So what is an extremist view? And whose ‘right and wrong’ are early years settings to promote?   1 comment

I am of course referring to this weeks headlines about creationism as a science, and extremist views – and Nicky Morgan’s pledge to prevent public money from being used to fund schools and early years settings who do not promote ‘British Values’

Before you start reading this blog, please note the views expressed in this blog are my personal views – and are not the views of any organisation that I am a member of, or  involved with, nor are they the views of any individual that I am associated with.

 

I do fully recognise the spirit of the new Minister’s intention – and I do understand that in a very small minority of cases there is cause for concern, that some may have (or are) stepping over the line of respecting and valuing all views – and even in some cases of trying to ensure their personal view is the one that is predominately presented.

However – I can not understand why the Government need to give the local authorities power to withhold funding from those that they think are not promoting British Values, I do not understand why Ofsted need to add judging the teaching of  ‘British Values’ to the long list of things that are open to personal and professional interpretation – and therefore inconsistencies.  I have to ask –  how will an inspector manage to put aside their personal views and beliefs and judge a school or setting on if promoting ”rights and wrongs’ in the required way?

Whose ”right and wrong’ are we supposed to promote?

Each practitioners?

Take any setting and there will be slight variations of even the basics between practitioners – take honesty – Some will think  so called ‘white lies’ are acceptable – others  will be 100% honest all the time – and yet others will only be honest if in their own interest.

Each family attending the setting?  

All those involved in looking after other people’s children are already required to work in partnership with the families of the children they care for – and respect their views and beliefs – but it would be impossible to fully implement the views and beliefs of every family about what is ‘right and wrong’

And if my own family is typical in any way – then  each member of that family would expect something different, for their own understanding of ‘right and wrong’ to be implemented as setting ethos

Ofsted?

So what is Ofsted’s view of ‘right and wrong’ ? Is it the same for every individual  inspector?

Church?

If so which church? As ‘British Values,’ do the views of the Church of England about ‘right and wrong’ over ride the views of all the other long established churches in England

Government? 

And if so will they not only tell us what is ‘right and wrong’ ? Will they practise what they preach ? If so, will they sack those that don’t do the ‘right thing?’

 

And then these British Values – what point in time do we take as our reference point for ‘British Values’?

Now?  – when so many are selfish individuals – just concerned about what is in it for them. When many communities are not actually communities but just a number of people who live in the same area

Recent past? – When it was ‘ok’ to smack children. When women were not seen as equal to men.  When people who were ‘different’ were not treated with respect

Distant past ? When the rich did want they liked – and when they liked – just because they could. When flogging was allowed. When human rights were not heard of?

Or some other point in time? I really struggle to pinpoint that moment in time when British Values were so good that we should hold them up as ‘something desirable’ to recreate.

But maybe others disagree and can tell me just what moment in time British Values were so good?

 

News stories report that early years settings should teach children to challenge negative and stereotypical  views – I  struggle with that one – how is a child expected to do that – and show respect for others and understand differences between themselves and others?

It requires a huge amount of knowledge and understanding of the world, to even recognise that what they are hearing or seeing is negative or stereotypical.

Yes I fully agree that adults should challenge – but only when it is safe for themselves and the children in their care to do so – sometimes the challenge can not be immediate and sometimes other professional support is needed to challenge some views or actions, and sometimes despite personal desire to challenge, it is best not to because challenging can make things much worse and so it is better to walk away (but challenge through other means)

In my opinion the Secretary of State for Education is tackling this the wrong way, and although well intentioned – and no doubt under pressure to ‘do something’ the measures announced could ‘stir the hornets nest’, and unintentionally cause schools and early years settings to worry about just what it is they are suppose to implement , and to worry that if they do not ‘do it right’ that Ofsted will down grade them – or worse that they will lose funding.

Personal  Practice – BUT is it ‘right’? 

I  personally have  a very strong sense of ‘right and wrong’  – my views about equality have been acknowledged by others to be grounded in common sense and a very realistic understanding of people .

I have challenged other adults over equality issues over many years – for example – why there is a need for ‘a list of  people / things’, in a policy because in having that list you will always unintentionally exclude some and label others. By INCLUDING  ALL  and ENABLING ALL , you should mean ALL and apply that to every thing.

My personal view is that in everything there are similarities and differences – and in my work with the children I care for, I know that I can not possibly  include all cultures or all religions or all types of homes and so on – and further by only covering a few of these aspects, I run the risk of unintentionally giving the impression that these religions / cultures /festivals /  ways of life are the most important  / the only ones that have to bother about.

If I was told that I should cover x, y,z within my curriculum and not cover a, b, c – I would personally consider that to be very bad practice – and possibly extremist in its own right because very narrow, very restricted.

It is my belief that I should focus on festivals and ways of life that are reflected by the children and families using my childminding service ; so if I had a Chinese family using my childminding service, I would celebrate Chinese New Year and other Chinese festivals, however as it happens I don’t   at the moment, but I do have a Polish family and so we celebrate some Polish festivals – such as St. Nicholas Day- and so on. In fact I ask all the families of the children in my care, what festivals they celebrate at home and how they celebrate – in my opinion that is working in partnership and avoids tokenism and assumptions.

And before anyone jumps up and down and criticises my practice – please be reassured I have vast amounts of books, puzzles, dressing up, role play, etc.  that represent different people, families, homes, abilities and so on – and they are always available  as part of the continuous provision.

What I am talking about is the things I focus on, that I plan to include.

I personally think that when the children are older and are more secure in who they are, as an individual, within a family and community sense, they will then be able to take on more complex issues.

However, what I can do (and do, do)  is give the children the skills to observe, and consider similarities and differences – in EVERYTHING, so that they are able to use those skills to understand those more complex issues when they are older.

So the fruit in the fruit bowl; the clothes we wear; the houses we live in, the animals on the farm (who by the way all speak ‘different languages’, eat different foods, live in different ‘houses’  and more); the flowers in the garden; the games we play; the people we see in our community; he shops we go in – and the things in those shops – and more. In my opinion – if a child can say that is the same as me  because ……, and that is different to me, because ….; that is similar to that thing I have experience of because, but it is different because ….. then I have done my job.

And of course the skills are useful in many areas – and in my opinion actually help a child be ‘school ready’ and ‘life ready’

 

I know this approach works – over the years I have cared for around 300 children, who have come from very diverse family backgrounds, and all of them l have developed the skills needed for life in terms acceptance  that we are all different – those in their families, those in  their communities and indeed those in the wider world;

I wonder  how will Ofsted and my LA view my beliefs and my teaching of ‘right and wrong’ and British Values’ – will they think I am doing ‘a good job’ or will the new powers (and therefore guidance) mean that I will be judged to be lacking in these areas?

And two more question;

1) As someone who openly challenges things and speaks up about things that I think are not in the best interest of the children of this country – will I be seen as an ‘extremist’ for not holding the same views as Government?

2) As the Government rarely fully consults, rarely takes notice of the views of others, rarely has any specialist knowledge about the things they are Ministers for – could their view be described as extremist – in that they impose it on the country – just because they think it is right?

I do of course not support any view that harms or potentially harms others, I do not support any view that is not based on research and / or personal experience – which is why I really struggle to support current Government education policy – including this one.

Good intentions are fine but when good intentions turn into practice  that says I am right – you are wrong – and causes harm to others / potenially causes harm to others – is in my opinion – always wrong.

Government please practice what you preach – being a Government Minister does not give you any more right to tell others,  I am right you are wrong – than being a leader of a faith or an organisation does.

Posted August 12, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

One response to “So what is an extremist view? And whose ‘right and wrong’ are early years settings to promote?

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  1. Well said Penny

    Janet and Mik Stovold

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