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What do we know about early learning and what are we doing about it?

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Proceedings from a Canadian Education Association symposium
Publication Date: 
18 May 2005

Symposium description:

On May 18, over 150 participants from many different professional settings came together to address this important question. They were joined by experts in the field, including Dr. J. Fraser Mustard, Dr. Clyde Hertzman, Dr. Doug Willms, and Dr. Marlene Scardamalia.

Most of us came to the Symposium with the deep belief that early learning is crucially important. By the end of the day, most of us agreed that we have not always seen the potential of children &em; their innate curiosity, their interest in how things work and their determination to learn. Old approaches that see young children as empty vessels to be filled by adults are giving way to approaches that begin with the interests of children themselves. What potential would we unleash if we saw young children as capable, resourceful individuals ready to be full partners in creating their learning experiences?

We acknowledged the real challenge of building a knowledge society, the need to break the barriers that isolate early educators in our respective program and policy silos. Our vision is of building communities of reciprocity and caring around our youngest citizens. Emerging ideas, new partnerships and bold actions shake our own beliefs and sometimes those of society, and they take us into uncomfortable territory. But they give us hope that the actions required to shape the world of children for their sake as well as ours are within our grasp. The need for action is immediate. To the participants of this Symposium, it is unacceptable that we wait any longer.