Thanks for your responses, Maria and Ingr. I know that when I was working with children and when I was teaching ECE students, I felt like I was standing on solid ground. I had learned about child development and curriculum planning and parent education. So solid was that ground in fact, that it might have been difficult for other thoughts about how to view children and families and teaching to break that soil. I know that for the first half of my career, I did not listen as deeply as I should have, or give sufficient thought about how to keep children’s ideas alive and challenged, to bring them together to think and consider each other’s ideas, to connect the children and the community in a substantial way. If we do not cultivate a sense of unrest with the ground we are on, we are apt to stand still. We will not know how different it could be. I wanted the interactions among the children to be pleasant, I wanted the students to work collaboratively and responsibly, but didn’t fully recognize their potential to challenge each other to grow big ideas together. And then in the mid-nineties, I encountered the revolutionary question, “What is your view of the child?”
Malaguzzi writes that there is a wall that can keep us from going beyond what we know, but “beyond the wall there is always a beyond”. Our responsibility as educators is to look beyond “the wall of habit, of custom, of the normal, of the non-surprise, of assumed security”. The more we learn, as Paolo Freire says, to read the world, the wider our sense of it and ourselves becomes. Therein lies joy – in the always more.
So, what kind of relationships do we want to nurture when programs open up again? Some changes will be thrust upon us – understandably given the health crisis we have been in – but we have so much more ability to shape our daily lives with children than we recognize. There can be a temptation to rationalize the status quo rather than to question it and conduct research into our own decisions about how we will be alongside children and families and deepen our connection to the communities where we are located. Are we ready to have the kinds of conversations among our colleagues and with children and families that will contribute to more democratic ways of being, where different perspectives are welcomed? Can we invite colleagues to help us to recognize when we are being pulled back to that solid ground, and nudge us into the generative space of curiosity and uncertainty?