While at the Early Childhood Australia Conference in September, I had the opportunity to attend the keynote presentation of Professor Peter Moss, author of Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care.
He prompted the audience to consider what kind of society we want for our children now and in the future.Professor Moss asserted that early childhood is “first and foremost a political and ethical practice.” He also shared a quote from the infamous educational theorist Malaguzzi: “pedagogy is always a political discourse whether we know it or not. It clearly means working with political choices.”
This prompted me to think of the terrible insecurity we are facing currently with the federal government making no commitment to fund their contribution to 15 hours of preschool for every Australian child beyond 2020 and into the future.
As a sector and as a union, our fundamental values are solidarity, community participation, respect for diversity, cooperation, equality and a belief in democratic systems. The Liberals’ callous complacency over preschool funding does not encompass these values. Without ongoing funding, the impact will be felt by our society’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. For many educators, this also calls in to question their job security.
Our work as teachers and educators can transform political discourses and disrupt long-held establishment beliefs. Overseas, we are seeing teachers and unionists using their agreement negotiations to demand not only better wages and working conditions but also wider social change. They call it “bargaining for the common good”.
For there to be a better world, we must stand up and fight for equality, equity, respect and the safety of all society’s children. All children deserve a bright future full of possibilities. We all have power; together we can advocate for a better world. Our children and our profession are worth fighting for.