Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Democratic practice

By: MARLENE MCCORMACK

Monday 16 November 2020

Biden has won! It has been nail-biting stuff for those who follow politics. Even if politics is not your thing, it has been hard to avoid the emotional build-up of the American presidential election and the heightening problems of racial division in the USA in recent times. But it is not just in America …. think about unrest in Hong Kong, protesting students in Thailand, the women in Poland and so it goes – we won’t even mention Brexit!   Never mind COVID-19, the world feels to be politically on a knife-edge.  So, you might ask what has this got to do with this blog?

Well, in our respective roles, whether that is working directly with young children and their families or teaching early childhood students in further or higher education, I think now more than ever we need to check our social and democratic compasses.   I don’t mean just in terms of Government or society; I mean in terms of what we want for our youngest children here in Ireland.

I have always been fascinated with Reggio and its origins. Out of the pain and injustices of the second world war, the Reggio approach emerged from the community to ensure that never again would people accept or just go along with the status quo.  The Reggio ways of working support children to be critical and creative thinkers, problem solvers, collaborators and active citizens.   The notion that we too as educators or teachers have a role in supporting very young children as democratic citizens is a powerful one – and it’s true.

Democratic practice is a formidable concept, about which Peter Moss writes extensively, and there are opportunities every day to help our children think and behave as active citizens.  The simple act of listening to children says that we value what they have to say.  Of course, listening is the start but I think we also need to help them form and voice their opinions within the context of the group.  In other words, we have to guide them in the practices of challenging and articulating their viewpoint, maybe questioning or giving them the vocabulary to name feelings.  This act of finding voice can be challenging even for us as adults.  I think of times I have stayed silent and avoided saying the hard thing out of fear!   

Perhaps we want our children to be questioning, critical, considered, brave – willing to stand up for what is right.  That is a tall order and one that they grow into slowly.   Harry Potter comes to mind. If you are a fan you will remember when Dumbledore awarded extra points to Neville on the basis that he demonstrated extraordinary courage because "it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”    Helping children to be respectful and powerful communicators, with friends and adversaries alike, takes time and sensitive skill on our part, but it is an approach that I think will pay dividends for our children and for our society, if what we want is a true democracy.  To support children in this democratic stance we need to slow down in our pedagogy and become more conscious of what we are trying to nurture. 

So, consider the potential within your room or setting to cultivate a culture of democratic practice in the small things. On the larger and global stage maybe we can breathe a little easier as America readjusts to a new presidency and hopefully can begin to mend internal divides.

 

Marlene McCormack is a lecturer and placement coordinator on the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education in the DCU Institute of Education. Over her time in early childhood, she has worn many hats, as playgroup leader, centre manager, director of training, department head in ECI and always as an advocate for those working directly with children and families.  Her current focus is on preparing students for professional practice and her research interests include pedagogy and documentation.
0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Socioemotional development(1) youdoodle(1) Mental Health(4) Pobal sector profile(1) Sweets(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Exploring(1) Anthony Semann(1) Self-Esteem(1) community(5) partnership with families(1) Early Years(1) Mark Twain(1) Time(1) Seas Suas(1) continual professional development(1) United Nations(1) DES Inspection(1) ears(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Elders(1) Quality(4) food(1) Vertical grouping(1) behavioural science(1) coronavirus(1) COVID-19(16) Nuturing interactions(1) aistear blog(3) Music(3) Sleep(1) preschool settings(1) multi-generational community(1) University(1) Looking Back(1) Interests(1) World Health Organisation(1) art of the relationship(1) Magda Gerber(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Children's Book Club(1) Mathematicians(1) mental health problems(1) outdoor environment(1) risk(2) Appreciation(1) listen(1) Seanchaí(1) Favouritism(1) Interaction(1) Sport(1) Our Little Seed(1) Easter(1) Decision Making(1) Digital(1) listening(1) linc(1) pablo(1) Gratitude(1) dining(1) Running(1) Fee Play(1) Malaguzzi(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Youtube Series(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Síolta(138) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Patterns(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) awards 2020(1) Well-Being(10) Cork(1) gender stereotype(1) research(6) MA(1) Childcare(3) Learning Story(1) Light table(1) Leaders in Practice(1) refugees(1) Infectious diseases(1) Story(2) code of ethics(1) Budget 2020(1) scéalta(57) documentation(4) man up(1) World book day(1) Pretend Play(1) Rituals(1) Challenges(1) Interactions(3) Craft(1) inspiring interactions(1) play stories(2) UN(1) Visual Impairment(1) Inter-generational(2) blog(55) bloom app(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) emotional environment(2) Home Corner(1) Intention(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) memories(1) ECEC Setting(2) Covid pandemic(3) social media policy(1) E.coli(1) Children(6) early life(1) Oireachtas(1) worldbookday(1) Albert Einstein(1) mushrooms(1) Role play(1) San Miniato(4) Children and families(2) Trigonometry(1) Wrapping paper(1) CIT(1) SPICE Framework(1) Impact(1) Treasure Chest(1) Primary School(3) Maynooth University(2) First 5 strategy(1) Exploratory Play(1) outdoors(4) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Family wall(1) Early Years Educators(3) Obesity(1) journey(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) National Awards 2019(1) Capable(1) partnership(1) Body Language(1) Book Club(2) Feeding(1) Buddy Bench(1) quarantine kids(1) Settling in(4) Belonging(3) Kerry(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Sustainable(1) Facebook(1) Treasure(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Tuscan Approach(2) structure(1) children’s learning(1) Mindfulness(3) Confidence(1) healthy eating policies(1) AsIAm(2) Síolta QAP(1) Snack Time(1) Winter(1) Aistear(130) Policy(2) Shoes(1) Awards(2) quarantine(2) GDPR(1) Eritrea(1) homeschool(1) UD(1) ECEC(3) Affordability(1) Exercise(1) routine(2) Educators(2) Return to Work Training(1) Trade Unions(1) Rich Documentation(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Kids Own(1) Visitors(1) School Age Childcare(1) Change(1) Laugh(1) Snakes(1) babies(7) democracy(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Mixed age groups(3) Online Research Symposium(2) Smiles(1) reopening(1) Learning Stories(9) show and tell(1) natural environment(1) communication(4) Death(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) International Narratives(1) Children's Research Network(2) Health(2) Maths(6) Effect of Lockdown(1) Afghanistan(1) Frustrations(1) Reading Time(2) Annual Conference 2019(1) Vietnam(1) risky play(2) Children's Voice(1) Cognitive development(1) Community involvement(1) experience(1) Fantasy play(1) Workforce(1) Awards Night(1) Communicating(1) Touch(1) curriculum(5) Engagement(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) worries(1) Games(1) Builders(1) Confident(1) Wesco(1) TOY Programme(1) Social Skills(1) Recycling(2) under 3's(3) respect(5) preschool(4) science(3) Whole Group(1) EM Standing(1) Weather(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Art(6) childcare services(1) Japan(1) outdoor space(3) INTO(1) Family(1) Potential(1) Arlene Forster(1) Mealtimes(1) NAEYC(1) Consent(1) Valentine's Day(3) Wonder(1) Iceland(1) Engineering(3) Scéalta Blog(105) Buddies(1) Celebrations(4) developing motor skills(1) Sociodramatic play(1) movement behaviours(1) Loss(1) Xbox(1) Map(1) Care routines(1) Playdough(1) Administrative Burden(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Maria Montessori(1) Digital Devices(1) books(5) Creative(1) Irish guidelines(1) conversations(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Stress(2) Horizon 2020(1) Opportunities(1) Gardening(1) reading(6) educarer(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Maths Week(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Early Learning and Care(1) phone apps(1) Inspiring Practice(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Graduation(1) Plants(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Meal time(1) environments(1) Competent(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Masterclass(2) social media(2) COVID(1) ELC(1) Research Seminar(1) Drawing(2) Annual Conference 2017(2) Inclusion(3) Iraq(1) ERASMUS+(3) play therapy(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) learning bias(1) Yoga(1) Bereavement(2) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) GoToMeeting app(1) research submissions(1) ReCreate(2) lockdown(1) Brain(1) UNICEF report(1) online training(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Recycle(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Childhood(1) Santa(2) Child Care(1) Irish(1) Imagination(3) Europe(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Study Trip(1) STEAM(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Human Resources(1) Mayo(1) NCCA(3) Giraffe(2) social science(1) Child mental health(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Line-ups(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) overhear(1) Exit interview(1) Norway(2) baby room(1) Book Review(1) Leprechauns(1) Creativity(6) Reggio(1) child-centric(1) Communications(1) Meet the Members(1) outdoor play(7) Awards 2019(1) Sculptures(1) trust(4) supportive environments(2) june29(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Budget 2018(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Lego(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Shapes(2) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) transitions(10) Infection Control(1) Academic Skills(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) keep in touch(1) scientific and artistic processes(1) pets(1) Syria(1) UNCRC(2) Awards 2018(3) Identity(5) New Appointments(1) risk assessment(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Limerick(1) playleader(1) Advocacy(1) keezy(1) Painting(1) Laughter(1) Performance Management(1) Summer(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) creche(1) Sequins(1) grandchild(1) early childhood ireland research(1) meals(3) Training(2) eating(1) CPD(1) Supernanny(1) Engineering Ireland(1) conference(1) IGL(1) The Jelly King(1) Diversity(1) life long learning(1) Self Help Skills(1) early years settings(1) Decisions(1) an post(1) Glitter(2) Graduate(1) Learning Journal(2) TRAP(1) Empathy(1) Counting(1) Orla Kenny(1) Equality(1) planning(1) Inspections(1) reopening ireland(1) iOS(1) children development(1) Academics(1) staying connected(1) learning hub(1) Children's Rights(3) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Large Doll Play(1) RTE Investigates(1) peer group(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Learning journals(1) First 5(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Window(1) Halloween(2) Super Shed Stories(2) dining experiences(1) Pedagogy(2) Pen green(1) Loving Relationships(2) Maternity Leave(1) purpose(1) Photographs(1) Celebrate(1) family time(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) built environments(1) maternity health(1) Snacks(1) Fabric(1) Mantra(1) AIM(2) EECERA(1) PIP(1) Document Learning(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) story time(2) Unesco(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Hand Hygiene(2) Early Childhood Education(1) Mo Scéal(1) Leadership(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Through the looking glass(1) ECCE(7) Culture(2) emotions(2) Grief(1) christmas(9) Kindness(1) HR(1) Qualifications(1) Little Buddies(1) EECERA 2016(1) Nonverbal(1) Magic(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) relationships(18) collaboration(1) racism(1) learners(1) Covid response(2) Arts(1) Trade union(1) Technology(3) primary education(1) emotional well-being(1) Degree(1) Traditions(2) learning(19) Participation(2) dogs(1) Ceremony(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Nutrition(1) Wilenski(1) Wendy Lee(3) Montessori(3) Flowers(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Budget 2019(2) Twitter(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Names(1) dublin(2) Queues(1) education system(1) Scents(1) Exclusion(1) Design(1) animals(2) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Thinking(1) Universal Design(2) First 5 transitions for children award(1) imotion(1) Behaviour(3) Blocks(1) Relaxation(1) Leargas(1) Pre-School Services(1) Breathing(2) Love(3) early childhood educator(2) Professionalisation(5) education(2) Reflective Practice(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Anxiety(2) Siolta blog(8) Funding(1) early year’s classrooms(1) Mount Everest(1) development(8) MECPI(1) Workplace Relations(3) Italy(1) toddlers(3) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) College(1) Sustainability(3) value(1) STEM(3) Sessional service(1) Self-regulation(1) feisty(1) science week(2) Engineers Week(2) play(36) Proceedings Journal(1) early years learning(1) Mud kitchens(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) InspireMe.ie(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Traffic Lights(1) Pobal(1) Spiders(1) democratic citizens(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) National Pyjama Day(1) European Project(1) gender bias(1) Penguins(1) Time Out(1) friendships(1) DCYA(6) CCTV(1) Margy Whalley(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Jenga(1) child-centred approach(1) Upcycling(1) Magnavacchi(1) National Holiday(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Employee(1) Care-giving routines(1) role playing(1) Early Years Education(1) budget(1) Certificate(1) Staff Motivation(1) Maynooth(1) Online(1) Performing(1) Trick or treat(1) Environment(2) Reopening Childcare(1) Croatia(1) ECIAwards20(1) Prexit(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) SAC(1) ICBN(1) responsive relationships(1) early years research(3) Plastic(1) RIE philosphy(1) Party(1) Support(1) curiosity(3) interacting(2) Playschool(1) bonds(1) apps for children(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Storytelling(8) Thank you(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Autism(4) Building Resilience(1) annual conference(1) Event Guide(1) Routines(2) Reggio Emilia(2) Biting(1) Your place(1) parents(6) Emergent Curriculum(1) Positivity(1) Workplace well-being(1) Looking Forward(1) Inspirational(2) Reggio Children Network(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) play pod(1) Adoption(1) play pods(2) annual awards(1) Independence(1) Investment(2) early childhood(1) stories(3) Teamwork(1) National Awards 2018(2) Titles(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) educating(1) Dance(1) Thanks(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Kilkenny(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Small World Play(1) Arithmetic(1) Growing up Outdoors(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine