A couple of nights ago I spent the evening with a group of women; a potluck dinner, with wine, coffee and conversation around a cozy fireplace. Not an unusual scenario.
But here’s the thing, after we finished dinner we settled down for the real event…..our ECE practice. We talked about the silences in our practice, the topics we don’t know how to address, like racialization among children, or sexuality. We talked of how our discomfort around this is so profound, but how our silence sends it’s own message. We talked of holidays like Halloween and Christmas and wondered if we truly created spaces for parents to share their traditions. The conversation ranged over these and so many more topics for 3 hours, and then half an hour more at the door as we tried to leave.
We have been meeting for five years and we never run out of things to say. We can share the “hard topics” knowing that respect and understanding will prevail. And we have definitely tackled some hard topics.
And you know what has happened over the five years? Our practice has changed. All of us have brought new thinking to our programs, rethought routines, changed the environment, listened to children more, got rid of rules we used to think were important. We have begun doing pedagogical narrations, we’ve read books on post modern theoretical frameworks, and sought out international perspectives. Some of us have written articles, presented at conferences, and pursued further education.
Having this group has been a profound experience for us all. In our profession there is little opportunity for deep conversation; staff meetings usually focus on who will clean the paint pots or who will order construction paper. And rarely does professional development allow for thinking deeply on ideas and issues.
So get out there and get a group. Find some like minded ECEs, choose an article, or a book to get the discussion started and meet. Go to a coffee shop, a house, a child care setting and start talking. Amazing things might happen.
PS If you need a book or article to get you started just ask, I have lots of great ones!