Tag Archives: questions

My daughter in a bubble.

The Bubble

My daughter in a bubble.
My daughter in a bubble.

The bubble is wonderful, it’s a place where children are respected, curriculum is built around the children and educators interests and families are welcomed in as equal partners in learning. In the bubble you never see product oriented art, children don’t stand in lines, children aren’t shushed for speaking, expected to sit quietly or told that they can’t go to the bathroom. In this bubble we spend our days being inspired by the children, educators and families we work with. The Bubble.is.a.great.place!

I lived in the bubble for years. I was happy in the bubble.

Then I came out of the bubble. I saw educators doing product oriented art with infants and toddlers. I saw them using the hand over hand method to make sure the googly eyes went in the “right” spot. I saw children sitting in circles, crisscross applesauce, with their mouths closed listening to long winded circle times. I saw classroom spaces where the visual clutter was so overwhelming I wanted to run. I saw young children being described as having behaviour problems because they could not sit still for circle, did not want to do art and told the adults in their lives this very loudly and firmly.  I wanted back in the bubble. I couldn’t go back into the bubble though, if this is what children, families and educators are being subjected to. I wanted to change this! Not wanted, needed to change this.

When I was first confronted with this outside the bubble practice, I realized the best way to affect change was to inspire, not to preach, not to judge but to share. Share ways in which my practice changed, to share the ups and downs of my pedagogy of listening and relationships, my stories of building curriculum around children’s interests, designing spaces that invited children, parents and educators to think together, spaces that created community and spaces of beauty deserving of children and their wonderful ideas.

Living outside the bubble is hard. I can’t log onto Pinterest or Facebook without seeing questionable practice. Things that make me ask “Is this still a thing?” So today  I find that I may need to get up on my soap box and preach.

“If you have to hold a child’s hand and move it for them please do not call the activity you are doing art! Call it what it is a Pinterest fail, a craptivity, a so called parent pleaser.”

               “If you tell a child no when they ask to go to the bathroom, you are contributing to a larger problem. Although it may seem like a small thing. You are essentially telling a child they don’t know their own body and that its okay for someone else to call the shots on its functions. Do you see what I am getting at?”

               ”If you have so much stuff on your walls that you forget what colour your walls are, you may have a problem.”

Look I hate preaching but I am tired. I am tired of seeing children being disrespected and controlled. Compliance isn’t the goal. I am tired of seeing outdated practices being touted as good programming. It’s just not. I did my education twenty years ago and it wasn’t good practice then, it certainly isn’t good practice now. I understand the pressure, trust me I do but instead of giving into it we must advocate for the practice we were educated to deliver.

I am going back to my bubble now. I am tired.

Dead Duck Revisited

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Art credit: Helaina and Adaire Gibb

Last week while presenting in Vancouver on the practice of pedagogical narration I decided in a split second decision that I would present my narration on the dead duck. I told myself it was because I wanted to challenge myself and present something new, a narration I wasn’t comfortable with, that I couldn’t predict or expect the questions or reflections that it would inspire. We had a thoughtful conversation about the narration.

 As I was driving home from the presentation I realized that wasn’t the reason. Truth, I want to talk about death. That moment on the beach with the children has raised so many questions.

 Why are children able to discuss it so openly but adults tend to shy away from the subject?

What age do we stop talking about it? 5, 8, 12…?

 How does one learn to stop talking about it? Are we confronted with the taboo, are conversations rejected, dismissed or are we scolded for talking about it so openly?

 Where did this assumption that children don’t understand death come from?

 I wonder how I can explore death with the children in a meaningful way. (A way that wouldn’t freak out my colleagues or families)

 So I invite you to add your perspective, your layer to my inquiry. What are your thoughts? What questions does the dead duck bring up for you? What stories do you have about death?

Can We Talk?

“Our current educational systems ‘seem stuck in a time warp….displaying an unwillingness or inability to engage with either new thinking or the state we are in–and worse, the state we are heading towards”

Peter Moss,  Michael Fielding

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In her post A Tale of Two Wardrobes Danielle generated great dialogue by linking wardrobe choice and professionalism in the field of ECE. Lots of discussion ensued, people with strong opinions voiced their ideas and were countered by people with equally strong dissenting opinions. There was a lively debate that resulted in no clear answer but got us all thinking.

 This is exactly what we need more of in our field. We need more lively debate, and it needs to go beyond what we wear to work. We need to be discussing big ideas, and big questions about the field of early childhood care and education. We need to debate questions like: What are the values we hold about children and families? What is our idea of learning? What is the meaning of school? What education is for?  Who is responsible for education? Whose voices are heard and whose voices are silenced?

 In a society where test results and predefined outcomes dominate our educational systems, early childhood care settings often become sites for preparation for school readiness. Our role is often reduced to providing programming that will allow children to ‘practice’ for school.

 So rather than educational spaces being sites for adults and children to  explore new thinking and investigate new ideas together, educational spaces become standardized. Instead of being places where independent thinking and experimentation are valued, we have places with preplanned curriculum.

We need to debate and challenge and be challenged.

 We need to talk about this.

Something Pink

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A beautiful spot. Peaceful. Loons glide on the lake, turtles sun themselves on rocks, hundreds of electric blue damsel flies hover over the shoreline. There are maybe 9 people in truck campers and trailers on the entire lake, just a perfect spot.

Off in the distance I spy something that seems not to fit. It is pink. Am I seeing Barbie pink? I look more closely, and yes, there is definitely something Barbie pink over in the distance. I stand and squint and then I know what it is. A child is driving a Barbie pink motorized mini car over the sloping hills. Oh my gosh. Is this how children are connecting with the natural world?

The discordance of the pink mini car in this secluded natural spot is jarring. But who I am I to be judgemental?!  For all I know the child had spent most of the day looking at bugs and rolling in the long grass. And why do I suppose that rolling in the grass is the best way to be with nature?  I know many families enjoy dirt bikes, ATV’s and other motorized vehicles in the outdoors and have strong ethical and spiritual connection to their environment. I cannot suppose there is a ’pure way’ to be outdoors. I cannot suppose that this child’s outdoor experience is somehow inauthentic because I don’t like pink mini cars!

So I reprimand myself. Maybe seeing a Barbie car out there at that secluded lake was a good reminder to me that there are many ways to connect, to be with and enjoy the outdoor environment. That the issues of connecting children with nature are complex and filled with contradictions.

 

But it sure was pink.

You’re Too Young to Paint!

“Ohhh no! Come with me, you’re too young to paint! ” A toddler who has been dabbling his fingers in paint is whisked up and away by a parent and plopped down beside some cars.

Parents, grandparents and caregivers routinely move small children away from paint in this drop-in program. Whether it is paint on the table with brushes, paint on the floor or paint at the easel, all are out of bounds for some toddlers. The facilitator of this program would love to have toddlers paint, and has never imposed restrictions about an  appropriate age to paint. In fact there are photos around the room of children, small and big, with paint on their hands, faces and arms. Mess is acceptable here, there is a sink nearby, smocks are available. So why does there seem to be a ‘rule’ about the ‘right ‘ age to paint?

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 Do we think a toddler is going to go wild? Throw paint at the ceiling? Toss a brush at a bystander? Pour it on someone’s head?

 Do we think that because a toddler isn’t making marks on paper that are representational they are

therefore unable to use paint ‘properly’?

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Does making marks with hands or fingers, or pushing the brush around in circles not count as painting?

What role do clothes play? Has keeping clothing clean become a value of childhood?

 Do we think toddlers are not capable of experimenting with texture, colour, brush, paper?

 Do we think toddlers are too young to make their own choices about what materials they would like to explore?

Are toddlers simply not trustworthy?

 Is there too much unpredictability giving paint to a toddler? Does it mean we will lose control?

 When is the right age to paint? Would we ever tell someone they were too old to paint?

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 What are we afraid of?