‘Can’t you just keep politics out of centres?’: Why the answer must always be ‘no’.

The mission of this blog, and by extension a lot of my career in the early education sector, has been to hang out at the crossroads of politics, policy, advocacy and children, and see what zooms by.

Throughout the time that I’ve been speaking and writing on those issues, there’s always been a small amount of the same response: “why do you have to bring politics into it?”

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“Men just bring something different to the centre”: Neurosexism and early education

Back in 2016, I sat in a room in Canberra as part of a panel on men in early education. I used to do that sort of thing a little bit, and this one was of the usual standard. I heard the same sort of words from the other panellists (all men, by the way) that I’d heard before. “Diversity is important”. “Children, especially boys, need strong male role models”.

The phrase “reverse sexism” was never uttered during that panel, but it was the unspoken undercurrent of a handful of the comments.

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‘That’s so adorable!’: The curse of cute

You’ll have seen a lot of it on Facebook. Advertising for a PD course, or a new centre, or a consultant. There’ll be a bit of text, overlaid over a large image of a child doing something “cute”. Maybe the child is wearing a small suit, sitting behind a desk. So cute! Maybe they’re in a pilot’s uniform, holding a steering wheel. How adorable – they’re pretending to be fly the plane!

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“For the love of it”: Educators, women’s work and advocacy

Just over five years ago, I stood with a group of early childhood educators and United Voice members in one of the many gardens at Parliament House, and listened to these words from the man who would become Australia’s Opposition Leader.

“It is no longer enough, I think, for Australia to rely upon the emotional, the intellectual and indeed the physical efforts of Australia’s childcare workers and not adequately remunerate them.

“It is no longer enough, in Australia, that we say to marvellous professional childcare workers, for whom we entrust the development and the safety of our children and for whom these people commit emotionally to our kids every day and to say that there’s nothing that can be done about your low level of remuneration.”

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It’s time for men in early childhood to advocate for women

This has been tough to write, and has taken me many months of thinking to put down. I know that the words I write here will be misinterpreted, misunderstood, or even seen as some sort of grandstanding or attention-seeking.

I can’t help any of that, but I need to quickly say these things.

Over the last couple of years I have turned down opportunities to speak or write about challenges for men working in early childhood.

I want to explain why, and why I will continue to do so.

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Think it’s tough being an early childhood educator now? Just wait until 2 July 2018.

I’ve talked pretty endlessly on this blog, and on the Early Education Show podcast, about my concerns about the Federal Government’s new Child Care Package (formally known as the Jobs for Families Package, which tells you quite succinctly everything you need to know about these reforms). They’re bad for children, they’re bad for the sector, and the sector should not have supported them in any way.

As we heave ourselves over the line into 2018, the year that will see the introduction of this new legislation, I wanted to highlight an issue I am worried is not getting anywhere near enough attention.

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LIKE! SHARE! COMMENT! How we’re turning children’s learning into a social feed and why it needs to stop.

The things that are easiest to see aren’t usually the things that matter most for kids. An alphabet sign on the wall doesn’t mean kids are really engaging with reading and learning. A daily email with a photograph of your daughter is nice to have, but it doesn’t tell you much about whether the teachers are talking to her in a supportive way or sparking her curiosity about science.

– Suzanne Bouffard, The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children

I’m slowly making my way through Suzanne Bouffard’s excellent new book on how early education is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in the United States, and the passage above really stood out. It’s early on in the book, and Bouffard is discussing how quality early learning environments can be challenging to explain to families. They have pre-existing ideas of what children’s spaces should be, and are naturally more inclined to just accept things that celebrate their individual child like lovely photos.

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