Sightlines Initiative

promoting creative and reflective practice in early childhood education

Diary

This Blog (or Diary) section has a broad mix of articles, reflections, comments, position pieces, as well as requests and information from Network members. It is becoming quite a comprehensive library. You can browse using the categories and search modules to the left.

Do contact us with your suggestions for new articles - and we really appreciate comments and other feedback.
Robin Duckett
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Voices in Reframing Education

The state of education is in a maelstrom, and children, educators and families with it.

There's a pushmi-pullyu situation going on - it isn't new: Mary Jane Drummond sharply outlined this in her article 'Professional Amnesia - a suitable case for treatment' for the primary education magazine Forum in 2004. Pedagogy, provision and structures of education are being led by successive governmental drives and initiatives, which have for decades focussed primarily on concerns for economic growth and global competition. In amongst it all, education is conceived as largely a business of transmitting desired knowledge, and 'preparing for the next stage.' The language of 'achievement' and practices of assessment comes with this territory of 'value-adding.' 'Delivery', 'develop, 'attain', 'targets', 'milestones' are all words which have recent UK - especially English - official descriptors of early childhood (and later) education.
Not only the terminologies, but the organisation, habits and environments are also shaped by this discourse. England has one of the poorest minimal standards for educational environments in Europe – if knowledge transfer is the chief definer of desirable education then smaller spaces are adequate – children need to be uniform, passive, obedient and receptive. Programmes of rote-learning are commercial and are pushed as 'effective' and 'efficient.' The situation is diagnosed by many – Professor Peter Moss, Sir Ken Robinson and increasingly parents who have withdrawn their children from school.
We know that learners are not passive receptors. Children are born lively, curious, dynamic, sociable, expectant, creative – in Professor Colwyn Trevarthen's words 'humans (children) are born seeking relationship.' It follows that the education we construct, with the tools of time, organisation, space, professionalism should support this basic human zest, not constrain from the narrowing external concerns about 'upskilling tomorrow's workforce.' But it is a construct – and the lived reality of schools and early childhood centres is of course very nuanced, with many heads, staff groups, managers, committed to 'getting it right'. But it remains a muddle, and it is draining the natural energies of children, and of educators, and is a worry to many parents.


Let us be bold, open and incisive. There will be politicians who want to be led out of the deep hole that has been dug – we can see that in the examples from Italy, Portugal, Finland, Toronto for example, where educators and parents have articulated and led a vison of education focussed on empathy, sociability and enquiry. It does not begin with 'looking for measurable attainment outcomes'; it begins with amplifying and nurturing the possibilities of relationship and enquiry.This needs owners, managers, heads who will champion the construction of incisive, creative systems in which children can immerse themselves in enquiry. The construction of this relationship-rooted education expects educators to be listeners, researchers, co-constructors and proactive. Internationally speaking, UK early childhood educators are comparatively under-supported, under-qualified and under-paid. But all staff groups are able to become wonderful, researchful teams – we have seen this transformation as staff prioritise the setting as a place of relationships and find the courage and energy to ask good questions:
  • What are ways in which we can resource and support children in enlivening their curiosity, confidence, daringness, absorption, questioning, exhilaration? 
  • What are  ways we can find to bring these children together to discuss, agree and disagree? To engage in significant learning groups, delving into important ideas, experience and construction of knowledge? 
  • What are ways in which we can enable their sociable autonomy and rightful importance as citizens?
Our pre-schools, centres, schools can all be places of delight and research for children, for educators, families, communities. The aspirational journey can have a sound beginning in the fundamental enquiry – 'How do we learn to live well together?' It can't, I'm afraid, begin with drilling, rote-learning, or 'measuring milestones.'
Sightlines Initiative: principles & characteristics for a relational pedagogy
Our pre-schools, centres, schools can all be places of delight and research for children, for educators, families, communities. 
The aspirational journey can have a sound beginning in the fundamental enquiry – 'How do we learn to live well together?'
It can't, I'm afraid, begin with drilling, rote-learning, or 'measuring milestones.'
It can begin by considering more generously the ways in which humans learn, and engage with the world.
This is the aim of our summer series 'Learning to Live Well Together' of six internationally-renowned contributors, which begins on 6th July (we also have a complementary introductory session on the 29th June.)
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Seeking an assistant atelierista - the American School in London

One of the International Schools of our network is looking for an atelierista assistant:

"The American School in London is looking for an assistant atelierista for the Early Childhood section to provide support for our Reggio inspired creative arts program. In the atelier and the classrooms the 2 pre-K classes (Reception) and 3 Kindergarten classes (Year1) are given opportunities to explore the 100 languages through visual art, music, movement and drama. We follow an emergent curriculum based upon a thorough knowledge of the children's individual and group interests and also through listening to and facilitating dialogue, providing provocations, documenting, interpreting and reflecting on their playful inquiry.

A full job description can be found here "

ASL are making a real focus on their professional development at the moment, with all of the team having been to Reggio, and the core early years team participated in our 2018 Skylight programme. It could be a very exciting school to join, at this point!

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ASL Safeguarding :  "The American School in London is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all employees and volunteers to share this commitment. All new appointments will be subject to appropriate checks. Further details upon application."  

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Here are two inspiring things for early years educators in 2018!

Documentation displayed at Madeley

​Thing the First

On Friday 2nd February we are having a Dialogue Day at Madeley Nursery School, Telford. This will be a special day dedicated to explore the various  principles and practice which Sightlines Initiative, the Nursery School, and also Reggio Emilia, have been working on for  20, 17, and 60 years (!) respectively. The day will be for a maximum of 10 educators/heads/managers, who are themselves beginning to explore theses principles in their practice.

Here you can read  more about the day, and book your place - do ring us with any questions.

voices, rumours, opinions ...

Thing the Second

 ... A video by  Reggio Emilia's municipal infant-toddler centres and preschools,  based on children's ideas and thoughts about the squares in the city. 

The schools wanted to investigate children's ideas on the participation and 'life lived' by adults and children in the piazzas of the town and in the schools themselves, as a backdrop to the elections of a big new intake of citizens and friends to the new City Childhood Councils  ....


in the square - people are not strangers anymore ...

Here are the typically lively, sensitive  ...

in a preschool piazza
pigeons talking in the square

 ...surprising and observant views of the children, 





curated and attended to by equally thoughtful and observant adults ....




And presented for us all in this enchanting online video ...

TWOTHOUSANDEIGHTEEN WISHES FOR A WORLD OF PEACE

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