The teaching of tolerance in a climate of fear

It feels pretty unnecessary to add yet more words to the rise of Trump, but I think a lot of people are processing this through writing. That’s how I do it, anyway. So bear with me, I’ll be quick.

For early childhood professions – educators, teachers, managers, leaders, policy makers – there is now no more crucial time to focus our efforts and energies more on intentionally teaching tolerance, and diversity, and the evils of prejudice.

The children we work with with soon inherit a world that appears still riven with intolerance and acceptance of the worst aspects of human nature – even elevating the personifications of those characteristics to one of the most powerful positions in our world.

As with so many things, feelings of powerlessness and defeat are overwhelming. But if you are in a position to either influence the planning and programs offered to children (or influence those developing and providing them), why not commit to taking action. By intentionally planning for the only things that can eventually defeat the darker parts of ourselves – role-modelling, teaching and enacting tolerance and respect.

Take the dinosaurs, play-doh and puppets off the planned and documented program for a little while. Focus on kindness, and celebrating difference. A better world depends on it.


Accentuating the positive

One of the maxims of the Internet is “don’t read the comments”, and that is certainly good advice when it comes to Judith Sloan’s original blog entry decrying “dim-witted” educators.

But now that her views have attracted so much attention, there have been some measured and powerful statements supporting the work we do. This is at least a positive outcome from this whole thing.

I wanted to highlight this particular one from Catherine Hydon, a well-known advocate for ECE.

So much of what is wrtitten here against the reforms in early childhood education (eg wreckage) is utterly misinformed and indicates a complete lack of knowledge of the sector, the work of early education and the implementation of the reforms. The evidence is overwhelming and eloquently quoted in previous posts. It is unfortunate that we as a sector have not been more successful in ensuring that the community understands this, but i guess we were getting on with our job…supporting young children to learn and grow rather than an elaborate information campaign.

I know the implementation of the reforms well and it has worked and is working and the lives of children and indeed whole communities will benefit from the work that is being undertaken.
I suggest that those who are bagging the process find out more about it from those involved.

And Ms Sloan… I assume your comment about the dim-witted child care worker is now understood as a foolish mistake and one that you regret. I look forward to your apology.

Ms. Hydon also recognises that it is up to us as representatives of the sector to be engaging in positive advocacy in the community to raise our professional image.

You can follow Catherine on Twitter, or check out her website.

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Overcoming prejudice as a male educator in ECEC

Being the only man on this female dominated course and the butt of the teachers’ jokes was hard in the beginning. “I cried every evening for the first few weeks. I had a good friend there who helped get me through it but I spent a lot of time crying into my pillow at home,” [John Warren] admits.

This did happen many years ago and he says “things have improved since I started out but men still encounter prejudice” and men are still very much a minority in childcare as only two per cent of the early years workforce is male and this statistic has remained steady in the past decade, despite national and local recruitment campaigns aimed at men.

Sue Learner, (7/3/2013)

I am lucky to have had a mostly positive experience (with a few exceptions) as a male early childhood educator in Australia. But the numbers are still low in Australia, and I have heard a lot of my male colleagues still suffering similar prejudice and suspicion.

This will continue to be a major challenge for the sector until a coordinated and holistic approach to recruiting male educators is implemented.