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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD | 11 to someone driving a predetermined change agenda. Nor would these approaches nurture the ongoing commitment necessary for sustainability. 30 Given ECE’s his- tory and current status as a field, transformative action depends first on creating shared understandings, relationships, and intentions. 31 In addition to the three objectives outlined earlier, these conversations have a fourth objective: to form and foster the conversational skills and boundary- crossing bonds foundational to the development of collective leadership, which, in turn, is integral to effecting systems change. 32 Although the change process is almost guaranteed to be punctuated by uncertainties and anxieties, liberation from outdated habits of mind, shared commitment, and anticipation of ECE’s new era will fuel our pioneering work. Nearly every facet of the field’s work is experiencing change. Whether to change is not an option. ECE will continue to change. We can step forward as a field of practice and shape what the change looks like or prepare ourselves to be changed by others. Left for us to decide is: Whose vision will drive the field’s future? Three Conversational Forms As you’ll recall, three conversational forms have been identified: dialogue, skilled discussion, and balanced advocacy. These conversational forms can assist the field with examining its mental models and understanding ECE’s systemic patterns from multiple perspectives. They also can help generate options for structuring ECE as a professional field of practice. A systems-thinking term, mental models “are deeply ingrained assumptions, gen- eralizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.” 33 When dealing with complex, interdependent issues, individual and collective mental models can often block change. Conse- quently, guidance offered by this book focuses on increasing self-awareness of our individual and field-wide mental models. Peter Senge, Hal Hamilton, and John Kania identify fostering reflection and generative conversations as a core capability of systems leaders. 34 They also classify creating space for change and enabling the emergence of collective intelligence as one of three core capabili- ties of system leadership. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL