Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Democratic practice


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:

Settling in(4) Role play(1) Magic(1) research submissions(1) Communications(1) outdoor space(3) social media policy(1) Flowers(1) baby room(1) playleader(1) phone apps(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Awards 2018(3) Online(1) Kerry(1) Trade Unions(1) Competent(1) Our Little Seed(1) Challenges(1) social science(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) outdoor play(6) Breathing(2) educarer(1) keep in touch(1) Whole Group(1) Culture(2) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Learning Story(1) Through the looking glass(1) Halloween(2) early years research(2) Visual Impairment(1) Teamwork(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Cognitive development(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Fee Play(1) Autism(4) Magnavacchi(1) Communicating(1) Little Buddies(1) Exercise(1) books(4) risk assessment(1) Participation(2) Meet the Members(1) Exit interview(1) Mealtimes(1) preschool settings(1) continual professional development(1) Maria Montessori(1) Rich Documentation(1) National Awards 2019(1) CPD(1) family time(1) Arts(1) Self-Esteem(1) Covid pandemic(2) Maternity Leave(1) DES Inspection(1) School Age Childcare(1) Storytelling(7) Educator of the Year Award(3) Behaviour(3) National Awards 2018(2) staying connected(1) youdoodle(1) code of ethics(1) Builders(1) gender bias(1) Obesity(1) NAEYC(1) Blocks(1) Meal time(1) Afghanistan(1) Map(1) Imagination(3) Environment(2) Inter-generational(2) Intention(1) pets(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) play pod(1) Mud kitchens(1) Anthony Semann(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Treasure Chest(1) developing motor skills(1) Party(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) curiosity(3) Your place(1) Infectious diseases(1) play(35) Oireachtas(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Easter(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Feeding(1) Santa(2) Advocacy(1) Learning Stories(9) apps for children(1) Montessori(3) movement behaviours(1) Laughter(1) United Nations(1) Smiles(1) First 5 strategy(1) Penguins(1) SAC(1) World Health Organisation(1) Thinking(1) Inspirational(2) Well-Being(10) reopening(1) dogs(1) Childcare(3) Engineers Week(2) Learning journals(1) purpose(1) Mathematicians(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) toddlers(3) Growing up Outdoors(1) Socioemotional development(1) TOY Programme(1) Magda Gerber(1) Buddy Bench(1) preschool(4) education system(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Self Help Skills(1) interacting(2) Fabric(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Relaxation(1) Buddies(1) listen(1) Leprechauns(1) value(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Interests(1) San Miniato(4) Certificate(1) early years learning(1) documentation(4) Inter-generational learning(2) Window(1) Research Seminar(1) Pobal sector profile(1) educating(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Sleep(1) Favouritism(1) Interactions(3) MECPI(1) Support(1) Syria(1) democracy(1) Iraq(1) Quality(4) Home Corner(1) Engagement(1) Running(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Music(3) communication(4) Graduate(1) Interaction(1) Death(2) STEM(3) Margy Whalley(1) Titles(1) Eritrea(1) Sessional service(1) Sport(1) Frustrations(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) research(6) transitions(10) Síolta QAP(1) Community involvement(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) relationships(18) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) show and tell(1) Inspiring Practice(1) Loss(1) Infection Control(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) curriculum(5) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) UD(1) Reggio(1) European Project(1) Adoption(1) risky play(2) DCYA(6) role playing(1) Child mental health(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Time(1) GDPR(1) Engineering(3) Recycling(2) aistear blog(3) Shapes(2) primary education(1) overhear(1) Valentine's Day(3) Wonder(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Irish(1) Care-giving routines(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Awards Night(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Creativity(6) social media(2) Universal Design(2) animals(2) Mount Everest(1) Thank you(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Pre-School Services(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Traffic Lights(1) play stories(2) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Annual Conference 2017(2) Decisions(1) Online Research Symposium(1) Art(6) Maynooth(1) Digital Devices(1) Childhood(1) ECCE(7) The Lullaby Book(1) Snack Time(1) Grief(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Scéalta Blog(104) Recycle(1) UNCRC(2) community(5) respect(5) outdoors(4) routine(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) christmas(9) Early Years Educators(3) Impact(1) Super Shed Stories(2) COVID-19 landscape(1) Diversity(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Mantra(1) First 5(1) journey(1) Opportunities(1) Limerick(1) EECERA(1) E.coli(1) CIT(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Design(1) eating(1) racism(1) Children's Research Network(1) reopening ireland(1) Nonverbal(1) planning(1) NCCA(3) Playschool(1) AIM(2) Lego(2) risk(2) babies(7) Children's Rights(3) Looking Back(1) Building Resilience(1) Reflective Practice(1) food(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Mindfulness(3) Professionalisation(5) Jenga(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Care routines(1) Albert Einstein(1) Inclusion(3) democratic citizens(1) Decision Making(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Anxiety(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) imotion(1) science week(2) Craft(1) Investment(2) Arlene Forster(1) ECEC(3) Consent(1) Leaders in Practice(1) education(2) Pedagogy(2) mushrooms(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Appreciation(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) learning bias(1) Staff Motivation(1) children’s learning(1) Exploratory Play(1) Awards 2019(1) Mo Scéal(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) TRAP(1) emotions(2) healthy eating policies(1) Empathy(1) Thanks(1) coronavirus(1) Rituals(1) Return to Work Training(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) early childhood(1) Wendy Lee(3) collaboration(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Covid response(2) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) dublin(2) Queues(1) INTO(1) refugees(1) Light table(1) Awards(2) emotional environment(2) Learning Story Awards(2) ERASMUS+(3) Touch(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Leargas(1) june29(1) childcare services(1) National Holiday(1) Wrapping paper(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Independence(1) Small World Play(1) Weather(1) Training(2) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Educators(2) Maynooth University(2) Positivity(1) UN(1) MA(1) dining(1) Child Care(1) Looking Forward(1) Capable(1) Spiders(1) iOS(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) conference(1) Budget 2018(1) ECIAwards20(1) Confident(1) Learning Journal(2) Sociodramatic play(1) ears(1) Proceedings Journal(1) gender stereotype(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Iceland(1) RTE Investigates(1) Kids Own(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Supernanny(1) Xbox(1) structure(1) SPICE Framework(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Children's Voice(1) Trick or treat(1) peer group(1) EECERA 2016(1) Vertical grouping(1) worries(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Plastic(1) lockdown(1) learners(1) Elders(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Identity(5) Malaguzzi(1) Exploring(1) Equality(1) Dance(1) Snakes(1) Mental Health(4) Pen green(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Orla Kenny(1) Seas Suas(1) Mayo(1) Exclusion(1) Biting(1) scéalta(55) ICBN(1) Traditions(2) Self-regulation(1) Kilkenny(1) Nutrition(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) feisty(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) AsIAm(2) Family wall(1) outdoor environment(1) grandchild(1) science(3) Exploring and Thinking(1) learning hub(1) awards 2020(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Maths(6) EM Standing(1) emotional well-being(1) Kindness(1) Summer(1) Children and families(1) Síolta(136) Sculptures(1) Event Guide(1) Trade union(1) Potential(1) Italy(1) Painting(1) Human Resources(1) art of the relationship(1) Learning Stories Award(3) life long learning(1) Glitter(2) Pedagogical leaders(1) Degree(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Treasure(1) Celebrations(4) Upcycling(1) Book Club(2) Creative(1) Norway(2) Drawing(2) Health(2) experience(1) Mark Twain(1) Prexit(1) bonds(1) Vietnam(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Sequins(1) multi-generational community(1) Shoes(1) Children(4) annual conference(1) Leadership(1) Confidence(1) Story(2) IGL(1) Employee(1) Funding(1) ReCreate(2) Japan(1) Stress(2) Brain(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Cork(1) Seanchaí(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Workplace well-being(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Yoga(1) Body Language(1) Document Learning(1) Routines(2) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Covid19 crisis(1) College(1) Patterns(1) Counting(1) Motor neuron disease(1) supportive environments(2) Giraffe(2) Names(1) Workplace Relations(3) Games(1) Performance Management(1) Early Years Education(1) Maths Week(1) play pods(2) child-centred approach(1) annual awards(1) Gardening(1) Snacks(1) Scents(1) CCTV(1) Photographs(1) Trigonometry(1) Academic Skills(1) under 3's(3) Love(3) Youtube Series(1) friendships(1) International Narratives(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) meals(3) Gratitude(1) creche(1) Horizon 2020(1) behavioural science(1) PIP(1) environments(1) Time Out(1) Early Years(1) Study Trip(1) reading(5) children development(1) RIE philosphy(1) Workforce(1) Kindness Challenge(1) trust(4) COVID-19(14) early years settings(1) Reading Time(1) online training(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Line-ups(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Masterclass(2) Budget 2019(2) maternity health(1) Pobal(1) ECEC Setting(2) Qualifications(1) Change(1) play therapy(1) memories(1) ELC(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Sustainable(1) Wesco(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) mental health problems(1) Facebook(1) Primary School(3) Siolta blog(8) Aistear(130) Playdough(1) learning(19) Budget 2020(1) Fantasy play(1) Inspections(1) Ceremony(1) bloom app(1) early childhood educator(2) responsive relationships(1) Twitter(1) Pretend Play(1) linc(1) The Jelly King(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Arithmetic(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Affordability(1) child-centric(1) parents(6) Plants(1) Mixed age groups(3) Belonging(3) HR(1) dining experiences(1) listening(1) Graduation(1) Bereavement(2) Sustainability(3) blog(52) New Appointments(1) Sweets(1) stories(3) Social Skills(1) Technology(3) Academics(1) Book Review(1) story time(2) Family(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) pablo(1) Policy(2) Wilenski(1) Visitors(1) Loving Relationships(2) Performing(1) Laugh(1) conversations(1) Irish guidelines(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) inspiring interactions(1) man up(1) University(1) budget(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Winter(1) Digital(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) early life(1) development(8) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Celebrate(1) Large Doll Play(1) UNICEF report(1) keezy(1) Administrative Burden(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine