By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE.
I am proponent of emergent curriculum. Emergent curriculum emerges from the interests of children. I have a continuing desire to help others move forward to embrace this empowering pedagogy. The question of what I teach (emergent curriculum) has been framed by how I teach it. When I began this journey, I was teaching early childhood education at the college level. At the time, I needed a way to help my students recognize that there are many potential topics to focus on that are not the typical theme-based choices. A theme is usually a broad concept often based on holidays, like Easter or special days like Remembrance Day. I am concerned with themes on so many levels, but mostly because themes run the risk of being little more than a convenient backdrop for classroom decorations and craft displays. When I was teaching, I needed to find an alternative. I went back to my own childhood. What was I interested in as a child? The answer was easy. Rocks, rocks, and more rocks! Sharing rocks with my students was a way of activating their thinking about what interested them as children. It is very interesting to note, that every interest that was shared by my students involved hands-on play and learning!
In my current practice I no longer work with those embarking on their ECE journey. I am now motivated by those further along on their journey. How can I help them move forward with their interests, their musings, their hopes, and their dreams? After much thinking, dreaming, reflecting, and dialoguing with others, I have landed on the concept of critical friendship. The potential of this concept as a motivator for development seemed limitless and I wondered whether it could be more than a blog post? I am beyond excited to share that I have been offered a book contract with Redleaf Press, the source of exceptional resources for early childhood education professionals! I am now considering many questions related to critical friendships particularly; how we can cultivate our own critical friendships as early childhood education professionals? If you have a critical friend, you have a champion who supports you. You have someone who will advocate for your success. All you need is one other person to form a critical friendship. What would happen if you had a group of friends? I have brought together an initial local group of friends to see what might transpire. We have established a Circle of Support (CoS) for ECE! Next, I will broaden the group to include others from Ontario who can join virtually. From there we will build!
Each member of the group will receive an amethyst to keep whether joining in person or through zoom. We will offer a circle of support to each other as we move ahead on our own journeys. We will be there for each other as we work on professional growth. We will be there for each other as critical friends, thinking partners, and sounding boards. Taking turns, we can share current musings and each of us in turn will respond to bolster and encourage. This will be a place for courageous conversations. A safe place to share current thinking that may be impeded by self-esteem issues, a lack of confidence or the often present imposter syndrome. This is not a place for “I am just an ECE” laments! Being scared is okay when you have friends beside you and a rock in hand! Once again, the metaphysical properties of rocks have inspired me. In addition to being the official gemstone of Ontario, amethysts are said to provide inner peace and healing. The amethyst helps with communication, balance, and stress while guiding positive transformation. The amethyst is a powerful and protective stone and an appropriate metaphysical guide for our CoS.
Many cultures throughout the world have been drawn to the magic of this mesmerizing, mystical gem. My culture considers the gem to cause powerful dreams. The Hebrew word for amethyst, “ahlamah”, translates to “dream stone”. I will hold my amethyst while I dream about the possibilities of critical friendships. I cannot do this without a circle of support. Will you take the time to share your perspectives, thoughts, and ideas by commenting below? What do you think about a CoS for ECEs? Is there any advice you can offer as we embark on what hopefully will be the beginning of beautiful friendships? What might be the possibilities that this pilot CoS could be replicated elsewhere? Follow along on this journey! I will be writing blogs about critical friendships, to test some ideas. Could this be the start of something? I will conclude this post with the immortal words of Humphrey Bogart spoken at the conclusion of one of my all-time favourite movies.