Sunday, 7 April 2013

To be one we need first to be two... philosophical thoughts about the very young...

Its taken time for me to feel ready to write this.
My brain has been tired this week, filled to the brim with thoughts, ideas, reflections... from the lecture by Jonna Bornemark as well as the usual reflections - life, work...

This morning as I lay in bed drifting between sleep and awake ideas started to bubble about what words I could write down here about what Jonna talked about... I realised that simply writing my notes from the lecture was not going to make a whole load of sense - so maybe it would be a better idea to write down how I have interpreted her words and reflections...


Our experiences start in the womb - start with the sounds of the heart and the voices from within and without, the warmth, the darkness, the wetness, the taste of being one with the mother...

When we are born it is like an explosion of new experiences, suddenly what was is replaced... but the familiar heart beat is still there when the baby is held close...
A newborn is not separate but is still a part of the mother - it takes time to learn the mechanisms of life and to start to discover them...

A baby becomes aware of their own bodies by looking at their hands touching, sucking and playing with their hands... and feet. They feel how this movement connects with their own movement. An awareness of how touching yourself you feel the sensation of touching and being touched - hen someone else touches you, or you touch someone else, it is just one of these sensations... this is how babies start to learn the difference between you and me... its therefore important for babies to explore their own movements and bodies - to have time for this exploration, as well as time to be touched and to touch others... to have the time to pick up and drop things to learn the difference between an object that will fall out of their hands and their hand that remains a part of them...

Understanding a reflection in a mirror is complex; "I feel my body here - but I see it there..." it requires that the baby "borrows" another's eyes, another's view to be able to understand what the reflection is - that it is "me".

Babies learn to be aware of themselves first when they are aware that they are two! If the baby is not aware of themselves of being a separate entity from their mother then it is FIRST when the bay understands that mother and baby are two that they can be aware of their own oneness.

In Sweden children start preschool first after they have turned one years old, but in settings around the world there are infants in childcare - therefore these words of wisdom can be important reflections for preschool teachers there... that physical contact is essential for the baby to learn their oneness, their own being...

CARE is essential for there to be learning... it reminded me of Jools Page research/work with young children - of PROFESSIONAL LOVE; as well as Janet Lansbury description of REI parenting - that love and physical contact is necessary AS WELL as connecting with your child's need for exploring their own world and developing at their own pace...

As a child gets older learning to "borrow eyes" continues to be important, the need to understand that others see things differently and feel things differently than yourself... An example was given

A child is on the telephone to thank their grandmother for the birthday present they received and is asked what else the got
"One of these" says the child pointing to the new toy, totally unaware that the grandmother is unable to see what she can see

It is typical that children believe that teachers live at the preschool - and the idea that the teachers have lives outside of preschool is an advanced thought for young children...
Quite a few times I have seen the confusion on the faces of children when they have seen me in town - or when they realise I am not just a teacher, but a parent too!!

Even as adults it can be difficult to understand that others have different values from yourself... that when we use words such as "respect" that can mean totally different things depending on the culture and experience of the individuals using the words - this can mean that conversations that everyone is in agreement on can sometimes be one that no-one is in actual agreement as they have all perceived the outcome based on their own values... this is why teachers need to have constant dialogue with each other, to be able to better meet each other with mutual values to work from - and to share this with the parents, so that there is common ground...

Jonna talked about how the child is everywhere, that they "spread themselves out" ie become the soft toy that they are playing with, or the car or the... and it that sense their toys are very much alive.
The importance of playing "peek-a-boo" was raised - the fact the a care-giver can disappear and return. The infant sees mummy there/mummy not there rather than mummy hiding behind a pair of hands... this is a process to learn - you are there even when I do not see you. Important for a child to feel safe - that even when they do not see their parents they are not alone...

Babies mimic their parents, as the parents mimic their babies - there is a communication reflecting each other, there is a kind of oneness and in this oneness becomes and awareness there are two and then the awareness of being an individual.

Play allows children to pretend that chairs are trains or horses - for the chairs to become trains and horses, that children have elasticity - Jonna went on to describe that she holds courses for all sorts of professionals and has noticed that preschool teachers (those who work with young children) tend to have more elasticity in their thinking too.
This elasticity allows an openness for thoughts and reflections - to see the world and explore the world from different angles... this is something we need to support, this creativity.
Preschoolers have many deeply existential experiences but for them to be philosophical they need to reflect upon them, this is when we as teachers and parents can help out - we can help create the time and support the children through open questions to reflect and analyse their experiences and to share them.

the image of a lava lamp popped up several times during the lecture - the idea that we go in and out of each other as caregiver and child, and yet we are separate; we need to bend and flow with each other and respect each other's journey


As adults it is important to see children AS THEY ARE and to to read to deep into it, or too far ahead - to give children the time and space to explore the here and now, to make sense of it, to question it and to deepen their understanding of it.

Well this is how I have interpreted Jonna's words... it will be interesting to hear how others have interpreted it... It will be interesting to hear how you interpret these reflections...

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