As educators, directors and teachers in the sector, are we well-placed to affect the political and media debate around Early Childhood Education and Care?
As ECEC is one of my driving passions, I try to keep up on media coverage on the sector. My interests also lie in politics more generally, so that makes for a nice crossover.
I write, I tweet and I comment. I think it’s important to add my voice to the debate, but I also enjoy it on a personal level.
ECEC is certainly not short of representation in the media and political spheres. It’s not the brightest, shiniest issue out there, but you can generally expect an article or essay to pop up every couple of days.
What I have noticed is that our voice isn’t out there. By “our” I mean Early Childhood educators, directors and teachers. The sector representation is coming from families (cranky about waiting lists and fees), private operators (negative about reforms and wages) and government (always ready to talk about what they have done, not what they could or should).
Occasionally a great story breaks through (check out this fantastic one from Catherine Deveny), but the vast majority of the time we are having our story told for us, or not told at all. There are undoubtedly a myriad of reasons why this is true, but from my “infovore” perspective, I wonder if it’s because as a group we aren’t terribly good at putting our views forward?
I’d love to hear from any readers of this blog (there have to be one or two, right?), how do you engage with and access the wide world of the media in relation to ECEC? I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to this, but I don’t think it’s too hard – and I think it’s something that anyone can and should do.
I know as much as anyone how much the ECEC sector asks of us in terms of time and energy, so I can’t imagine suggesting that we all take more of an interest in how ECEC is portrayed in society is going to be too popular! What I thought I might do however, is just list a few simple ways to get started.
- Read – Simple, but effective! We all spend a lot of time reading the latest Early Childhood publications (AJEC, Rattler), but I think it’s important that we get perspectives from outside our own professional community.
A really simple way of gathering news on a topic is to create a Google News Alert. Google then does the work for you, searching the Internet each day to find any articles relating to a search item and then emailing you the links in a single handy email. Unfortunately, the best keyword to use is still “childcare”, but you’d be surprised what can turn up in your inbox.
- Network – Get social networking! For some reason, I always get a lot of resistance from a lot of colleagues and friends about joining and utilising social networks. I may be biased, but they are the absolute simplest way of meeting, networking and crucially sharing with ECEC colleagues from around Australia.
So if you’re not on, get on! No matter your IT skills, Facebook and Twitter are designed to be simple to use so that they get more people signed up. You might be surprised who you can connect with in the ECEC online world!
- Share – At a wonderful local centre here in Canberra, the Senior Teacher utilises a “Media Wall”. Whenever she finds an article on ECEC locally or nationally, she clips it out and adds it to the wall for comment and debate by educators, families and children. I really loved this concept, and it’s a great and easy way to engage with media and political issues as an ECEC centre community.
So there are my three easy tips to become ECEC media-literate! There are many, many reasons to have that engagement as part of our work, but crucially for me if we’re not collectively engaged, aware and active, others will tell our stories for us.
If you’re taking the plunge and getting into social networking, look me up on Twitter and join the ECEC discussion!