It was my first time participating in the World Forum Foundation Conference. As with any new experience, I approached it with hesitation and excitement. Not knowing what to expect, I expected to be introduced to new ideas and perspectives. However, I needed more to prepare me to engage in powerful conversations with people worldwide.
We need to realize that we are interdependent and that our actions affect people from different parts of the world. Any political, social, and economic decision we make impacts children worldwide. We must not act in isolation but consider how our theories and philosophies affect others.
It is fascinating that as we Look outside the United States, we find and are influenced by many other innovative early educational practices and philosophies regarding school readiness and play.
For example, the schools of Reggio Emilia in Italy, Anji China, the Te Whariki curriculum from New Zealand, the forest schools from Scandinavia, and the Educare
model from Sweden all offer educators and policy-makers practical definitions of high-quality best practices based on a fundamental need for play, with a specific gaze towards socio-cultural perspectives and integration.
The question becomes; how will these philosophies translate into equitable practices in diverse communities outside the country of origin? And, are these programs only available in communities that have the financial means to afford or defend them?
The inequity of economic distribution was apparent in the multiple presentations I attended. I question the ongoing dialog about children from underrepresented communities entering education without language and knowledge. We should instead focus on how current systems of inequity have diminished the opportunity gap. In other words, let’s stop placing the onus on children and instead assume our responsibility as educators to create more opportunities for “all’ children. I ponder if focusing on more sustainable materials within the context of each community would level the plain field and offer a more equitable worldwide educational perspective. I wonder if focusing on more sustainable materials within the context of each community would level the field and offer a more equitable worldwide educational perspective.
It was encouraging to hear how people’s identities centered on the decisions made in support of children. I enjoyed learning about the cultural diversity of the people participating in the forum. I engaged in powerful conversations about educational pedagogy and its application in different countries. I learned from Dr. Hopi Martin to re-evaluate my role in supporting indigenous people with respect and a profound responsibility to speak up against the current inequities. Through the five days of learning, I explore my identities and what they mean in my work as an educator.
I know that I am a warrior for social justice and human rights. I understand and have an understanding of the impact of inequality and discrimination. More importantly, I recognize the importance of standing up for our rights and our responsibility to respect the rights of others. To continue to be a warrior for social justice, I must strive to build and maintain positive and trusting relationships. I must approach conflict peacefully and in gratitude to prevent causing pain and continuing oppression.
Lastly, we must come together to understand how we can meet our current needs without diminishing the quality of the environment or reducing the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs.
I left with gratitude and hope for children worldwide.