What are learning dispositions?

Learning dispositions are lifelong skills and refer to how children engage in learning, and tamariki will carry these skills on to the next stage of their learning journeys. The most important disposition is ‘to go on learning’ (Katz, 1993). Dispositions can be described as habits of mind, and the way a child interprets, edits and responds to different situations in certain ways. Dispositions turn abilities into action and “intelligence performance is not just an exercise of ability – It is more dispositional in nature in that we must activate our abilities and set them into motion (Ritchhart, 2002).

During early consultation for Te Whāriki in 1996, it was agreed that the curriculum should be mana enhancing and empower the child to learn and grow. The five strands of Te whāriki parallel the five learning dispositions which include include:

Courage and curiosity (taking an interest) – Mana Whenua/Belonging

Trust and playfulness (being involved) – Mana Atua/Wellbeing

Perseverance (persisting with difficulty, challenge and uncertainty) – Exploration/Mana Aotūroa

Confidence (expressing a point of view or feeling) – Mana Reo/Communication

Responsibility (taking responsibility) – Mana Tangata/ Contribution

Other learning dispositions include reciprocity, creativity, imagination, resilience, friendliness, intentionality, selfcontrol, relatedness and cooperativeness (MOE, 2017) Te Whāriki, pg 23.

Dispositional learning includes observable behaviour where the child is engaging with change, challenge or uncertainty and also the context between the child and their learning environment. For example, a child may continue to choose ongoing interests where they are comfortable with no change, such as playing with trucks. However you may start noticing a point where they are starting to show curiosity in other areas and you can help them to ‘trust’ (a safe place to be involved and explore). For example, involved in art activities where they can represent one of their favourite interests from home, such as bugs. This would be observable as the child has become curious and then more involved, clearing learning through their dispositions.

Learning about dispositions gives us a deeper insight, perspective, and inspiration for learning stories and how to plan for the tamariki learning & development.

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