What is a right? What rights do children have in their schools, families and communities? And most importantly, What are the rights young children believe they should have in order to reach their full potential and participate in their community? These are the questions early childhood Professor John Nimmo pondered as he embarked on a film project entitled “Voices of Children,” for the World Forum Foundation (WFF).
John Nimmo, assistant professor in the Curriculum and Instruction Department, is working with a team of multinational educators to discover the central values of our youngest global citizens –ages birth to eight years old. He is a member of the Working Initiative on Children’s Rights, for the WFF, an international consortium of educators working to improve the lives of young children around the world.
Nimmo’s global committee of early childhood educators and videographers sought to establish the voice of children in a documentary that would help adults understand the point of view of children. The group wondered what children actually knew about their rights. How did they feel about their place in society? And what was truly important to them?
For Nimmo, it was a unique chance to work with early childhood professionals from around the world. “What would it look like for videographers and social scientists from Brazil to come together with educators from the United States and Singapore and come to India and think about not only how we listen and how we speak about rights but also how we document them and make them visible?” said Nimmo, who has spent 30+ years working in early childhood education in multiple countries and cultures. “In the process, our goal was to unpack the typically Western and individualistic concept of rights and develop a more complex and culturally inclusive understanding.” Continue reading
The world is changing rapidly, both outside and inside the classroom. Early childhood educators have new challenges every day that provide opportunities to rethink and reimagine approaches to conventional early childhood instruction. In a new volume, co-edited by professors Will Parnell (Curriculum and Instruction) and Jeanne Marie Iorio, a total of 27 early childhood experts from across the United States, Canada, and Australia (as well as Parnell and Iorio) offer insight and innovative practices for working with the youngest students. The book, Rethinking Readiness in Early Childhood Education: Implications for Policy and Practice, is part of Bloch and Swadener’s Critical Cultural Studies of Childhood series.
“The current early childhood readiness discourse positions the child and family as deficit,” said Parnell. “Focused on rethinking readiness, our text opens doors to seeing what is possible when the experiences of children and families from across the world are honored and central to policy and educational decision making.”
Mary Ann Anderson (BS ’73, MS ’75) has a lifelong passion for early childhood education and believes that it is the key to a community’s future.
According to Ms. Anderson, a substantial and compelling body of research agrees that early education programs have positive long-term effects on children’s school performance, educational attainment, and adult earnings. In other words, she believes that early childhood education is an investment in our future economic growth, which more than offsets its cost. She says, “The majority of neurons are developed between birth and age three, when the brain’s peak capacity retains new information. Eighty-five percent of who you are—your intellect, your personality, your social skills, is developed by age five. If we can provide quality education for young children before the age of five, the long-term positive results are simply overwhelming.” Continue reading