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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD | 9 Having become aware of the unpredictable journey ahead, some of us may feel persuaded to withdraw from our field’s tough challenge. Yet throughout its histo- ry, ECE’s aspirations to maximize children’s early learning opportunities have in- spired our predecessors and colleagues to step forward on the field’s behalf. Surely this call for action will arouse similar dedication and commitment. Changing ECE as a Field of Practice Requires That We Change Ourselves Our field’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors have contributed to ECE’s past and current challenges. While not solely responsible for ECE’s tough challenge, each of us participates in creating and sustaining the systems we now think need to be changed. This realization requires acknowledging that problems “out there” are also “in here” 23 and highlights why professionalizing ECE necessitates different ways of thinking. Few engaged with systems change question that this kind of work depends on new ways of thinking. 24 Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era begins the field-wide process of seeing and thinking differently about ECE as a field of practice. Innumerable questions await our consideration. For example, at the most basic level, “What unifying purpose brings ECE together across its multiple sectors?” Answers to questions such as this don’t already exist, which is what makes our undertaking a tough challenge infused What unifying purpose with adaptive work. 25 Moving forward as a professional field of brings ECE together across practice, therefore, requires that we open ourselves to change, its multiple sectors? both individually and collectively. Embracing change is essential to rethinking ECE’s occupational configuration for a new era. HOW DO WE GET STARTED? Stretching our thinking to escape the field’s fragmentation is a primary intent of this book. It may be surprising to learn that the best place to start is with conversations. Not just “any ol’ conversations,” though, but conversations that engage us in the kind of personal and collective reflection that invites thinking together about how to create an alternative future for ECE. 26 As described by COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL