By Jill Bella
This past summer I attended a conference session facilitated by Stacie Goffin and several others on the topic of this book. Ten minutes into the session, two women at my table got up and left. When it came time for the participants to discuss some provocative questions about professionalizing the field, it was revealed by their remaining colleague that the two women had left because they were upset when Stacie had made a comment suggesting early childhood education (ECE) was not a professional field of practice. I was baffled. Didn’t they realize that early childhood education does not meet the definition of a professional field of practice? Did they misinterpret Stacie’s message as demeaning their work instead of trying to change the way it is valued for the better? Were they threatened by what professionalizing the field might mean for them personally? While I will never know the exact reason Stacie’s comment caused them to leave, their reaction frightened me. This session was billed as a provocative discussion, and if, as practitioners in our field we are that quick to dismiss or avoid a discussion that challenges our beliefs and attitudes, then our work to advance early childhood education might be even more difficult than I had already imagined.
This is why Chapter 2 in Stacie’s book is so critical. Titled “Thinking Alone,” this chapter provides an important method for demystifying our views about professionalizing the field. It contains a series of questions designed for self-reflection to get to the core of our assumptions, assess our commitment to change, evaluate our open mindedness, and dissect our conversational style so we are not a passenger of our thoughts and previous behaviors but rather a driver, determining what our thoughts and actions will be. Honestly and openly addressing these questions will make us more likely to “stay at the table” when challenged and motivate us to move the conversation to a new space rather than halting it.
I’d like us to use this week in our book group as a place to first surface those often unspoken barriers that we don’t always want to admit, but that shape our actions. Your responses may provide valuable information for future conversations around the country by those invested in re-conceptualizing ECE. Second, I want to use the list generated to dig deeper. My intent for this week is to facilitate a continuing discussion with several parts; giving you time to reflect on your responses and the responses of your fellow book group members, and then taking the conversation further. As a result, you haven’t seen the last of me! This first question allows you the opportunity to be part of the conversation—this book group is a way to explore ideas and voice opinions that will stimulate the thoughts of others. In a sense, this is a step toward Chapter 4, “Supporting Successful Conversations with Intent” and a mark of advocacy. As a practitioner in early childhood education, you have a perspective and an opinion that can help shape the future.
Take a moment to list what might be at stake personally and professionally if early childhood education is restructured as a field of practice. I’ll begin with a few ideas that could have huge implications:
– If qualifications are increased, many practitioners might not meet newly required qualifications
– If qualifications are increased, the field could lose those good practitioners with low formal qualifications
– If practitioners are licensed or certified, the cost may add another burden to an already financially challenged group
What do you think might be at stake if we restructure ECE as a field of practice? I will check in and facilitate more book group discussion as the week continues.
Director, Quality Supports and Assistant Professor
(800) 443-5522, Ext. 5059
*New here? You can find all the book study details HERE. Happy reading!
This book study is sponsored by Redleaf Press