Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.
A little while ago, we got a PM on our Facebook Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates page asking if we had any links about craft and celebrations. We didn’t. But I had been thinking a lot about this very thing and promised to put some of my thinking into words for the blog.
I started this over a few times. But… what was I trying to say? That I, personally, don’t normally do craft for celebrations? What was my message- that because I don’t do it therefore no one else should either? Why would I want to say that? Why would I want to take this space we have created specifically for our writings of dissent to proclaim how right I am? How ‘good quality’ my practice is? I wondered what impact this would have on the readers of this piece- I thought some will love it and use it as justification for their own practices and to (try to) convince their craft-loving colleagues that they are wrong and some people will comment things like ‘why would you even waste your time writing this, there’s nothing wrong with crafty celebrations’. What use is polarising the readers? What changes? Who wins? Does anyone think differently about the topic? One of our first mottos us pirates made to ourselves was ‘question everything’. And that includes questioning myself.
My own politics around celebrations are rather Grinch-like: I dislike consumerism, I dislike being told to celebrate Mothers or Lovers on a particular day rather than when I want to, I dislike the competition that I have found between rooms or groups as to who can make the ‘best’ present and I especially dislike the gender stereotypes that come with Mother’s and Father’s Day (and writing this, I wonder what cultural stereotypes are also embedded into celebrations that I’ve not thought about before). But I must learn to question my known ways of thinking and practising and teaching celebrations. I can’t presume that my anticonsumerist, anti-gender stereotypes, anti-competition, anti-Hallmark ways of thinking will fit into every context I find myself teaching. They won’t always be the recipe I want to follow when I think about how to approach celebrations within my work.
If I wrote a piece that expanded on my ideas, then I presume one way of working with celebrations, one validity, one truth, one quality and only one ‘proper’ way of dealing with the many and varied celebrations that humans enjoy, commemorate or mark. I reject the idea that there is only one way to understand quality, and ergo, I must reject that I could write an authoritative piece on craft and celebrations. Who am I to decide quality for someone else’s context?
So I write this to say- think about your context, these children, these families, your own politics, your teaching ideals and pedagogy, gender and cultural stereotypes, what children will learn and experience about the celebration through the craft, and then choose. When I consider what to include in the curriculum I provide I consider how will this approach and dismantle gender and cultural stereotypes (not avoid, I’ve decided that approaching and dismantling is more valuable), how will it be interesting and relevant to the children, what do I intend to teach through/with this experience… and it won’t always be the same answer because it won’t always be the same context. To avoid any sort of expectations of what quality can and should look like, we must always think and re-think how we teach, educate and care for young people. And we must be prepared to change our minds.
© Awilda Longstocking, 2015
Refuse, Resist, Rebuild