This morning my inbox contained an email from one of my Linkedin contacts Tom Shea, and with permission from Tom I am sharing via my blog.
So Tom’s email in full is below;
n writing this I would share with you that I regard myself as a person who looks for actions over words and believes that a picture says a thousand words. I am an “agent entreprovaracateur”, (a cross between and agent provocateur, and entrepreneur and a provoker) not normally a writer!
However, I am so concerned that as a world we continue to look at the black or white when we live in shades of grey. ‘We’ are not right, they are not wrong. Collectively we all need to be clear that improvement needs to be made AND recognise that what we do with and for the very youngest children is not just important, it is an imperative and we can change black, white AND grey to beautiful colours.
I am an evangelist of the knowledge that our brains develop to almost 90% by the age of four – so as a society we big people need to focus all our efforts on the new born. If we do this effectively, that we do it well, their generation will be substantially better prepared for life and enabled to achieve their full potential.
To fail them at this age is an act bordering on the criminal and, sadly, the early years sector society has not always lived up to that challenge. This needs to change.
I advocate that ‘play’ is the fundamental life blood of being, not just learning; that the ultimate deprivation of play leads to death, not a sadness of being; and from this knowledge believe play deprivation causes permanent damage and that negative ‘play’ is as damaging as deprivation.
As a sector and worldwide profession, we are slowly growing, from a caterpillar of being a ‘service’ of babysitters, to becoming a cocoon of a ‘profession’ where pedagogical butterflies can emerge to join all of the butterflies already doing it – flutterbying is the order of the day.
Our children need the very best opportunities. They deserve a professional workforce who can combine the sparkle of childhood with the understanding of brain development. We do not need sweeping generalisations, massive commercialisation or a growth in education.
We need resources that actually enhance practice and potential, not just commercially exploit our limited budgets. We need to be clear that we will not tolerate; bad practice, bad products, poor training, exploitation, inappropriateness and greed. We will embrace the natural, the adventurous, the challenging, the innovative and the best – not necessarily the most expensive or the latest technology.
We need to develop the argument that countries which commence the journey into more formal educational methods start to at 6 or 7 years of age, develop quicker, better and more skilfully than cramming at four, five or even six. That said the most successful of these systems still retain a strong foundation in play and creativity. We need to ensure that risk and challenge combine with safety and that “killing 99% of household germs” may just discourage immune systems.
As I begin the last part of life (I feel somewhere between 5 and 23 years old BUT in grown up years I am 60) I am trying to build up a network of people and resources that actually do good. Awkward about people seeing us a people selling products – we don’t push hard enough to get our products out there (all help gratefully received) but maintain the quality and economy of lots of things.
We are ethically based by instinct and design – we don’t exploit people, we are honest, so we tell you what you need not what we have (and often we don’t have what you want but know someone who does). We do it with quality and integrity.
Almost everything we do is open-ended and can be used by children in a million ways (ask them, not me, to name them!)
So many of the things we do are interconnected and prove that we not only preach – we practice as well and most of what we do has arrived from our work with children… All of the ‘products’ arrive and arise from our philosophies and our facilities…
• Child First is five day nurseries in very different way and in very different settings; that all welcome visitors and do everything from duck raising to forest nursery to organic food – but all in a very interesting way – the staff teams are exceptional.
• The Bunk Cot – combines self managed opportunities for children – with children able to chill out and sleep without big people intervening.
• Naturally Learning is a growing company which embraces all that is good in child development – with its own nurseries.
• Fafu is a company using child design and beautiful fair trade materials, manufacturing to create what some would call “dressing up clothes” but that is a bit like calling truffles mushrooms… and Fafu is segueing in and around other things.
• Dragonswood builds with wood… for children and others… it’s not about swings and roundabouts or furniture – it’s about playing and space and natural timber.
• Imynda is a cross between training, dance, movement, wings, faeries, parachute cloaks, learning – but most importantly about how we influence and improve brain development with very young children. Fafu have designed and made their resources
• Rokkaplay is a small but growing Cornish Company with a most innovative designed piece of open ended equipment.
• Sound Children combine amazing musical expert artists – who have created training and encouraging resources with real instruments for real children.
• And Mother Nurture – an organic play person who is growing slowly into a ‘sourcer’ (or a sorcerer?) of innovative and exciting child led organic resources.
• Elska – a really inspirational performer from the Island of Elska an imagination place that understands children, understands childhood and is set to change Elska from a performer, songwriter artist to a worldwide place and character – and wait until you hear and see her on video – and hear the synergy with Fafu. Check out you tube and i tunes….
And the philosophy of joining The Organic Child is that you want understand and respect what children need and are happy to share it… oh and that you can share the ethical approach to life…
If you want to join us or find out more– email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom and The Organic Child