Early Childhood The view from the ECA Conference

It was great to have the opportunity to attend Early Childhood Australia’s (ECA) conference in Hobart in September. The location on the Hobart waterfront offered gorgeous views through the windows, while the speakers inside offered equally inspiring views from a really interesting and challenging line-up of speakers.

Peter Moss gave an outline of his ongoing work challenging the concept of ‘quality’. His argument is that this is a technical view of education that ultimately limits us to one model. He has a counter-proposal that includes better parental leave for parents of infants, and well-funded universal education services for children from 18 months of age. 

The element of this proposal that really grabbed my attention is the central importance of a trusted early childhood workforce. I think this is a really important idea that our union can get behind. We should always ask whether measures proposed to improve or assess our sector are based on trusting our teachers.

Gunilla Dahlberg was another celebrity presenter on the program. She spoke about pedagogical documentation as a democratic practice. She lauded small local daily actions – using the wonderfully evocative phrase ‘ant steps’ – and urged us to pay more attention to the sense of wonder children bring to their learning.  

A team doing action research with early childhood activist, researcher and teacher Dr Red Ruby Scarlet showcased practical examples of teachers implementing an approach that reflects some of these principles through a ‘common worlds’ lens. 

These teachers are showing how impressively our sector combines high-level theoretical work with teaching practice that is highly respectful of children. 

I hope people will get a chance to hear and engage with this idea more over the coming year.

Congratulations to ECA for hosting such a stimulating conference. 

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