It has been an interesting two weeks...
8 educators from Jenin, Palestine have been with me (that work on the refugee camp there) and we have visited various preschools, schools, and the teacher training college on a quest to learn more... I have held a full day play workshop and a two day outdoor learning workshop as well... with a BIG focus on imagination and creativity.
The aim has been to give them a new perspective... ideas and inspiration to take back with them and to adjust to fit in with their own context. Of course this time I have spent with them (starting in January with a 3 week visit to the camp, and then April for 2 weeks in the camp) has been an opportunity for me to see education from a new perspective... to appreciate the spaces available for children here in Stockholm, the money invested by the state into preschool and education and the fact that there is not the fear of my home being invaded by soldiers, or the sound of weapons EVERY DAY AND NIGHT that disturb sleep and make learning and concentration even harder.
There are many areas of life that need improvement in Stockholm... there are still far too many prejudices that are limiting far too many people's potential... and also forcing them to live without the feeling of safety and belonging that is the right of all people. There needs to be equality... for all... no matter where we originally come from, or what religion we believe in, what our gender is or what our sexual preferences are etc... we ALL have the right to reach our full potential, we have the right to be respected and to be valued. Sweden is a country that is not under occupation, it is a country not terrorised by nightly outbursts of weapons that wake whole neighbourhoods... we have the chance to really address these issues and create a country of equal opportunities.... and yet during my visits it is quite clear that this is not the case, there is still so much left to do so that ALL preschools in all areas are provided with the resources to give children the best start... and its not just academics but also the social interactions, integration, the feeling of really belonging.
Investing in all the people that work in preschools is essential... making each and everyone feel valued, and giving them all the training, the inspiration and the time to practice in order to give children that best start.. that the scaffolding is meaningful, reflective and joyful.
Adults need time to play. To find joy. To use their imagination and to train that creativity muscle that enables them to better connect with children, enables them to be a more inventive teacher - and also gives them the strength to dare... to try new things, to dare to make mistakes as part of the learning process.
In the coming weeks I will be writing more about this last two weeks together with the educators from Palestine, my role in The Freedom Theatre's preschool teacher training programme... and what I have learned in this journey.