Sunday, 8 February 2015

Learning to listen...

In the last year I have had the great honour to have visited early years settings in Canada, USA, Iceland and Palestine, as well as here in Sweden. I also have the great fortune to collaborate and be inspired by educators around the world... through global #ReggioPLC twitterchats, this blog, the facebook page connected to the blog, through various groups on facebook in both English and Swedish... many ways to learn and be inspired.

What I have found is that we have many different ways of viewing early childhood education - various different approaches, different cultures, different education laws and requirements and different expectations of teachers and children.

Sometimes I find there is a lack of tolerance in some of these groups and pages I follow on facebook... and in the last year I have actually withdrawn myself from some of these groups and pages because of the comments made towards others for having a different approach/opinion.

I think there needs to be more time learning to listen to each other... respecting where we all come from, enquiring as to why we think differently - learning how we can lift each other... because, for sure this is a profession that needs lifting - we should not be sinking each other. Early childhood education is important... it is a part of the foundation of the child... the foundation the child will build his/her education upon, the foundation the child will build his/her whole being upon... we need to get it right... and right is not going to look the same in every place we visit.

Context is SO important.

This means we need to learn to listen.
We need to learn to listen to understand and not to insist what we think is right - by listening we can expand our own thinking either with new ideas or by consolidating what we already believe - or maybe even doing a complete rethink...
We need to listen to the context of others... by understanding the context we can understand how to lift each other, how to inspire, how to share...

I don't believe in telling others that they are doing it wrong... because it just means I have not taken the time to listen to their circumstances. I truly believe that everyone working for/with  children are doing the very best they can. Of course there are those who maybe don't want to be in the early childhood setting... but I don't believe they are working for/with the children they are simply working at the setting - and we need to listen to their story too... why are they there when maybe they should be somewhere else?

Interestingly Erika Kyrk Seger wrote about this recently - Lärande Framtid is the name of her blog, I linked it to my facebook page this weekend as it resonated with me so much (as this post has been brewing for quite some time - and even more so since my visit to Jenin). Erika quoted Kierkegaard - which I want to aswell... but for this post the whole poem, I feel, is useful.


If I want to succeed
to bring a person
towards a specific goal,
I must first find her
where she is
and start from there.
Those who can not, is fooling herself
when she believes that she can help others.

To help someone I must
certainly understand more,
than she does;
but first of all understand
what she understands.
If I can not,
it does not help that I know more.

If I still want to show how much I can,
it’s because I’m vain and conceited
and really wants to be admired by the other
instead of helping him.

All genuine helpfulness begins with humility
in front of the one I want to help
and therefore I have to understand,
this with support
is not wanting to rule
But wishing to serve.

Can I not do this
I can not help anyone.
 The poem tells me about the need to listen. That everyone needs to learn to listen - to listen to understand and not to answer... as the latter is just showing what you can and is not taking the time to know how to help.

This is something that needs to be done with all people - no matter what age - whether classified as child or adult.

Today I shared an quote by Vea Vecchi on my facebookpage...

Yes, it is a way of seeing... but also a way of listening... of learning about where the children are. I took lots of photos and short films in Jenin - most I will never share with others... the photos are all a piece of the puzzle to understand ECE settings there. Photos that will help me learn more about where ECE settings are in Jenin. I listened lots - and I will continue to listen - because it is only if I listen, and if I understand that I can be helpful. AND in the process I will learn more - about diversity, difference, ECE possibilities, culture etc etc. Learning is never a one-way process... whether it is with children or with colleagues (be they in the same setting or through social media).

The ECE settings in Jenin were in a different pedagogical place than the ECE settings I am familiar with here in Sweden... but what was the same was the passion of the teachers to be able to give the best learning environment they could to the children. The same desire to learn more about ECE and to expand their knowledge of young children and teaching and learning opportunities... this is something I encountered not only in Jenin, but also when I was in Rejkjavik, Toronto and Boulder.

So part of my year dedicated to listening is also about being humble... to accept differences and to learn from them. To find similarities and to grow with them. To find the common ground where we stand as equals and to start from there.

You can see some images from Jenin on Filosofiska's facebook page... here you can see me doing a workshop with a group of children in Jenin.

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