Learning Wisdom

Funding year: 
2 years
University of Waikato
ECE sector
Project start date: 
January 2008
Project end date: 
January 2010
Principal investigator(s): 
Margaret Carr
Research team members: 
Wendy Lee, Educational Leadership Project
Research partners: 
The Early Years Wisdom Group comprising seven facilitators and the teachers in nine early childhood centres

Project Description

This project aimed to explore the ways in which young children could become more wise about their learning journeys, and perhaps the learning journeys of others. In particular, we wanted to explore how—and whether—four-year-olds could develop some understandings about what they were learning and why it might have been valuable. We wondered whether they could articulate these ideas, and we explored the revisiting of episodes of learning as a location for the research. We called this ‘learning wisdom’, building on a growing literature on this topic. Sternberg, Reznitskaya, & Jarvin (2007) had suggested that wisdom in education includes a balancing of short- and long-term goals, and a balancing of intrapersonal, interpersonal and extrapersonal interests. They commented (p. 148):

At some level, we as a society have a choice. What do we want to maximise through our schooling? Is it only knowledge?
s it only intelligence? Or is it knowledge, intelligence and wisdom too? If it is wisdom too, then we can put our students on a much different course.

Maxwell (2007, p. 97) defined wisdom as ‘the capacity to realise what is of value’ while Csikszentmihalyi and Nakamura (2005, p. 231) replied to the question “How does wisdom develop?” by saying that “Two key and dynamically interrelated factors appear to be openness to experience and a capacity to reflect on experience to make sense of it”. We returned to these ideas frequently during the project.

Project Outputs



Carr, M. (2011)Young children reflecting on their learning: teachers’" conversation strategies. Early Years Vol. 31(3) 209-210 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09575146.2011.613805