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:

early years research(3) Penguins(1) relationships(18) Croatia(1) educarer(1) Gratitude(1) Budget 2020(1) Mixed age groups(3) play pods(2) science week(2) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Self-regulation(1) Infection Control(1) early childhood ireland research(1) Limerick(1) social media policy(1) Positivity(1) Hand Hygiene(2) UNCRC(2) democratic citizens(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) emotional environment(2) Universal Design(2) playleader(1) Flowers(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Mo Scéal(1) NAEYC(1) Mud kitchens(1) Syria(1) NCCA(4) Dolly Partons Imagination Library(1) Window(1) World Health Organisation(1) Norway(2) DCYA(6) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Craft(1) Book Club(2) Nordic model(1) Síolta QAP(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Giraffe(2) Grief(1) Lego(2) Quality(4) World book day(1) TUSLA(1) Inspirational(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Awards 2018(3) Cognitive development(1) Culture(2) Anthony Semann(1) Our Little Seed(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Children's Research Network(2) Creativity(7) Magda Gerber(1) Line-ups(1) Halloween(2) feisty(1) mushrooms(1) conference(1) Irish guidelines(1) Communicating(1) Performing(1) Eritrea(1) risk assessment(1) SAC(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Spiders(1) man up(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Youtube Series(1) gender stereotype(1) Socioemotional development(1) Competent(1) Return to Work Training(1) conversations(1) structure(1) Liz Kerrins(1) aistear blog(4) purpose(1) bloom app(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Diversity(2) Traffic Lights(1) scientific and artistic processes(1) Covid response(2) Kindness(1) emotions(2) learning(19) Environment(2) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Yoga(1) Confident(1) Interaction(1) Leprechauns(1) Professionalisation(5) INTO(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Running(1) UD(1) Exploratory Play(1) Early Years Education(1) Siolta blog(8) SPICE Framework(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Teamwork(1) ears(1) MECPI(1) documentation(4) emotional well-being(1) COVID(3) Scents(1) responsive relationships(1) Administrative Burden(1) Glitter(2) Your place(1) Qualifications(1) preschools(1) keep in touch(1) Party(1) Community involvement(1) Santa(2) Names(1) Obesity(1) maternity health(1) doodle families(1) interacting(2) Learning Story Awards(2) First 5(1) preschool settings(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Plants(1) DES Inspection(1) Queues(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) under 3's(3) Covid19 crisis(1) Irish(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Cork(1) STEAM(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) awards 2020(1) Recycling(2) Recycle(1) worries(1) Ceremony(1) creche(1) show and tell(1) Mayo(1) Shapes(2) Super Shed Stories(2) Kerry(1) Affordability(1) children development(1) RTE Investigates(1) Plastic(1) outdoor play(7) Small World Play(1) Buddies(1) Wilenski(1) Budget 2019(2) Nonverbal(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Treasure Chest(1) Meet the Members(1) education(2) Favouritism(1) Mental Health(4) Children's Voice(1) Touch(1) MA(1) QRF(1) Snakes(1) Trade union(1) COVID-19(18) Support(1) Infectious diseases(1) Unesco(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) HR(1) Pretend Play(1) Buddy Bench(1) inspiring interactions(1) Fire Safety(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Children's Book Club(1) curiosity(3) Employee(1) Reggio(1) play(37) Fee Play(1) Home Corner(1) Supernanny(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Laughter(1) UN(1) Europe(1) Advocacy(1) Malaguzzi(1) an post(1) Health(2) listen(1) animals(2) nutritional learning(1) Interactions(3) behavioural science(1) Wrapping paper(1) Jenga(1) Online Research Symposium(3) Participation(2) Map(1) Exit interview(1) supportive environments(2) Sequins(1) Stress(2) Frustrations(1) childcare services(1) Margy Whalley(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Dance(1) Snack Time(1) Masterclass(2) staying connected(1) National Awards 2019(1) San Miniato(4) Graduate(1) Bereavement(2) imotion(1) learning bias(1) AIM(2) The Jelly King(1) Thank you(1) Imagination(3) babies(7) Learning Story(1) Reflective Practice(1) TOY Programme(1) Well-Being(10) child-centric(1) online training(1) trust(4) Nutrition(1) Games(2) Iceland(2) CPD(1) Budget 2018(1) Inter-generational learning(2) friendships(1) Independence(1) Research Conference 2019(1) healthy eating policies(1) partnership(1) eating(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) child led(1) Counting(1) Interests(1) Iraq(1) Xbox(1) reopening ireland(1) Mantra(1) Inspections(1) Child mental health(1) dining experiences(1) dogs(1) early year’s classrooms(1) STEM(3) development(9) Maternity Leave(1) risk(2) Weather(1) respect(5) dining(1) Loving Relationships(2) UK Government(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) gender bias(1) dolly parton library(1) Love(3) Workforce(1) Reggio Emilia(2) pablo(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) College(1) refugees(1) Blocks(1) grandchild(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Communications(1) learning hub(2) child-centred approach(1) Pobal sector profile(1) LINC Programme(1) Magnavacchi(1) pets(1) Children(8) Women(1) AsIAm(2) Sociodramatic play(1) Study Trip(1) Sessional service(1) coronavirus(1) First 5 strategy(1) peer group(1) Inspiring Practice(1) food(1) budget(1) New Appointments(1) Light table(1) Magic(1) family time(1) scéalta(60) keezy(1) Mount Everest(1) racism(1) Síolta(140) Body Language(1) Feeding(1) Building Resilience(1) research submissions(1) Appreciation(1) Trade Unions(1) Educators(2) memories(1) Leaders in Practice(1) upskilling(1) Albert Einstein(1) social media(2) Visual Impairment(1) Prexit(1) Primary School(3) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Equality(1) European Project(1) Funding(1) Intention(1) Visitors(1) early childhood(1) UNICEF report(1) quarantine kids(1) Trick or treat(1) blog(59) Covid pandemic(3) Aldo Fortunati(4) Sport(1) Leadership(1) Maths Week(1) Gardening(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Rich Documentation(1) Montessori(3) Jillian van Turnhout(1) ReCreate(2) Human Resources(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Loss(1) meals(3) Maths(6) Educator of the Year Award(3) Academics(1) dublin(2) Creative(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) Sweets(1) Large Doll Play(1) homeschool(1) Thanks(1) multi-generational community(1) worldbookday(1) Staff Motivation(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) communication(4) Learning Stories(9) early life(1) Mark Twain(1) Valentine's Day(3) Through the looking glass(1) Childcare(3) science(3) ERASMUS+(3) Family(1) ECIAwards20(1) Orla Kenny(1) CIT(1) Performance Management(1) Seanchaí(1) Death(2) Early Learning and Care(2) Mathematicians(1) Degree(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Titles(1) ECCE(7) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Thinking(1) Maynooth(1) Settling in(4) TRAP(1) Facebook(1) Identity(5) Family wall(1) Sustainability(3) GDPR(1) Care-giving routines(1) Challenges(1) environments(2) early years learning(1) Routines(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) women in research(1) Digital Devices(1) Inter-generational(2) partnership with families(1) timekeeping skills(1) Pen green(1) Photographs(1) quarantine(2) story time(2) learners(1) social science(1) Whole Group(1) RIE philosphy(1) parents(7) Capable(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Children's Rights(3) Child Care(1) Workplace Relations(3) child safeguarding(1) annual conference(1) Pre-School Services(1) Trigonometry(1) Exercise(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Celebrate(1) doodle den(1) Builders(1) outdoors(4) Vietnam(1) E.coli(1) ECEC(4) Training(3) Inclusion(4) phone apps(1) Pobal(1) lockdown(1) Upcycling(1) Aistear(132) children’s learning(1) Sleep(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Return to Work(1) Treasure(1) Playdough(1) Anxiety(2) educating(1) Time Out(1) Maria Montessori(1) IGL(1) christmas(9) ELC(1) Research Seminar(1) Behaviour(3) Self-Esteem(1) Adoption(1) Decision Making(1) Skillnet(1) Role play(1) Shoes(1) CCTV(1) Investment(2) code of professional responsibility(1) Children and families(2) Early Years(1) Looking Forward(1) play therapy(1) play stories(2) listening(1) University(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Document Learning(1) Kids Own(1) Exclusion(1) Regulation 23(1) Italy(1) Policy(2) guardian(1) Empathy(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Learning journals(1) Proceedings Journal(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) reopening(1) Workplace well-being(1) Traditions(2) Engineering(3) Smiles(1) Laugh(1) Mindfulness(3) National Pyjama Day(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) Arlene Forster(1) Tuscan Approach(2) natural environment(2) outdoor environment(1) mental health problems(1) Mealtimes(1) toddlers(3) Japan(1) Decisions(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Certificate(1) primary education(1) EECERA(1) june29(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Breathing(2) democracy(1) community(5) Twitter(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) COVID-19 crisis(1) United Nations(1) Art(6) reading(6) Awards(2) Reading Time(2) National Holiday(1) Sustainable(1) ECEC Setting(2) routine(2) Seas Suas(1) art of the relationship(1) Pedagogy(2) built environments(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Belonging(3) Opportunities(1) Time(1) Technology(3) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Summer(2) Awards 2019(1) GoToMeeting app(1) continual professional development(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) National Awards 2018(2) play pod(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) iOS(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) early childhood educator(2) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) developing motor skills(1) Growing up Outdoors(2) Graduation(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) journey(1) EM Standing(1) UK(1) Wonder(1) overhear(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) apps for children(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) value(1) annual awards(1) Wendy Lee(4) Celebrations(4) Playschool(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Book Review(1) Arts(1) Arithmetic(1) InspireMe.ie(1) outdoor space(3) Annual Conference 2019(1) Snacks(1) Little Buddies(1) Fantasy play(1) Drawing(2) Identity and Belonging(4) Meal time(1) Exploring(1) youdoodle(1) Care routines(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Horizon 2020(1) baby room(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) role playing(1) early years settings(1) transitions(10) books(5) Research and Professional Learning(1) Winter(1) Wesco(1) Maynooth University(2) Vertical grouping(1) Childhood Development Initiative(1) Digital(1) Early Years Educators(3) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) research(8) code of ethics(1) Potential(1) Music(3) Special Needs Assistants(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Change(1) curriculum(7) Childhood(2) International Narratives(1) Awards Night(1) School Age Childcare(2) Engagement(1) Sculptures(1) ICBN(1) Biting(1) Event Guide(1) education system(1) Easter(1) bonds(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Impact(1) EECERA 2016(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) movement behaviours(1) preschool(4) Elders(1) Learning Journal(2) Story(2) planning(1) Relaxation(1) Autism(4) Rituals(1) presentation skills(1) Painting(1) linc(2) Confidence(1) Design(1) Looking Back(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Storytelling(8) Patterns(1) Online(1) Kilkenny(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) stories(3) Engineers Week(2) Afghanistan(1) life long learning(1) risky play(2) collaboration(1) Scéalta Blog(106) PIP(1) Academic Skills(1) Brain(1) Oireachtas(1) Consent(1) Social Skills(1) experience(1) Leargas(1) Fabric(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Self Help Skills(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine