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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 6  |   CHAPTER ONE They hold their members accountable for competent practices and responsible outcomes. Public esteem is based on an occupation’s contribution of its specialized knowledge and skills to society’s well-being—knowledge and skills not readily found in society at large. This, in turn, creates the need for formal and specialized preparation and oversight of practice. Finally, professions proactively exercise leadership that facilitates field-wide adaptation to new circumstances, seizes op- portunities for improving practice, and advocates for conditions that make compe- tent practice possible and accessible. 11 Not only can this increase children’s chanc- es of fulfilling their potential, it can do the same for ECE as a field of practice. ENGAGING WITH ECE’S CHALLENGE Organizing ECE as a profession will demand collective resolve to align the field’s espoused values and aspirations with the realities of its occupational configuration and uneven expectations for practitioners. Too often, those of us in ECE resist do- ing what we know to be necessary for achieving good results for children. We tol- erate poor performance from colleagues and ourselves and sidestep change, rather than grapple with thorny issues and challenging choices. At the risk of sounding preachy, taking a stand on the caliber and impact of our collective practice is part of our field’s moral task. Learning from Those Who Have Preceded Us Even though the field’s desired future state has been articulated, ECE’s configura- tion as a profession is unknown at present, as are the steps for getting there. The systemic change that lies ahead is best achieved through collective leadership and the real-time learning that comes from immersing in a complex change process that involves • opening up to multiple perspectives and interpretations of the field’s pres- ent status within and across its sectors and stakeholders; • facing difficult truths about current realities; • letting go of individual and collective thinking once defended as sacro- sanct; COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL