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The Child the True Foundation Conference Introduction

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  1. 1. The Child – The True Foundation Setting the context by Wendy Ellyatt
  2. 2. Why are we all here?
  3. 3. Because we care about the future of childhood
  4. 4. I am mentally preparing myself for the five-year-old mind. I want to come down to their physical limitations and up to their sense of wonder and awe. Shinichi Suzuki And recognise that this period of life sets the tone for all that is to come
  5. 5. <ul><li>This is a time when we establish the foundations of being passionate lifelong learners </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Or that we are somehow lacking and that the process of learning itself threatens our sense of wellbeing </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>A time when we are curious, questing explorers of the environment </li></ul><ul><li>“ When I get an idea I think about it, I hold it on my heart for five minutes, and then I build it and it isn’t an idea any longer.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Reggio Emilia - Francesco, 4) </li></ul>
  8. 8. With incredible inner guides
  9. 9. <ul><li>Each one of us drawn to those activities that most serve our individual development </li></ul>
  10. 10. And where we have no sense of the difference between work and play
  11. 11. “ This is not a free journey, but neither is it a journey with rigid timetables and schedules. Rather, it is akin to a journey guided by a compass” Carla Rinaldi
  12. 12. What matters during this time?
  13. 13. That we see early childhood as an extraordinarily important and distinct developmental phase of its own rather than a preparation for school
  14. 14. That we recognize logic and linguistic capacities as just two of many equally important areas of learning and understanding
  15. 15. That there are many non-written and verbal form of expressive language   The child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages a hundred hands a hundred thoughts a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking Loris Malaguzzi
  16. 16. And that focusing on any one or two compromises an innate natural balance that is almost certainly to the detriment of the others
  17. 17. That we respect the natural rhythms and pace of the child
  18. 18. <ul><li>And allow children the time to develop their own thoughts and ideas </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>That children also need time and quiet spaces to be reflective </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>That we are careful not to impose our own adult needs and expectations </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>And respect the fact that, even if unintended, there are immensely strong links between adult expectations and children’s subsequent aspirations and performance </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Allowing them the freedom to be themselves </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Freedom from expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom from targets </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom from fear </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom to Grow </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom to Unfold </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom to Be </li></ul><ul><li>“ Accept the children with reverence, educate them with love, send them forth in freedom.” Rudolf Steiner </li></ul>
  24. 24. That we celebrate each child’s uniqueness
  25. 25. And ensure that children see failure as simply feedback from an ongoing learning process rather than something to be feared and a measure of their worth
  26. 26. What do we need to ensure?
  27. 27. That observations should be about the interpretation and evaluation of ongoing dynamic PROCESSES rather than static RESULTS  
  28. 28. That we recognize our own cultural conditioning and do not value adult priorities over children’s natural developmental tendencies
  29. 29. <ul><li>That it’s about HOW children learn rather than WHAT they learn </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>That documentation should not focus on comparative assessments </li></ul><ul><li>But should be all about learning processes rather than results </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>That we recognize children as amazing natural learners with their own rights – the source and constructors of their own development </li></ul>
  32. 32. That children don’t belong in isolation but are part of much wider creative COMMUNITIES
  33. 33. That include NATURE
  34. 34. <ul><li>That a deep connection to nature matters </li></ul><ul><li>“ direct exposure to nature is essential for physical and emotional health.” </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Louv </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>And this doesn’t mean just outside playground time </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>That teachers recognise themselves as co-learners sharing the process and that the PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SPIRITUAL MATURITY of teachers matters </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>with EMPATHY AND INTERCONNECTIVITY at this age as important as QUALIFICATIONS </li></ul><ul><li>O ne looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.  The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.  </li></ul><ul><li>Carl Jung </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  38. 38. <ul><li>That politicians come and go, but early childhood is just too important to be at the mercy of changing political systems </li></ul>
  39. 39. <ul><li>And that, despite millions of pounds being spent, we need to recognise that the needs and essential nature of the child remain the same </li></ul><ul><li>‘ To aid life, leaving it free, however, that is the basic task of the educator.” Maria Montessori </li></ul>
  40. 40. “ Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire” William Butler Yeats