Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.
Pirating, for me, is more than just a job. It’s a career, a profession…a calling and one what l takes very serious indeed. There are them out there what sails the ocean blue and would call themselves pirate, yet they cannot tell a cockswain from a poop deck; them’ve never learnt how to proper hornswaggle their parrot and couldn’t hoist the mainsall or blow the man down should their lives depend on it. And, believe me, me hearties, for us pirateers, lives have been lost over alot lesser doings.
One night in my cabin, after a long day of heavin’ to and battening down the hatches l got to thinking over a glass o port; “Is it really their fault”, l wondered, “that they don’t know their X factor from their X marks the spot? Is it they l should be keel hauling, or is it them what ‘ave failed in teaching them what aughta walk the plank?” So l calls in my first mate. “Roger” I says, for that be ‘is name, “Roger, how came it to pass that young Henrietta does not know how to hoist anchor and always is having her parrot on the wrong shoulder?” “Aaarrrrr” says he, shifting uncomfortably in his seat, “well, l mean, l guess it never came up? I mean, she never asked me?” “Avast!” I shout as l fling my port glass out the port hole, “It be you what is the teacher. You have to think about stuff and then think some more. You have to learm ’em what matters!”
“Aye” says Roger, “I’m seeing your point here. But what if their daddies be not wanting them to learn summat or their mummies think them not capable to understand yardarm unfurling? What then?” “It don’t matter!” I roar, as l slams my first onto the table, “You teaches ’em just the same. It be your duty”!
I can’t help but think it’s the same in ECEC, that we have a responsibility to actually teach and not just the fun easy stuff, but the meaningful challenging stuff – especially the meaningful challenging stuff. Not just the stuff which comes up – the dinosaurs and diggers, the seasons and shapes, but the big, important stuff – diversity, acceptance, advocacy, respect. And the really important stuff might not always just conveniently occur; you may not have a child with 2 mummies, a Sudanese child or a child in a wheel chair at your service, but that does not mean it’s ok to create an environment in which these children and their families are not represented. Sometimes you have to intentionally teach. I’ve never ever in all my years of teaching had an actual, live dinosaur at my centre, and yet, not a year goes by that we don’t learn about dinosaurs!. It’s also wrong (and intellectually lazy) to not bother to understand the difference between gender identify and sexuality. They are not the same thing at all people.
And while I’m at it, it’s also lazy to blame parents for us not doing our job properly. “Oh but parents love it/might not agree/can feed their children what they want” are oft heard justifications for less-than-good practice. But l say NO! We are the qualified professionals, the ones with extensive knowledge of child development, the ones that understand how their brains develop and how they learn. We are the ones privileged to be able to share the world with the children in our care, why would we not want to do that to the very best of our ability? Parental desires do not (and should not) determine whether l read that story about gender identity, teach the children about evolution, provide that adult directed “art” activity or advocate for inclusion and equity. I must, instead, be guided by my professional understandings and pedagogical beliefs and the knowledge that l am fundamentally important in the ongoing creation of a better, fairer world.
Like first mate Roger, we have to learn ’em what matters. But we have to learn stuff too. It be our duty!