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The role of the early childhood educator in British Columbia

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Early Childhood Educators of BC
Publication Date: 
1 Feb 2022

Excerpted from position paper

ECEBC’s Vision of the Early Childhood Educator

This position paper joins the vision of the Early Childhood Pedagogy Collaboratory that sees the early childhood educator as reflective of the delicate, complex, situated pedagogical practices necessary to educate young children in the 21st century. The work of early childhood educators is woven within diverse contexts, communities and settings. Inspired by the orientations of the BC Early Learning Framework, the early childhood educator in BC engages in pedagogical work with obligations and responsibilities necessary to move towards more livable worlds. This position paper extends the ECEBC Code of Ethics (2021) by envisioning an early childhood educator who co-creates pedagogical spaces with children, families and communities. Through an ethics of care (Langford & Richardson, 2020), the early childhood educator holds a disposition to listen, to be open, to be challenged to think otherwise, to hold space for complexity, and to live joyfully.

ECEBC puts forward the following orientations that educators in British Columbia engage with in pedagogical practices that envision more livable worlds.

Educators work with pedagogical commitments

Educators create and work with pedagogical commitments to respond to current conditions of our time. Today’s children inherit challenging issues including rampant climate change, systemic racism, global pandemics, ongoing violence and displacement, war and persecution, poverty, and extractive global trends amongst many others. They also inherit advances in human rights, technology, artistic movements, and other positive shifts in societal values. These conditions demand careful ethical and pedagogical responses that have the potential to enact transformative change. Educators collaboratively craft these pedagogical responses in local contexts, always responding to particular local values as well as global challenges and opportunities without applying universal solutions. These pedagogical commitments and responses contest the dominant discourses of developmentalism and schoolification and bring new narratives into early education.

Educators respond to legacies of colonization

Educators understand the legacies of colonization and critically reflect on the historical and geopolitical circumstances of the lands on which they practice. The pedagogical commitments that educators collaboratively create are responsive to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action, Indigenous Early Learning Child Care Framework (IELCCF), and First People’s Principles of Learning. Educators seek to recognize and disrupt the every day, unquestioned practices of early childhood education that perpetuate the legacies of colonization.

Educators build responsive relationships

Educators build responsive relationships with children, families, and communities through an ethics of care that are democratic, inclusive, and joyful. Reciprocal, respectful relationships with sensitivity to land, history, and culture require educators to critically reflect on power imbalances and local context. An ethic of care means educators are welcoming and open to the other, noticing, listening with the recognition of the unknowability and unpredictability of human relations (Langford & Richardson, 2020).

Educators co-construct lively curriculum

Educators co-construct lively curriculum with children, materials, place, and each other as they intentionally experiment with pedagogies. Rather than thinking of curriculum as a series of activities or as a matter of following children’s leads, educators design curriculum as living inquiry (Early Childhood Pedagogy Collaboratory, 2021). A living inquiry is where educators and children actively engage in experimentation with materials and ideas and, through the process, co-create worlds (Vintimilla & Kind, 2021). By this we mean that children and educators attend to the challenges and events that are part of their actual lives, think together about how they might respond to these, and find ways to activate pedagogical processes. Through these processes, educators foster dispositions and possibilities for learning to live well together, as put forward by the BC Early Learning Framework (2019). Because a curriculum as a living inquiry is pedagogical, it requires educators who intentionally construct conditions for sustained collaborative work.

Educators practice with ethical, commitments

Educators practice with ethical, situational and relational commitments as they negotiate tensions, contradictions and vibrant possibilities that arise in pedagogical work. Ethically intervening requires educators to pay attention to the ethos (ways of life) of their context in order to foster more just and equitable forms of pedagogical practices with children and families. Educators do not follow altruistic and utilitarian principles, neither do they assume a normative morality nor a risk management approach. Rather, ethics is a ‘doing and practice’ that occurs in the complex relationships and vibrant possibilities that are part of everyday life (Bellacasa, 2017). Educators practice with ethical obligations that do not involve the application of a predetermined answer. These are responsive commitments to act towards a situated vision of a world that sustains life for all (ECEBC Code of Ethics, 2021).