Hand-gripped Materials

Posted on 2021-12-02 by michael3

I’m reflecting on the experience last night at the Collaborative Dialogue Event (ECPN’s put on). The story of Kozue especially on the little children’s grip of ‘things’ they bring to the day care in her experience. She lists several things they bring, and small stones is one of them. Tonight, I’m thinking, that if I was a child again, and had the choice, I would have brought a small pencil (or like stylo-instrument, be it a crayon, pastel, pen). I have had a fettish for these objects since I can remember, and it is not surprising my desk and art studio are cluttered with these materials (evocative objects–so I decided to scan my gripping the pencil as if that is my child’s hand at a toddler age)- I think of adults or older peers prying against the will of the child in many instances, even my own, where something inside one’s hand is forcibly removed because the child doesn’t want to give it up. That was part of Kozue’s realization of having a “relationship with the stone” which she has shared on a prior blog post here and she shared her written story at the Event last night online.

Now, what takes this all further in my query, is not that I am a ‘collector’ of such stylo-like things and love what they can do in terms of their marking the world, the sidewalk, the blackboard, the whiteboard, the paper, etc. but I have on several occasions made paintings in experimental series where I draw, color, and paint realistically a stylo object, a pencil crayon, a pastel, a felt-tipped child’s marker. In fact in the current show at NIA starting this Sat.-Sun. (for the Nanaimo Artwalk) you’ll see at least two of my paintings where I included such an object. Okay, that’s interesting enough. But what really came out tonight, from the unconscious to conscious, was that “I am a pencil crayon.” Yeah, all those objects truly are “me” and they are what and how I want to be handled in the world–artistically, as I and many of us would handle a pencil crayon (or any stylo objective I’ve mentioned above). Wow! There’s a lot there to mine. But, let’s also not forget the stones, as a theme for this artist residency and Kozue’s story, in hand–and, now in her son’s hand. As she told us last night that her son “took the stone” –her stone. What part of her did he take, and apparently has still hidden, even from his mom?

Hand-Gripping Small Pencil by R. Michael Fisher (c) 2021 – photo from scanner

Imaginary tour with my stone

By Kozue Rathe

On a rainy Saturday morning my colleagues and I gathered at Nanaimo Innovation Academy (NIA) for an event called “strengthening our learning community through art as inquiry”. We started the day with the visit to the rock art exhibition in the NIA parking lot. Our artist in residence, Michael invited us to pick a stone to bring back as we were going back inside. I picked a small white stone with many black dots on it. I chose it for its small size and for the one shiny black spot that I noticed after I picked it up. As we got inside, I kept an eye on the stone while I tried to find a comfortable seating position. Michael who was leading the experience told us to lay down or get comfortable, then close our eyes in preparation for our imaginary tour around NIA and our neighborhood.

I sat with my eyes closed listening to the voice of Michael. The little stone was in my hands. The imaginary walk started at NIA and took us in three directions: to a cliff, a nearby park, and a large rock. We were encouraged to feel the stone and talk to it at times. Whenever we paused for a moment, I asked the stone if it wanted to keep going. The answer was always “Yes” as it was a young stone with many pointy edges. I, on the other hand, am old (not that old) and smooth from going over the bumps of life. Throughout this imaginary tour, the rock stayed in my hand. I sometimes moved it around in my hands feeling the bumpy surface of it, or sometimes it just rested on my hand. By the time I opened my eyes as the imaginary tour came to an end, I had formed a relationship with the stone. It even looked like it had two dotted eyes and a small pointy nose.

While I was going through the tour, I thought of the children who were in my infant and toddler class. They come through the gate to our yard with one or more stones in their small hands tightly gripped almost every morning. There is also a child who comes with a piece of gummy which he never eats. While infants and toddlers often like to have things such as stones, toys, nuts, bugs, flowers, and food in their hands, they do not like to let them go. Although a piece of gummy from the breakfast could be too dirty to be eaten after one hour of outside play, it is still difficult for the child to let it go. I never thought of the fact the tight grip on a cereal, gummy or a rock was a sign of the relationship. The child has formed a relationship with the object in its hand and it makes it hard to open the hand to part with it. It could be because the cereal came from home where the child longs to go back, or the child feels the connection with his family or parents who he loves. A stone at the parking lot might have caught the child’s eye with a noticeable shine. Also, the roughness of the stone may give just the right amount of sensory stimulation on the soft palm.

In any case, any object can form a relationship with a child if a grownup who has not visited any imaginary world for a long time can have a relationship with a stone.

The experience with the stone gave me the opportunity to vision the world of imaginary play of children as well as the relationship between objects and children.

As I wrote this, my 6-year-old son wanted me to read the story I was working on. I read him the first two paragraphs, and he asked me if it was a true story. I said,” yes.” Then he wanted to see the stone I was writing about, because he wanted to see the spots that was shiny. He did not question about the fact that I was talking to the stone or the relationship between the stone and I. I felt as though I was allowed in a special place where it was filled with children and only chosen adults.

Retracing my steps

By Alejandra Gorostiza

The Early Learning Framework (Government of BC, 2019) describes a rhizome as a plant that develops underground and buds in many directions and without a predictable pattern. Inspired by this image, I created this visual map of my learning connections on this wonderful, complex, and unpredictable path to becoming an early childhood educator.

Grateful for so much!

References:

Government of BC. (2019). British Columbia early learning framework. Victoria, BC: Queen’s Printer.

Collaborative Dialogue: A Series of Community Events

By Students in Practicum II, Ocean Kneeland, and Antje Bitterberg

Creating the event: 
The public event ‘Collaborative Dialogue – Learning together and building relationships: A professional development opportunity for early childhood education students, mentors, and curious educators’ is a series of three events imagined and created in collaboration between the VIU ECEC Program and three regional CCRRs: Cowichan, PacificCARE in Nanaimo, and Powell River. When we began to imagine this event, it was important to us to create a space for ongoing dialogue that could hold all of us – students, educators, instructors, and community members in and across our regions. We decided that a series of online events, rather than one, would allow us to nurture a space for dialogue and connections over time. We will share a definition of collaborative dialogue from the Early Learning Framework (Government of BC, 2019), our process for continuing the conversations after the event, and offer some traces of our conversations.

Collaborative Dialogue:
“Collaborative dialogue means inviting comments, questions, and interpretations from children, families, colleagues, and community members to elicit multiple perspectives. This process opens avenues for discussion not to find answers but to explore the different ways of thinking about pedagogy, and to invite reflection on assumptions, values, and unquestioned understandings. Ongoing collaborative dialogue can enrich and deepen perspectives, and can challenge educators to consider new ways of seeing, thinking, and practising.”
(Government of BC, 2019, p. 50)

Revisiting the event with students:
To invite students to reflect on the ‘Collaborative Dialogue’ event, we (Ocean and Antje) visited the students in their practicum seminar a week after the event. We wanted to express our deep gratitude to the four first-year students who shared their pedagogical narrations at the event. We also wanted to acknowledge the students in the audience and their contribution to creating a lively and welcoming space for their peers. In conversation with all the students and their instructor, we learned that many of us embraced uncertainty and an openness to experiment together. Below are two images we created with students to describe what was most meaningful to them.

Students who offered their work at the event shared these reflections:

Students who listened and engaged in the event shared these reflections:

Continuing the Dialogue:
We invite you to share your response to our post or the event by submitting a comment! You might also share your ideas and hopes for future events. What are you curious about and what kinds of professional development opportunities are meaningful to you? 

Reference:

Government of British Columbia. (2019). British Columbia early learning framework (2nd ed.). Victoria: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development, & British Columbia Early Learning Advisory Group.  https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework

Curriculum as Connection Through the Acts of Pedagogical Listening

By Rachel Phillips

This post was originally published on Rachel’s student blog in February 2020.

From the moment I leave my front door, I can hear the sound of the water rushing down, the sound is encompassing, and immediately connects me to its natural surroundings. I cannot recall the last time I was out for a walk on my own. Carving time out to allow for this escape into the woods, just beyond my yard, required my full intent. It’s myself, my dog Katie, and my thoughts on values I embody as an Early Childhood Educator: respect, relationship, connection, curiosity. 

My thoughts are inspired by the pedagogy of listening described by Carlina Rinaldi and foundational to the vision of the Early Learning Framework [ELF] (Government of BC, 2019): “Listening as sensitivity to the patterns that connect, to that which connects us to others; abandoning ourselves to the conviction that our understanding and our own being are but small parts of a broader, integrated knowledge that holds the universe together” (p. 48.). While I’m walking, searching for inspiration, and listening to the many streams, rivers, and sounds of rushing water, I realize that respect, relationship, connection, and curiosity are values that we share as educators that can only be achieved through the act of listening, our abilities to form relationships depend on it. 

The curriculum scholar and author Ted Aoki (2011) has influenced many educators in reconceptualizing curriculum. In Curriculum in a New Key he writes about what listening means for a teacher, suggesting her responsibility to the children: 

“But she knows deeply from her caring for Tom, Andrew, Margaret, Sara and others that they are counting on her as their teacher, that they trust her to do what she must do as their teacher to lead them out into new possibilities, that is, to educate them. She knows that whenever and wherever she can, between her markings and the lesson plannings, she must listen and be attuned to the care that calls from the very living with her own Grade 5 pupils.” (Aoki, 2004/2011, p. 161.)

Early Childhood must have educators who are listening. Children’s trust in us is cultivated through how well we listen. Listening to the child’s hundred languages forms strong connections, and opens new possibilities for learning. When children feel heard, valued, and supported they can connect to their learning through these relationships and meaningful work. Educators need to notice more about the child than what appears obvious, and what might be shared in verbal language. In a culture of research, educators can listen to the hundred languages of children, and (un)intentionally enact what they value by being compassionate and inviting a sense of wonder. 

“Educators are not imposing their ideas on the children, but truly recognizing the children and their efforts. In a way, it is like viewing a child through new eyes. It is challenging to really listen and get to know a child anew and to resist previous ideas of who that child is. Through carefully and intentionally noticing children and what they do, educators have an opportunity to wonder at what they are seeing and hearing.”
(BC Early Learning Framework, 2019, p. 57)

References

Aoki, T. T. (2004, 2011). Curriculum in a new key: The collected works of Ted T. Aoki (W. F. Pinar & R. L. Irwin, Eds.). Lawrence Erlbaum, Routledge.                         

Government of British Columbia. (2019). British Columbia early learning framework (2nd ed.). Victoria: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development, & British Columbia Early Learning Advisory Group. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework

Note to the World

By Amanda Gillmore

Communication has always been a struggle for me- whether it is communication on paper, in an email, a text message or I verbally need to express myself- I always hesitate and/or second guess myself. You wouldn’t think that if you met me! But, it stems from my childhood and is something that I am working on- it’s not an easy task but working with a Counsellor has helped me and given me the tools to work through this barrier.

At first when I saw the requirements for this weeks’ course content, I immediately became uncomfortable. My course instructor asked us to “create a hand-written/ typed/ or video recorded note to a friend/ family member/ colleague/ mentor/ classmate.” <Insert anxiety NOW.> But, after a cup of Earl Grey Tea and reminding myself to consider this ‘a brief note to invite conversation’, I pressed through. I started off by reading the article ‘Your Image of the Child’ by Malaguzzi (1993). And, here is my Note to the World:

Dear Mentor,

I sincerely appreciate how you have guided me so far through my practicum experience and showing me that “the ability to enjoy relationships and work together is very important” (Malaguzzi, 1993, p.2). Over the last few weeks we have had numerous heart to heart conversations about the importance of child-child relationships, child-educator relationships and educator-educator relationships. I recently read an article in one of my ECEC courses called: ‘Your Image of the Child: Where Teaching Begins’ written by Loris Malaguzzi. I would kindly like to share with you a passage that resonated with me:

“When you enter the school in the morning, you carry with you pieces of your life — your happiness, your sadness, your hopes, your pleasures, the stresses from your life. You never come in an isolated way; you always come with pieces of the world attached to you. So the meetings that we have are always contaminated with the experiences that we bring with us.” (Malaguzzi, 1993, p.2)

Each morning I invite you and the other educators to enter a safe heart space and each ask yourself what pieces of your life are attached to you as you enter the school. This passage I have shared with you has made me more aware and mindful how I want to start each day- whether I will be at my practicum site, starting one of my ECEC online courses or starting my morning rituals at home. I hope sharing this will do the same for you.

Amanda

References

Malaguzzi, L. (1993). Your image of the child: Where teaching begins. Exchange (3).