Video online: Shaping curricula through pedagogical innovation: Facilitation of young children’s narratives in the classroom – a free online Childhood & Society seminar, Monday 22nd March 2021

This presentation discusses data produced through the video-observation of workshops in two Primary Schools in London. The workshops were part of an action-research project for a doctoral research and took place in one Year 3 class and one Reception class in each school. The action-research implemented children’s collection and production of photographs related to their own memories and life stories. During workshops, children were invited to share and negotiate their memories in the classroom, starting from the presentation of photographs related to those memories. Children’s narratives were supported by facilitative techniques aimed to promote dialogic interactions. Facilitation enables children and teachers to make significant contributions to learning, supporting children’s thinking in moving forward creatively and independently through different areas of teaching and learning, in particular in oral communication, PSE, Intercultural Education and Citizenship. 

A pivotal phase of any action-research consists in the evaluation of the intervention, in the case of this doctoral research the evaluation concerns the facilitation of children’s active participation in the workshops. Based on the analysis of video-data, this presentation considers an important aspect of facilitation: facilitators’ comment on children’s narratives. Using examples from workshop interactions, the presentation argues that a type of facilitators’ comments, narrative comments, is particularly effective during workshops to support children’s participation and production of narratives. Narrative comments are stories produced by facilitators concerning his or her personal experiences that are somehow connected to the ongoing child’s narratives. Narrative comments aim to create trust, interpersonal connections, and dialogic opportunities. The presentation will argue that personal comments can support facilitation to achieve a form of rights-based pedagogy where children’s voices are promoted and empowered. 

Bio: Angela Scollan is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies and Education Studies at Middlesex University. Previously, she has worked as a Manager and Foundation Degree Coordinator in a Further Education College and as a freelance Early Years Ofsted Inspector. In 2010, Angela opened her own training company, ‘Emerald Early Years and Education’, offering bespoke training and CPD to promote high-quality, sustainable, and reflective early years leadership and provision. Since the early 1990s, Angela has worked directly with and for children positioning her practice within a transdisciplinary approach and as a rights-based advocate. Her teaching philosophy, research and writing focus on the child first whilst touching on an array of themes relevant to education and care: adults-children interactions; rights-based pedagogies, leadership and management, self-determination, reflective practice, critical education studies, environments and partnerships that enable. As an activist against educational disadvantage, Angela has worked with many local authorities to support inclusion and equality in education across England towards enhanced social mobility. Angela has recently undertaken research with an EU-funded project, observing how facilitation and the use of visual materials can encourage the production of shared memories and dialogue in intercultural educational settings.

Video: ‘Worlding’ in Early Childhood Research: An interactive, introductory workshop with Professor Jayne Osgood

We hosted this event 5-6pm GMT, Mon 8th March 2021 (free, online)

What does ‘worlding’ mean in the context of early childhood research?

How does the practice of ‘worlding’ change the way we understand childhood?  

How does ‘worlding’ transform how we do research in early childhood education?

‘Worlding’ is a fundamental practice in posthumanist and feminist new materialist research with young children. It invites us to reconsider the connections between humans and the ‘more than human’. Working with ‘worlding’ shifts our approach to research in early childhood education, shaping differently the questions we ask, the methods we use and what we do with the ‘stuff’ that is encountered and generated through the research process. In this intensive and interactive one hour workshop with Professor Jayne Osgood, you have the opportunity to learn more about ‘worlding’ and its potentials in the landscape of early childhood education research.

Dr Jayne Osgood is Professor of Education (Early Childhood Studies) based at the Centre for Education Research & Scholarship, Middlesex University. Her work is committed to the  pursuit of social justice by critically engaging with early childhood policy, curricular frameworks and pedagogical approaches. Through her research and publications, she seeks to extend understandings of the workforce, families, ‘the child’ and ‘childhood’ in early years contexts.

Seminar Video: Children as Architects of their own Education – An insight into Danilo Dolci’s Ecological Maieutics

We hosted this event 12-12.45pm GMT Monday 8th March 2021 (free, online).

The talk examines the application of Danilo Dolci’s Ecological Maieutics in Children’s Education, focusing on Dolci’s practice between 1975 – the year when his Mirto Experimental Educational Centre opened, and 1997. Notwithstanding all the administrative and financial problems it faced, the Mirto Centre, for children from four to fourteen years of age, became a beacon for progressive education in Italy. The Centre came into being in response to the dire situation of the Italian educational system of the day. According to Dolci, schools suffocated children, repressing all creativity, and he objected that they were not healthy environments but places of coercion and authoritarian rule. One severe drawback that schools had, according to Dolci, was their inability to pose “maieutic” questions, a failure to strengthen the natural questioning instinct, from the earliest infancy, in the widest range of contexts. Dolci’s vision for school is of a healthy environment where children can grow and learn, ultimately becoming the architects of their own lives and futures, making the children themselves responsible for their own education. Dolci’s method was drawn from a number of sources and in that sense was not wholly new but we can regard the clarity and persistence with which the method was applied as innovative in and of itself. It was highly effective in harmoniously combining theories from different educators, notably Maria Montessori and Aldo Capitini in Italy, and Rudolf Steiner and Paulo Freire internationally. This educational approach was intended to be constantly discussed and improved, not only by educators themselves but by the children, the educators and the parents together, focusing on creating a relationship between the experience of the Centre itself and other experiences from the childrens’ own world.

An image of Danilo Dolci – used with the kind permission of Sereno Dolci

Bio: Dr Abele Longo is MA Translation Programme Leader at Middlesex University, London. His main research interests encompass perspectives ranging from ecocriticism to environmental education. His publications include: Danilo Dolci – Environmental Education and Empowerment (Springer 2020); ‘Roma, viandanza dell’esilio. Rafael Alberti tradotto da Vittorio Bodini’ in N. di Nunzio and F. Ragni (Eds.) (2014) “Già troppe volte esuli” Letteratura di frontiera e di esilio, Morlacchi Editore, Perugia; ‘The Cinema of Ciprì and Maresco: Kynicism as a Form of Resistance’, in W. Hope (Ed.) (2010) Italian Film Directors in the New Millennium, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge; ‘Subtitling the Italian South’, in J. Díaz-Cintas (Ed.) (2009), New Trends in Audiovisual Translation, Multilingual Matters, Bristol; ‘Palermo in the Films of Ciprì and Maresco’, in R. Lumley and J. Foot (Eds.) (2004) Italian Cityscapes, Culture and Urban Change in Contemporary Italy, Exeter University Press, Exeter.

Thinking with Freire to develop transformational children’s rights education – video online

Advocates of Children’s Rights Education (CRE) often describe their work as transformational and frequently cite Paulo Freire to argue their case, but they do not always espouse the kind of radical pedagogic practices promoted by Freire. This creates a mismatch between the revolutionary rhetoric of CRE and the rather timid practices that are often promoted. The first part of this paper introduces Freire and identifies some of the aspects of his work that are popular among CRE advocates. The main part of the paper explores Freire’s work in more detail, starting with his views on the relationships between learners and teachers, and then moving on to consider the ideological implications of adopting his work for CRE. The final part of the paper draws on Freire to suggest six complementary ways in which CRE can be genuinely transformational. The purpose of the paper is to introduce people to Freire’s work and demonstrate how it can be used to develop contemporary educational practices. 

Lee Jerome is Associate Professor of Education at Middlesex University. His main areas of interest are children’s rights, citizenship education and the professional development of teachers. In addition to his teaching and research Lee is actively involved in the Association for Citizenship Teaching where he contributes to training, resource writing and edits a magazine for teachers (www.teachingcitizenship.org.uk/journals). This presentation is based on his most recent book project with Hugh Starkey ‘Children’s Rights Education in Diverse Classrooms’ (soon to be published by Bloomsbury). 

Video: From multispecies tangles and Anthropocene muddles: what can lichen teach us about precarity and indeterminacy in early childhood?

Professor Jayne Osgood

This event was hosted 12-12.45pm on Monday 22nd Feb. It was a free online event.

This paper pursues storytelling in the Anthropocene as a method of earthly survival and multispecies flourishing from capitalist ruins. Storytelling emerged from (an accidental method of) walking-with during a global pandemic; the figure of the modern-day flâneuse is mobilised as a feminist praxis to investigate infected, entangled and affective relationalities between the human, non-human and more-than-human as they unfold in the daily tangles to emerge from lock-down life in the city. It is through the art of noticing (Tsing, 2015) and the arts of living on a damage planet (Tsing et al., 2017) that a commitment to engaging with the ordinary, mundane and habitual muddle, that the world is viewed, sensed and encountered through a different set of optics. The stories that are told about lichen, a dead pigeon, and a deadly virus are curated from a specific geopolitical moment where the early childhood workforce, as a highly gendered and classed group of ‘essential’ frontline workers, suffer disproportionately. Storytelling provides a means to attune to life in Anthropocene that emphasises precarity, indeterminacy and hope. It is only by recognising that trans-corporeality demands an ethical response-ability to all life forms (Alaimo, 2016) that we might find a means of earthly survival.

Bio: Dr Jayne Osgood is Professor of Education (Early Years & Gender) based at the Centre for Education Research & Scholarship, Middlesex University. Her present methodologies and research practices are framed by feminist new materialism. Through her work she seeks to maintain a concern with issues of social justice and to critically engage with early childhood policy, curricular frameworks and pedagogical approaches. Through her work she seeks to extend understandings of the workforce, families, ‘the child’ and ‘childhood’ in early years contexts. She has published extensively within the postmodernist paradigm including Special Issues of the journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood (2006, 2016 and 2017) and Narratives from the Nursery: negotiating professional identities in Early Childhood (Routledge, 2012) and currently Feminist Thought in Childhood Research (Bloomsbury Series). She is a member of several editorial boards including Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, British Education Research Journal, and is Co-Editor of Gender & Education Journal and Co-Editor of Reconceptualising Education Research Methodology.

Event: Thinking with Freire to develop transformational children’s rights education, 12-12.45pm Monday 8th Feb 2021, via Zoom

Advocates of Children’s Rights Education (CRE) often describe their work as transformational and frequently cite Paulo Freire to argue their case, but they do not always espouse the kind of radical pedagogic practices promoted by Freire. This creates a mismatch between the revolutionary rhetoric of CRE and the rather timid practices that are often promoted. The first part of this paper introduces Freire and identifies some of the aspects of his work that are popular among CRE advocates. The main part of the paper explores Freire’s work in more detail, starting with his views on the relationships between learners and teachers, and then moving on to consider the ideological implications of adopting his work for CRE. The final part of the paper draws on Freire to suggest six complementary ways in which CRE can be genuinely transformational. The purpose of the paper is to introduce people to Freire’s work and demonstrate how it can be used to develop contemporary educational practices. 

Lee Jerome is Associate Professor of Education at Middlesex University. His main areas of interest are children’s rights, citizenship education and the professional development of teachers. In addition to his teaching and research Lee is actively involved in the Association for Citizenship Teaching where he contributes to training, resource writing and edits a magazine for teachers (www.teachingcitizenship.org.uk/journals). This presentation is based on his most recent book project with Hugh Starkey ‘Children’s Rights Education in Diverse Classrooms’ (soon to be published by Bloomsbury). 

Event: Pheminar Seminar – Enacting an Affirmative Ethics in the Neoliberal University through Peer Reviews, with Katie Strom & Tammy Mills

In this phEminar, we introduce an intervention into practice that explores the refusal of the belittlement and rejection culture of academia, focusing on scholarly publishing, and specifically on peer review. As a production of a creative project that the two of us worked on together, we created an affirmative peer-reviewing practices workshop that presented an alternative vision and tools for conducting affirmative, rigorous peer reviews that, rather than cutting down or serving as a stoppage for potential authors, seeks to provide a supportive experience that produces very different affects. We argue that this workshop, which we’ve since used with reviewers for a special issue and for faculty professional development, serves as an example of an alternative, affirmative vision for academia that can help to build trans-disciplinary connections & solidarity and establish mentorship as a norm of peer-reviewing. As part of the phEminar, participants will engage directly in the workshop and then hold a facilitated audience discussion afterward.

Book the tickets from https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/138647573625

Early Years: Finding Our Voice – – transcript, briefing & video of the event

The Leadership in Early Years Education RIG held an online symposium on Tuesday 19th January 2021. We were fortunate to welcome a fantastic trio of speakers to the event, bringing local, national and international perspectives to the issue of making the early years sector better heard in society and policy.

Our speakers were:

  • Aaron Bradbury Coffey, academic, author and early years campaigner
  • Taneshia Thompson, nursery manager at Brixton Community Nursery, part of LEYF
  • Ellen Dektar, specialist on advocacy work for childcare policy in California

Each speaker gave a ten-minute talk on their professional views and experiences. These talks were followed by breakout room discussion for participants and then an open dialogue among speakers and participants.

We want to make the lively discussion as accessible to as many as possible, and so we’ve published the following outputs:

Early Years Leadership in a Post-Covid World – transcript, briefing & videos of the event

The relaunched Leadership in Early Years Education RIG held an online symposium on Tuesday 10th November 2020. We were fortunate to welcome a fantastic trio of speakers to the event, bringing local, national and international perspectives to the problem of how we move forward as a sector in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Our speakers were:

  • Julian Grenier, headteacher of Sheringham Nursery, working with the DfE on EYFS reforms
  • Sharon Quamie, baby room leader at the New Cross Nursery, part of LEYF
  • Professor Julie Nicholson from Mills College CA, trauma-informed practice specialist

Each speaker gave a ten-minute talk on their professional views and experiences. These talks were followed by breakout room discussion for participants and then the opportunity to pose a few questions to the speakers.

We want to make the lively discussion as accessible to as many as possible, and so we’ve published the following outputs: