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Kathryn Solly Upstart/KEYU March 2019


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Kathryn Solly's presentation from the Upstart/KEYU conference held in Edinburgh on 9th March 2019

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Kathryn Solly Upstart/KEYU March 2019

  1. 1. Grasping the Thistle! Holding onto what matters in Early Childhood Kathryn Solly Specialist Early Years Trainer, Consultant, Speaker and Author. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 1
  2. 2. Who programs your sat nav? • Who has had an impact on the way you think and behave? • What or who influences your practice when in the setting? • What influences have you gained from your own upbringing? KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 2
  3. 3. Time to reclaim our profession? • Do we still believe in a flat earth or that the earth stands still? • Is it right that politicians’ views now dominate Early Childhood? • Is data a fair way of judging practitioner performance? • Should the leader be dismissed as a consequence of a school/setting failing its inspection? • Does a child need the skills to use words in life rather than in tests? • How can we collaborate in a climate of competition? KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 3
  4. 4. What needs to change? • Is achieving excellence for children a continual process or accidental? • Are we providing meaningful and memorable learning journeys? • Are we kites without strings or are we connected to something far bigger than us….. • Do we need to become freedom fighters? • Should we become advocates or activists? KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 4
  5. 5. Theoretical influences on practice • There have been many people who have had an influence on how we plan and provide early years environments today. • Theorists and pioneers have all had a view on how children learn. • Practitioners will use elements of many of these theories and approaches, sometimes without even realising it. • Every child is a unique individual. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 5
  6. 6. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 6
  7. 7. John Comenius 1592 - 1670 • John Comenius – Wrote the first picture book for children called: “Orbis Pictus” (The World of Pictures, 1658). • He advocated that children should be allowed to learn at their own pace through play in nature. • He also stressed the basic concept of ‘learning by doing’ using the senses. • He is most noted for the significant contribution of realising the social reform potential of education. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 7
  8. 8. Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 - 1778 • He is best known for his book ‘Emile’. • Free play is based on his belief in children’s inherent goodness and ability to choose what they need to learn. • Stressed concrete rather than abstract materials for children which is still one of the cornerstones of developmentally appropriate curriculum in early childhood. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 8
  9. 9. Johann Pestalozzi 1746 - 1827 • Believed that good education meant the development of the senses and concepts via nature. • He emphasised the importance of a secure home in developing the ‘whole child.’ • He shared ideas and practices for teachers on equal rights to education for the child. • He wanted education to be of the hand, the head, and the heart of the child. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 9
  10. 10. Robert Owen 1771-1858 • Established the first nursery school in the United Kingdom in 1816 for the children of cotton mill workers at New Lanark in Scotland. • The school was an early attempt to provide group care and education to engineer social change. • He stressed “unceasing kindness, in tone, word and action, to all the children without exception.” • He provided musicians, dancing, artists and wild animals to stimulate interest. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 10
  11. 11. Friedrich Froebel 1782 - 1852 • The ‘father of Kindergarten’ aged 2 - 6. • He believed that play was the highest phase of child development. • He stressed that imaginative play was one of the best ways for children to learn. • His kindergartens included blocks (gifts), pets, and fingerplays and songs. • He believed that women made good teachers. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 11
  12. 12. We live in interesting times… KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 12
  13. 13. Maria Montessori 1870 - 1952 • Designed materials, classrooms, and learning methods for the children. • Proved that the children could achieve through self- help with proper motivation and environments. She believed that young children were capable of – extended periods of concentration; – enjoying repetition in order to practice learning; – revelling in ‘freedom of movement’; – self-motivation and self-discipline; – enjoying silence and harmony. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 13
  14. 14. John Dewey 1859-1952 • Dewey believed childhood was an important part of our lives • He believed that learning should be via discovery and be ‘child-centered.’ • Children should have real-life experiences and learning should be set up so that children were allowed to make choices as they must learn to learn in a democratic society. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 14
  15. 15. Margaret McMillan 1860 - 1931 • With sister Rachel opened a clinic and school for children of the slums of Deptford and Bradford. • Their practice of providing a garden for free play, self-expression, fresh air, sleep, regular wholesome meals and baths proved successful in developing healthy minds and bodies. • Were rooted in political action and led to the establishment of the school medical service and school meals. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 15
  16. 16. Susan Sutherland Isaacs 1885 - 1948 • Her philosophy emphasised the child’s point of view view and the notion of play as the child’s work. • Believed that children could make sense of the world through play and learning through doing rather than through being told. • Wanted children’s inquisitive minds to be free to find things out for themselves. • Saw children’s emotional needs as important. • A firm believer in fantasy and imaginative play. • Understood that children should be active in their play and not restricted to desks or tables. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 16
  17. 17. Child development or readiness? “There are characteristic phases of development as children pass from infancy to maturity. And these phases do call for difference in treatment and methods of teaching. But they are not marked off from each other at their boundaries. There is nothing in human development corresponding to the life of an insect.” Susan Isaacs 1932:20-21. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 17
  18. 18. Times change KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 18 “The children themselves are the living aim and end of our teaching. It is their thought, their knowledge, their character and development which make the purpose of our existence as schools and teachers.” Susan Isaacs (1932:11)
  19. 19. Varied routes “These differences confirm the need for elastic methods in the school, and for individual treatment of children. The appeals which stimulate one child to effort may not be the most fruitful with another.” Susan Isaacs 1932:54 KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 19
  20. 20. Lev Vygotsky 1896-1934 ▪ Believed that play was integral to the development of a child's ability to deal with real problems. ▪ Stressed that knowledge and understanding are constructed through experience alone and with others. ▪ Conversation, play and opportunities to follow interests were central in children’s learning. ▪ Stated that children should be provided with experiences that are slightly above where they were learning so that they could progress in their ZPD. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 20
  21. 21. Finding our way? "Ultimately only life educates, and the deeper that life, the real world, burrows into the school, the more dynamic and the more robust will be the educational process. That the school has been locked away and walled in as if by a tall fence from life itself has been its greatest failing. Education is just as meaningless outside the real world as is fire without oxygen, or as is breathing in a vacuum." Vygotsky, L. (first published in 1926) Educational Psychology KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 21
  22. 22. Reggio Emilia 1945 onwards • Started by mothers against the Fascist regime. • All children are communicators and have potential and are part of a learning community. • The environment is the third teacher. • The adult is a guide, researcher and nurturer. • Documentation is important for communication. • Education is about political discussions and asking questions. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 22
  23. 23. Te Whariki 1996 onwards • Starts where children are now. • Based upon interwoven strands of cultural perspective, provision and community involvement. • Strands are: well-being, belonging, contribution, communication and exploration. • Aims to grow competent and confident learners who are healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and make a contribution to society. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 23
  24. 24. Wise advice “I think that it’s a mistake to take any school approach and assume, like a flower, that you can take it from one soil and put it into another one. That never works. This doesn’t mean at all that [we] can’t learn a tremendous amount from it, but we have to reinvent it. … We have to figure out what are the aspects which are most important to us and what kind of soil we need here to make those aspects thrive.” Howard Gardner, 1997 KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 24
  25. 25. Going round in circles • In 1930 Isaacs describes the children, staff, the school and its equipment and educational aims. • By 1932 she is campaigning about the effects of testing and formal teaching. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 25
  26. 26. A new pathway? • Parental interest in education created a preschool provision: playgroups. • Started Belle Tutaev, a London mother, who in 1961 organized a nursery group for her child in a hall, sharing the tasks of child care with a neighbour. • These spread across the UK. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 26
  27. 27. Today’s context • Very young children who are mostly not of compulsory school age start school well before the term of their 5th birthday. • We start far earlier than many countries and provide a curriculum not based upon long-term research and child development, but the whims of politicians. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 27
  28. 28. Play is not a swear word “The main principles of traditional early childhood education in Britain are child- centred, in contrast to the traditional subject- centred and teacher- directed approaches of secondary education” Bruce, 1987, 81. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 28
  29. 29. Slippery slope? • Are we misinterpreting the principles of Early Childhood? • Should we be testing children at such a young age? • Is learning through play not evident in our practice? • Do we know how to teach in a developmentally appropriate way in P1 and P2? • Should there be a curriculum at all for these children? • Who knows best? KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 29
  30. 30. Children’s needs • Time: develop at their own pace and explore their own interests. • Agency: influence over what they do and some choices. • Belonging: be cared and respected as part of a community. • Competence: feeling successful. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 30
  31. 31. Going against the flow • Some HT/managers impose their ideas on less experienced or less confident staff. • Staff become conditioned to a workplace culture where they are subordinates and children become just data. • SMT are not your boss - develop a mantra to stand up against them. • Use your knowledge of child development and psychology to correct their misinformation. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 31
  32. 32. Together we are stronger! • Rethink the education system. • Unleash possibilities of how we teach/learn. • Create intrinsic motivation for children in meaningful environments. • Create resilient and creative learners for the future. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 32
  33. 33. Who is an activist? • A person who campaigns to bring about positive political or social change. • It is important to go beyond the stereotypes of activism that are often deliberately generated to discredit and marginalise people who protest. • Activism includes the positive and courageous actions of ordinary people in their daily lives. • Activists are not criminals. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 33
  34. 34. Not passive but actively engaged ▪ Learn about the issues ▪ Find a network…. Upstart/KEYU? ▪ Gather local and national support. ▪ Focus upon what needs to happen: • a pedagogy based on actions that directly confront and challenge the current system of injustice; • A pedagogy respecting the expertise of the children themselves, rather than looking for expertise elsewhere, and • the influence of parents, carers and the community. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 34
  35. 35. You are the grain of sand… “The answer is simple. We must try to do the right thing, even if the powers that be are not quite ready to make this easy.” Margaret McMillan (1921) p147 The Nursery School. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 35
  36. 36. Bibliography • Ball, C. (1994). Start right: The importance of early learning London: Royal Society of Arts. • Bruce, T. (1987) Early childhood education London: Hodder and Stoughton • Curtis, A. (1998) A curriculum for the pre-school child. London: Routledge • Cleave, S, & Jowett, S. (1982). And so to school: A study of continuity from pre-school to infant school Windsor: NFER-Nelson • Department of Education and Science (1985)The curriculum from 5 to 16 London: HMSO. • Department of Education and Science (1990) Starting with quality London: DfES • Pound, L. (2005) How Children Learn: From Montessori to Vygotsky. Leamington Spa: Step Forward Publishing. • Macleod-Brudenell, I. & Kay, J. (2008) Advanced Early Years Essex: Heinemann • Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (1999) Early Learning Goals. London: DfES • Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (2000). Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage. London: DfES • Smidt, S. (2002). Early years practice. London: Routledge Falmer. KEYU Edinburgh (2019) 36