Get Adobe Flash player
COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL programs are isolated from the rest of the world. This contributes to this gen- erational apartheid in our communities. Strange as it seems, early childhood workplaces have grown to mirror, rather than transform, the invisibility of children in our society at large. The early childhood field itself is a clear target of commercial interests. This is ironic, because we are marginalized and devalued in the overall alloca- tion of resources and public attention. We, too, often behave as if we’ve lost our way. Rather than steadily cultivating a vision for ourselves, we often just follow the latest trend. In our professional meetings and conferences, we are persuaded to spend our time rushing rather than relating, consuming rather than creating. Professional development and meetings rarely focus on chil- dren’s words, feelings, experiences, or thought processes. Taking Up the Invitation Children can awaken in us an understanding of being inventive, engaged, delighted, and determined to rearrange the world. If we listen to and watch them closely, they will teach us to be more observant, inquisitive, and respon- sive in our work and lives. It isn’t easy to pay attention to children in this way. So much conspires to take us in other directions. The daily crush of tasks and pleas for attention is enormous. Our requirements and accountability systems, our schedules and meetings and learning goals can easily push child- hood out of the picture. Unlike children, we adults have so many pressing agendas that we often miss what is right under our noses. Children invite us to take a closer look. This book invites you to learn the art and skill of obser- vation. Doing so has the potential to change your life, not just your teaching, for the better. The late Anita Olds, an expert in designing spaces for early childhood, used to say of licensing requirements, “Children are miracles, not minimums!” They come to us full of wonder, eager to understand and be competent. Yet despite our good intentions to teach them, we adults easily begin to deplete children’s innate wellspring of zest for learning. In An American Childhood, Annie Dillard puts it this way: No child on earth was ever meant to be ordinary, and you can see it in them, and they know it too. But then the times get to them, and they wear out their brains learning what folks expect, and spend their strength trying to rise over those same folks. (Dillard 1993, 208) COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction 3