors are more likely to know about medicine and pilots are more likely to know about airplanes).
But in relying on other people for information, we are also faced with serious epistemological challenges:
1. How do we figure out which people and what information to trust?
2. How do we know when knowledge is justified, and whether someone has come about it in a reliable way?
3. How do our environments (physical and social) shape the kind of information we have access to?
My recent research, under the supervision of Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, has focused more on how young children learn best -- and the ways in which their learning can be extended outside of the classroom into their everyday lives.
We know children learn best when they're actively engaged; when what they're learning is meaningful to them; when they're engaged in social interactions; they have the opportunity to iterate (forming hypotheses, testing them out, building on what they learn); and the activity is joyful.
My work examines these principles in action through the Playful Learning Landscapes initiative. Our work takes these features of children's playful engagement with the world and marries them with a specific learning goal to support the development of the 6 Cs: collaboration, communication, content mastery, critical and creative thinking, and intellectual confidence.