Monday 4 December 2023

Resuming my space here

 It's been a long time since I last wrote on this blog... I moved to a website to create a space that shared multiple threads of what I am doing... I have spent endless hours curating my website...

Sadly wix has been making changes that has made it ever more expensive and no longer possible for me to reasonably maintain the website as I wish - because previously if you paid you got unlimited amount of images that could be shared... that is now limited and an extra fee is now required for that (despite what I pay already being more expensive than before) - so I have been considering another way to share my information.
The aim was to spend a year thinking about this and setting it up, before the next payment in October 2024.

BUT with the news that Wix, and Israeli company has fired people for supporting a ceasefire in their social media has resulted in me not wanting to use the site at all. A company should not have that kind of power over people's views outside of their work - and definitely not for something that is promoting to stop killing children... which as of date there are now at least 10,000 children killed.

Everything I do is about children's rights... their right to play, their right to express themselves, their right to participate - and most absolutely certainly their right to safe places, their right to life, their right to health, their right to a home... it is not just International Law that is being violated, it is also the UN rights of a child that is being violated (and human rights).

I have visited both Palestine (West Bank, not Gaza) and Israel and have good friends in both places... and feel so much empathy and sorrow that Israeli leaders have had a 75plus year policy of apartheid that places both Israeli and Palestinians in unsafe positions... because occupied people do not thrive when they are not treated or valued as equals and are being systematically belittled, oppressed and violently acted upon - resulting in freedom fighters using ever more violent ways to be heard and seen by the international community to help them address the situation. This puts Israeli citizens at risk.
There is SO MUCH propaganda that supports Israel's systematic treatment of Palestinians - both in Israel and Palestine. And it is important that every person does their own work to find out what is really happening and that the apartheid state is real.... I have seen it with my own eyes by being in both places, meeting the locals, listening to them.
I have heard hate from Israeli's and some US Jews (some threatening me for taking a pro-liberation of Palestine stance - which IS NOT the same as a Palestine only state, only the end of apartheid to be able to live as equals) - I have never personally heard an hate towards Israeli's or Jewish people by the Palestinians I met and interacted with. Of course there are going to be some Palestinians that express hate - just as there are Israeli and Jewish people that are against apartheid and Palestinians right to equity and a stop to settlers stealing Palestinian lands - which is against the original agreements and is further exacerbating the situation.

I am against all forms of violence... so to ask me "what about October 7th" suggests that you are deliberately not wanting to understand what I am trying to communicate and deflecting the focus off the 2 months of attacks and 20,000 children, women and men killed (apparently 1,000 Hamas - which I think 19,000 "collateral damage" is extreme and to me is beyond justification - as is 60% of Gazan buildings being destroyed, the displacement of millions, the thousands upon thousands of injuries and next to no medical services (I read today 40,000 injured people are seeking care at a facility that can care for a maximum of 400). I can't understand how world leaders can stand by and allow Israel to cut off water, electricity, food and fuel for 2 months despite knowing this is a war crime - despite being outraged at Russia for doing similar things on a MUCH lesser scale in Ukraine.

I can't understand why world leaders are not doing more to make it stop and to find better ways to create a safer Israel that doesn't involve the mas murder and maiming of civilians.

My work is about the children.
always about the children.

And I cannot accept the fact that Israel is being allowed to destroy the lives of a million children... those killed, those maimed (so many amputations) and all those children who will survive with life long trauma.

And in the West Bank children are being killed, taken "prisoner" (it's called prisoner, but they are not formally charged just detained for extended periods of time, often harmed, threatened and tortured and not allowed to see or contact family - so basically held hostage) roads, water, electricity and homes are being bulldozed - there is NO HAMAS THERE... it's just intensified daily abuse.
When I was staying in Jenin refugee camp there was the daily sound of guns and sound bombs.... sometimes the rhythmic sound celebrating the release of a "prisoner" - but often the randomness of conflict. Sometimes sound bombs, sometimes real..

Friends had their homes raided in the middle of the night - forced to get out of their beds, children and all, to stand in their living rooms while their home was turned upside down... there is plenty of ex-Israeli soldiers who can confirm that this was not done based on evidence of criminal activity but solely to keep Palestinians in a state of fear and subjugation - homes were chosen randomly. Palestinians simply had to accept that this is their reality.

I have friends that have had their homes taken over by IOF (Israeli Occupation Army - stating what it is... not a IDF - not defence... because most of the actions are about occupation) - they are held hostage for multiple days, only allowed to use their kitchen and bathroom, and no access to phones or computers. The IOF then make holes in the walls of their homes so that they can be used a sniper spots - these are put in place BEFORE the bulldozers come.

I have friends taking films of what is going on, and backing away quickly when a gun is pointed at them... because those filming are getting killed.

But this has been happening for decades upon decades... I visited the first time 10 years ago. And throughout that time, and multiple visits homes have been invaded, children killed and taken prisoner and the squashing the fight for freedom - even those that are simply reporting the truth, or through art, theatre and song - makes no difference if the fight is done non-violently and peacefully - they are arrested and killed - just research how many Palestinian journalists have been killed - not just in the last 2 months, but since 1948 when all of this started.

This is about the children - and their right to grow up as equals. To make choices as to whether they can travel to other lands. To be able to visit the sea whenever they want (because only in Gaza do they have access to the sea - and then only a small part of it... if they take a boat too far out they will be shot). To be able to return to their homes (as many Palestinians live abroad, and are not allowed to visit their home country)

Go find out more.

But also please demand a better solution - a ceasefire - that will allow the rest of the Israeli hostages to be released and a stop to the excessive collateral damage. And also demand that pro-Genocide music, talks, actions (that are circulating throughout social media) are being held accountable.

I write for PEACE. for Israelis and Palestinians through equity and an end to apartheid.

Sunday 23 December 2018

New website...

This is the very last post I will be writing here on Blogger...
I have a new website now and will be sharing all my new posts there
I will also be moving over posts from this blog to my website... and as I do I will be editing the posts and new reflections will be added... as I find in the 6 years that I have been blogging I have learned so much more and evolved in my own reflections... so I feel my posts should reflect that too.

The blogs can be read -

the start page for my website can be found here -

Det finns också information på svenska -

there are other pages to explore on my website too... including workshops and presentations that I hold... this will be a work in process... as I learn more, there is the opportunity to share more.

Thank you to everyone that has been coming to this blog and reading my posts... and for the feedback I have received over the years.

I hope that you will make the move with me to my new website and that we can continue to reflect - so your feedback is always appreciated.

all the best

work with the board of children

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Outdoor Inspiration from I Ur och Skur preschools

In October I visited two I Ur och Skur preschools on Lidingö, just outside Stockholm City.
I Ur och Skur means directly in hour and shower (UR is an old word for clock, or a word outside, or original as urskog means virgin forest (original untouched forest) - it can also be translated as the saying Rain or Shine - as in come rain or shine = no matter what.

The preschools we visited were Stubben and Mulleborg... Mulleborg being the first ever I Ur och Skur preschool.

What I really liked about visiting, aside from the fantastic grounds, the usage of the local nature and the enthusiastic and respectful staff was the fact there was a healthy relationship with the outdoors and indoors. These were not places that MADE the children be outside everyday all day, these were places that made the outdoors an attractive place to be so the children wanted to be there...
there is a huge difference.
The indoor area was used just about every day, and in a way that supported the children's enthusiasm for being outside.
The outside, the connection with nature was the focus but not to an extent that the children had to be outside.
Of course the preschools were successful, the children loved being outside.
The preschools chose to not have large numbers of children... so both preschools had a huge space (especially their outdoor spaces) in relation to the number of children. They also had enough staff to be able to give the attention to detail that nature requires. This allowed them to go in different size groups into the forest to explore without compromising safety. This means it gives children the space and time to engage in risky play without it being dangerous.

This is NOT forest school... this is not about schoolifying nature... this is about supporting the children to have positive relationships with nature, to play and learn naturally there, as they would anywhere else (of course in nature there is more freedom... and it can be forest, a meadow or a lake... not confined to school in a forest..)

Don't get me wrong it is GREAT that schools are getting out into nature and discovering children can learn there... discovering there is more than one way to learn.
But in a way this is something children already know... maybe forest school is more about educating adults into understanding transdisciplinary learning, new perspectives on learning, and the 100 language of learning... not JUST in a classroom with workbooks and "set activities" - a kind of controlled play.
Forest Schools are important in many places because they are that first step for the school system to learn that traditional school is not the ONLY answer.

But what I saw in these preschools was play, learning happening and being supported through play, freedom, social interactions being supported allowing for socially competent children (they have the space to develop at their own space, and not being forced into social situations before they master the skills/confidence due to small indoor spaces).

I also saw staff that believed in what they are doing, and also had a great joy for the outdoors... which sadly is not always the case, even in most Swedish preschools where I have encountered at least one (often more) pedagogues at every preschool I have spent real time at, that have not liked going outside. And this infects the children.
Creating a joyful and good relationship with the outdoors and with nature is essential. On that learning can be built.
If the children are negative or do not feel safe or inspired, then the learning and the play is never going to be as deep or as profound. Or of the kind desired by the Swedish School Authority - "Life Long Learning"

So here are some photos of the outdoor spaces to get you thinking
I fully realise not all of you will be able to create the same thing... lack of space, or policies that restrict. BUT the images can still inspire you to think what you can do in your own context.

The images are in no specific order... and in this post there will be no comments.
Tomorrow I will share some of these photos again, with comments and reflections.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Learning Mosaics

(på svenska efter bilden)

Late yesterday I returned from my adventures in Palestine and Israel...
I have met many people, seen many things, experienced them with all my senses and have been making connections...

Connections between what I have seen and experienced to how I am as an educator and how I strive to be as an educator...

I have seen more ancient mosaics in the last few days than I have in the rest of my entire life... and it has left an impression...

Nona asked me if I was to bring one thing that represented me right now what would it be... after an initial panic and feeling of anxiety... what on earth could represent me right now... I realised that single piece of mosaic would be it... I have a clear image of the cube, mostly clay with a painted surface square.. a tiny part of a whole.
And that is how I feel... I feel like a tiny part of a whole... not in an insignificant way, but as an essential part of a learning mosaic. Like all educators are, and all learners.

I am collecting my pieces... from educators around the world, from books and articles, from research, from art therapists (like the amazing Nona - check out her blog - The Good Enough Studio), from nature, from experiences etc etc... and I am connecting them together to create a bigger picture...

On my instagram account I have been sharing images of the mosaics - and if you take the time to check them out you will see that the pieces can be put together in so many different ways to tell different stories, evoke different feelings and to aesthetically please a diverse audience...
and this is what i like... that in education we need to piece together our learning to create a pedagogy that works for us in our our own context... not copy-paste images, but to take the time to place the pieces to create a whole.

My mosaic will stand the test of time... that is my hope... just like the Roman mosaics I saw... and even got to stand upon (that blew my mind... to walk on such complex beauty, that feet centuries ago have walked upon), but at the same time I want my mosaic to be flexible... I have learned, as an educator, that what works in one place, or with one group of children, will not necessarily work in or with another... I need to be able to re-design my mosaic... to put aside the pieces that are no longer needed and add the ones that are... To document my original design, and why I designed it that way, and to save it just in case it will work another day... I do not have to re-invent every time.

So in the coming weeks the metaphor of the mosaic will be surfacing in my posts as I try to unpack it, and make sense of it, and learn.
The other word that is requiring me to take time to explore is "connections".

Sent igår återvände jag från mina äventyr i Palestina och Israel ...
Jag har träffat många människor, sett många saker, upplevt dem med alla mina sinnen och har sett samband

Samband mellan vad jag har sett och upplevt med hur jag är som pedagog och hur jag strävar efter att vara som pedagog ...

Jag har sett mer gamla mosaik under de senaste dagarna än jag under resten av hela mitt liv ... och det har lämnat ett intryck ...

Nona frågade mig, om jag skulle ta med en sak som representerade mig just nu vad skulle det vara ... efter en första panik och känsla av ångest ... vad i hela friden kunde representera mig just nu...? jag insåg att en enda mosaikdel skulle vara det ... Jag har en tydlig bild av kuben, mestadels lera med en målad yta. En liten del av en helhet.
Och det är så jag känner ... Jag känner mig som en liten del av en helhet ... inte på ett obetydligt sätt, men som en väsentlig del av en lärande mosaik. Som alla pedagoger och alla studenter.

Jag samlar in mina bitar ... från utbildare runt om i världen, från böcker och artiklar, från forskning, från konstterapeuter (som den fantastiska Nona - kolla in hennes blogg - The Good Enough Srudio), från naturen, från erfarenheter/upplevelser etc etc. .. och jag förbinder dem tillsammans för att skapa en större bild ...

På mitt Instagramkonto har jag delat bilder av mosaiken - och om du tar dig tid att kolla ut dem ser du att bitarna kan sättas samman på så många olika sätt att berätta olika historier, framkalla olika känslor och estetiskt tillfredställa en mångsidig publik ...
och det här är precis vad jag tycker om ... att vi i förskolan/skolan måste sammanfoga vår lärande för att skapa en pedagogik som fungerar för oss i vårt eget sammanhang ... inte kopiera-klistra in bilder, men att ta tid att placera bitarna för att skapa en helhet

Min mosaik kommer att stå tidstestet ... det är mitt hopp ... precis som de romerska mosaikerna som jag såg... och till och med fick stå på (det var helt otrolig att jag fick gå på en så komplex skönhet som fötter för århundraden sedan har gått på), men samtidigt vill jag att min mosaik ska vara flexibel ... Jag har, som lärare, lärt mig att det som fungerar på ett ställe eller med en grupp barn, inte nödvändigtvis kommer att fungera i eller med en annan... Jag måste kunna omskapa min mosaik ... för att lägga undan bitarna som inte längre behövs och lägga till de som nu behövs... Att dokumentera min ursprungliga design och varför jag designade den på det sättet,  för att spara det ifall det kommer att fungera igen en dag ... Jag behöver inte uppfinna varje gång.

Så under de närmaste veckorna kommer mosaikens metafor att dyka upp i mina inlägg, eftersom jag försöker packa upp det och förstå det och lära mig.
Det andra ordet som kräver att jag tar tid att utforska är "samband/anslutningar".

Saturday 20 October 2018

Return to West Asia

Next Tuesday I will be returning to West Asia to spend time in Palestine and Israel - meeting educators and holding workshops and presentations while I am there... also some time to do some tourist things, which I have never had time to do previously... so I am really looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful part of the world.

I will of course be sharing my adventures here on my blog, as usual.
This time my daughter will be coming with me, not only to experience West Asia, but also to work on her school project, finding out more about the education system in Palestine and Israel by asking a few of the local teenagers we meet.

For those of you wondering why I am calling it West Asia rather than the middle east, then it is due to the fact the latter has a colonial ring to it rather than describing the geographical location...
if you are interested in finding out more about West Asia as a term and why Middle East is maybe a name we should leave behind in history with British colonialism (and the many atrocities that happened under it) then check out this article about why West Asia... and how middle east does not accurately describe the area.

Below are a few photos from the area...

the refugee camp is the close compact area with the black water containers on the roof - the city of Jenin has been built with more space and bigger roads - the hills beyond are on the other side of the barricade keeping Israelis and Palestinians separated from each other.

Friday 19 October 2018

Visit to Förskolan Tjädern (Preschool Ptarmigan)

This week I visited several preschools together with Niki Buchan and a group of fabulous educators from Great Britain. I almost wrote last week, as I feel I have done so much this week it could not possibly have fitted it all into one week.

Over time I will be sharing some of the images and my reflections of those visits, but as I head to Palestine and Israel next week my focus after this blogpost will be on my preparations for there.

Last Monday afternoon we went to Förskolan Tjädern in Haninge.
Since I had been to the Border Crossing exhibition it was very clear that this exhibition had influenced them. The preschool was spiced with nature and technology working together for the children to explore and play with.

The other main thing that struck me as I walked around the setting was the energy of the staff working there. They seemed happy and eager to share their important work with us... it is always an absolute joy to see educators being proud of their work. And so they should be. The children were all busily engaged in an array of activities.

The photos I share below may look like the preschool was empty, but I was cleverly trying to avoid having children in the frame...

as you can see in just about every room the children had access to natural materials to explore and play with, and in different ways... you felt the hundred languages... not one way to explore nature

furniture was customised to meet the needs of the preschool and to support the play and learning. A small raised surface to build on allows the pieces to remain and the floors still to be cleaned, and at the same time makes it easy for several children to reach and interact on. And for the youngest children I wonderful platform to sit on and build, or crawl over or jump off (if no others are using it to build on) it is a suitable risk for one year olds. No danger, but the wonderful tickle of excitement if jumping off when new at jumping.

the one year olds had plenty of small spaces to climb into... all the rooms had small spaces for the children to hide away in, but it was lovely to see that in the one year old room the spaces were really small... adapting to the smallness of their bodies... creating a cozy space, but also the physical challenge of getting in and out. My own son simply adored to be squashed up in shelves like this... as have many many children I have worked with... including much older preschoolers!

space to explore nature with digital media... microscope egg to see details... using the i-pad to make films and take phtos of the close-ups

the children in the preschool had access to many of the same materials throughout the preschool, regardless of age. The difference was that in the younger years where small parts can present a hazard for some children who are in a very oral phase the small loose parts were put up high on a shelf so that they could be brought down to work with the children when an educator was sat along side to support the process and ensure nothing dangerous happened. One year olds working with toothpicks is a good risk together with a guiding adult.

I also appreciated how windows were being used, with shelves along them, so that natural light lit up the materials. It also created a well lit play-space. Of course here in Sweden we have to maximise that daylight as in winter there are not many hours of it.

the natural light also contributed towards making shadows... this made having a construction area by a window extra dynamic. There is also a lot of up-cycling and recycling materials being used.
Plastic is used too. it is not a taboo if it has a valid play and learning purpose.

getting the children involved in making learning materials.

another construction area... this time for the youngest children and with wheels and movement as a focus
instead of just a flat surface to drive vehicles on blocks had been put underneath to create a variety of heights... small hills for the vehicles... and to strengthen small hands as they drive up them, and wonder as they roll down...

here the youngest children have a small patch of living grass to play around and with

different phenomenas to explore... not just natural, but man-made too

many of the role-play areas had different themes, with natural elements and forest etc being observed mostly. This was the only "traditional" style role-play space and it was in the one year old's space. I liked the idea of creating a space that reminded them of home at a time when they are first transitioning between home and preschool. It makes sense for them to play here and to feel safe... and as they get older then their play gets more daring, as the preschool space is familiar.

a homemade light table to construct on

another version of a home-made light table... this time more like a light-bin, so all sorts of sensory materials can be used in it.

a small world area for play

art studio for the older children with lots of materials easily accessible
art studio for the youngest... less overwhelming with materials. The small parts are, as I mentioned before, kept high on a shelf and brought down to work with the children with guidance... a healthy risk and not a dangerous hazard. Children are given the time to master materials so that when they are older they can have free access to them all.

sensory play

the window sill as a work surface. I have worked with so many children who love to play in the window. My own three children loved to do this at home... and my mother reported that when I was a young child this is where I did most of my playing... on the window sill. Maybe children are like flowers and search out light to grow and evolve?

severla rooms use projectors to inspire.

the absolute joy of dry rustling leaves to play with inside... sounds, smell, touch... and to observe how the leaves with eventually crumble... This room had a board across the doorway so that the leaves did not escape and end up everywhere.

digital and analogue crossing borders...

the simplicity of the younger rooms to allow them to develop relationships with the materials at their own pace

a rich variety of loose-parts to construct with.

a mini-atelier, using the natural light to its fullest
The educators here are in a process, they tell me... this is not the final product of a preschool, but just the start of a journey to understand how to create a preschool for all children... so they all feel included, they all can express their ideas, they feel valued, and learn to value others... the third teacher is their colleague to help them with this journey.