Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Educating Feisty Children


Tuesday 11 October 2016



Margy Whalley is coming to Dublin. She will present a keynote, along with Aldo Fortunati, at the Early Childhood Ireland conference on Working with Children from birth to 3 years in Marino Institute of Education, Dublin on the 27th October. It’s an occasion not to be missed. Margy has been a long-time friend of the early childhood sector in Ireland. She is now retiring as Director of the world renowned Pen Green Centre for Children and Families and so this is one of the last opportunities to hear her talk about the wonderful work they have done there.

She comes to mind now as I prepare a module on play that I will deliver to the degree students in Maynooth University, starting next month. I want to begin the module by looking at our values about play and learning – and what we think childhood is about – and the image of the child we hold – and our genuine and strongly held beliefs about the rights of children.


That’s where Margy Whalley comes to mind. She has been a life-long campaigner for the rights of children. Indeed, on the occasion of her retirement party, we did a little podcast tribute to her and we said (jokingly) that we had traced her roots and found her to have strong Irish heritage going back to the famous Pirate Queen Grainne Ní Mháille (pronounced Wháile – get the Whalley connection?) and we said that we were glad to see the great Irish warrior gene had survived in her. Like Gráinne Ní Mháille, Margy has been fearless in challenging the power relationships between children and adults. Her image of the child is not the compliant, obedient, disciplined child but the child as feisty and confident – with a strong sense of themselves as contributors to community. That’s why, way back in the 80s in Pen Green, they called their curriculum ‘Learning to be Strong’. It’s a defining trait of the children emerging from the Pen Green centre. Indeed, these strong, assertive children are often said in the local schools to have the Pen Green Syndrome. They are socially and emotionally competent but it does mean that they are not always easy. They expect to have a voice in what happens to them, they expect to be listened to.


Holding these values inevitably presents challenges to us as Educators. They mean that we have to ensure our daily practice with children reflects our values – and that’s not always easy. So many of our ideas about education come from our own experiences in a world where you learned from the teacher, what was in the books, as though it was gospel. Aistear has changed that – it says that the curriculum is emergent and responsive to children’s interests and enquiries. It locates play as a key medium for children’s voice – a context in which they are in control of what happens. We are therefore faced with the challenge of creating play opportunities for children where they can explore and think and voice their opinions and be adventurous, imaginative and feisty. Now, that’s a word that will always remind me of Margy Whalley. I can’t wait to be enthralled, informed, energised and challenged by her again on the 27th October, at Marino College. Do your best to be there. For a sneak peek look here

Click here to book your place now. 

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Obesity(1) Self-regulation(1) social media(1) Maths(4) dining(1) Children's Research Network(1) Stress(2) Nutrition(1) National Holiday(1) Teamwork(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Engagement(1) Gratitude(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Mark Twain(1) NAEYC(1) communication(4) Facebook(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Cognitive development(1) Kilkenny(1) babies(7) Awards 2018(3) experience(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Santa(2) friendships(1) Loss(1) Intention(1) Aistear(108) Sequins(1) Confident(1) Team work(1) educarer(1) Vertical grouping(1) New Appointments(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Laughter(1) Culture(2) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Recycling(2) Adoption(1) Impact(1) Employee(1) The Jelly King(1) Xbox(1) Behaviour(3) environments(1) Biting(1) HR(1) CIT(1) Technology(2) Leargas(1) Anxiety(2) Training(3) Care routines(1) National Awards 2019(1) Giraffe(2) UNCRC(1) mushrooms(1) Light table(1) Reflective Practice(1) Summer(1) conversations(1) Story(1) Builders(1) play stories(1) listen(1) Shapes(1) play(30) Pen green(1) United Nations(1) Pobal(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Mantra(1) Shoes(1) Thanks(1) Laugh(1) Children's Rights(1) Rituals(1) interacting(2) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Treasure Chest(1) Administrative Burden(1) Health(1) Workplace Relations(3) Potential(1) Mental Health(3) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) trust(3) Flowers(1) Socioemotional development(1) Positivity(1) Learning Story(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Supernanny(1) budget(1) Little Buddies(1) Trigonometry(1) Sleep(1) Settling in(4) Sculptures(1) under 3's(3) Grief(1) meals(3) refugees(1) feisty(1) Playdough(1) Siolta blog(2) Annual Conference 2019(1) Inspirational(2) blog(28) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Self-Esteem(1) TOY Programme(1) Drawing(2) Growing up Outdoors(1) Halloween(2) Family wall(1) Line-ups(1) Primary School(2) Challenges(1) Independence(1) Mindfulness(2) Window(1) Sustainability(3) Buddy Bench(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Craft(1) Self Help Skills(1) Qualifications(1) Seas Suas(1) College(1) books(4) pets(1) Wilenski(1) Awards 2019(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) routine(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) overhear(1) ECEC(1) Montessori(2) Funding(1) Budget 2018(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Reggio(1) Meal time(1) Painting(1) Learning Stories(7) Emergent Curriculum(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) reading(4) Maynooth(1) Academic Skills(1) Engineering(2) Childhood(1) journey(1) STEM(2) educating(1) Study Trip(1) Mount Everest(1) Syria(1) curiosity(3) toddlers(3) Communications(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Photographs(1) Masterclass(2) Music(3) Time Out(1) Ceremony(1) Family(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) NCCA(2) Trick or treat(1) PIP(1) Snakes(1) Identity and Belonging(4) CPD(1) Horizon 2020(1) Blocks(1) TRAP(1) Online(1) Creativity(4) Awards(2) outdoor space(3) AsIAm(1) Certificate(1) Penguins(1) Interactions(2) memories(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Children(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) San Minia(1) Early Years Educators(2) EECERA 2016(1) Spiders(1) science week(2) scéalta(26) Party(1) Patterns(1) ECCE(6) Dance(1) Universal Design(2) Art(6) Routines(1) planning(1) Bereavement(1) Italy(1) Mayo(1) Appreciation(1) collaboration(1) Home Corner(1) baby room(1) Favouritism(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Visual Impairment(1) Japan(1) Storytelling(2) Nonverbal(1) Graduation(1) eating(1) Magnavacchi(1) Support(1) Professionalisation(4) Time(1) Magic(1) listening(1) Scéalta Blog(84) Kerry(1) Smiles(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Irish(1) Visitors(1) Prexit(1) worries(1) Malaguzzi(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) UN(1) IGL(1) Sustainable(1) Community involvement(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) transitions(10) documentation(2) Christmas Creativity(2) Games(1) Treasure(1) San Miniato(4) Twitter(1) Social Skills(1) Advocacy(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) food(1) Leadership(1) Event Guide(1) outdoors(3) Scents(1) Traffic Lights(1) Relaxation(1) Maternity Leave(1) Weather(1) Wendy Lee(2) Map(1) Oireachtas(1) learning(15) Learning journals(1) dogs(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Wonder(1) Confidence(1) European Project(1) Our Little Seed(1) Liz Kerrins(1) supportive environments(2) Vietnam(1) Mealtimes(1) Capable(1) Well-Being(7) Breathing(2) Plastic(1) education(2) Running(1) emotional environment(1) Upcycling(1) Creative(1) Wrapping paper(1) Eritrea(1) Gardening(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Exercise(1) Winter(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Wesco(1) Consent(1) Sport(1) Arts(1) Recycle(1) RIE philosphy(1) Lego(2) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Síolta(104) RTE Investigates(1) MA(1) Arithmetic(1) Iceland(1) Feeding(1) Identity(5) Performing(1) Exploring(1) Margy Whalley(1) Educators(1) Human Resources(1) Cork(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Staff Motivation(1) Policy(2) Iraq(1) Childcare(2) Academics(1) CCTV(1) Maths Week(1) Decisions(1) Limerick(1) maternity health(1) Change(1) Reggio Children Network(1) development(8) Fantasy play(1) Touch(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) respect(5) Role play(1) Brain(1) Autism(3) Trade union(1) relationships(15) Inclusion(3) Mathematicians(1) Exit interview(1) Diversity(1) Orla Kenny(1) risk(2) Motor neuron disease(1) INTO(1) Magda Gerber(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) linc(1) risk assessment(1) Graduate(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Communicating(1) child-centred approach(1) National Awards 2018(2) Through the looking glass(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Norway(2) Snacks(1) Maria Montessori(1) outdoor play(6) stories(2) value(1) research(6) Traditions(2) Plants(1) Jenga(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Engineering Ireland(1) Competent(1) purpose(1) Kids Own(1) Quality(4) grandchild(1) Empathy(1) curriculum(5) Thinking(1) ERASMUS+(3) Yoga(1) Frustrations(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) ICBN(1) Child mental health(1) Workplace well-being(2) MECPI(1) Belonging(3) EM Standing(1) Afghanistan(1) First 5 strategy(1) GDPR(1) Budget 2019(2) Participation(1) Design(1) story time(1) Investment(1) Inter-generational(1) Affordability(1) Queues(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) preschool(2) Deirdre Rogers(1) risky play(2) dublin(2) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) University(1) early childhood educator(1) Research Seminar(1) Names(1) Performance Management(1) Celebrate(1) Snack Time(1) Interests(1) Leprechauns(1) Buddies(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Tuscan Approach(2) early years research(1) Decision Making(1) Titles(1) Love(2) Valentine's Day(3) First 5(1) Interaction(1) Arlene Forster(1) Inter-generational learning(1) Glitter(2) community(5) science(3) Environment(2) Workforce(1) AIM(2) Imagination(3) emotions(2) Death(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Whole Group(1) Síolta QAP(1) Early Years(1) dining experiences(1) Playschool(1) SPICE Framework(1) Sweets(1) parents(5) Book Club(2) Early Learning and Care(1) Degree(1) ReCreate(2) Fabric(1) Research Conference 2019(1) animals(2) Mo Scéal(1) Leaders in Practice(1) christmas(8) The Lullaby Book(1) role playing(1) Body Language(1) DCYA(4) Special Needs Assistants(1) UD(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Engineers Week(2) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Maynooth University(1) bonds(1) Mud kitchens(1) Meet the Members(1) Pobal sector profile(1) ears(1) Care-giving routines(1) Thank you(1) Easter(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(2) Celebrations(4) Mixed age groups(2) Albert Einstein(1) Exclusion(1) Trade Unions(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine