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The state of education is in a maelstrom, and children, educators and families with it.
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 The situation is diagnosed by many – Professor Peter Moss, Sir Ken Robinson and increasingly parents who have withdrawn their children from school.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.
- 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?
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.)
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."
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.
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 ....