Artists at the Centre


Fragile Moments
This article shares examples of surprises - things we might not have thought could happen with very young children - and links these stories of surprises to skills and capacities, dispositions and knowledge that these professional artists have brought to our programs.

This article was published in Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Exchange, Vol 14, No.2, Spring 2007, pp 13 - 21. For more information about this journal, and about a seminar series, contact Judith Allen Kaminsky at Wayne State University through their website

Carol Anne Wien and Karyn Callaghan

To download a pdf version of "
"Fragile Moments": Artists Co-Constucting Creative Experience with Children, Parents and Early Childhood Educators" click here: FragileMoments.pdf

From Policing to Participation: Overturning the Rules and Creating Amiable Classrooms
Four early childhood educators and two professors took part in the discussions that form the basis for this article: Karyn Callaghan, Bobbie Jo Gramigna, Brenda Gardiner, Laurie Jeandron, and Melita Veinotte.

This article was published in the January 2004 issue of Young Children, the journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Vol 59, No 1, pp 34 - 40.

Carol Anne Wien

To download a pdf version of "
From Policing to Participation: Overturning the Rules and Creating Amiable Classrooms" click here: FromPolicingTo-CA-Wien.pdf

Nurturing the Enthusiasm and Ideals of new Teachers through reflective practices
This article was originally published in Canadian Children, the journal of the Canadian Association for Young Children, Spring 2002, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp 38 - 41

Karyn Callaghan

The first job for a new graduate is a time of powerful learning. Ideally, it presents the opportunity to try out ideas that have been generated based on the reading, discussion and experiences they have had in their course work and on field placements. They can then use the knowledge gained from their own and their new colleagues’ experience to inform their future efforts. Programs and schools can benefit from the fresh ideas and enthusiasm that rookies can bring. They can help us to remember why we chose this profession.

Unfortunately, socialization away from innovative or theory-based practices occurs for many students during their field placements, and for rookie teachers during their induction year, if their co-operating teachers or teaching partners do not use or support such practices. The rationale given for decisions is simply "That’s the way we do it here". The rookie then adopts a survival mentality that is antithetical to growth for all involved. It has been said that teacher ideals drop as much as 85% during the first year of teaching. Recently publicized findings from a Canadian study called "You Bet I Care" indicated that a high number of early childhood educators flee the profession early in their career (Philp, 2000). Although low wages undoubtedly play a role in this, perhaps disillusionment is part of the picture. Herbert Simon (in Schon, 1983) presented a view that professional work involves change and designing things to be better. If we are to develop as a profession and make the real world better, this loss of new grads and the stagnation of some of those who stay are issues we must face.

"Forget what you are being taught at the college. This is the real world". I have taught Early Childhood Education at a community college for eighteen years. These words had been said by a co-operating teacher to a student I was supervising on field placement several years ago, and I have heard them many times since. I was taken aback. It is no small irony that oftentimes the teachers who are saying this are our own graduates, while demonstrating practice that falls short of high quality and contradicts what they were taught – graduates who, as students, expressed concern about what they were seeing in centres on their placements. This would seem to support the view that there is a strong tendency toward protecting the status quo: tomorrow’s teachers are mentored by today’s (Goodlad, 1990). In some cases, where the educators are superb, this may be good news. However, in other cases, it is cause for despair. It is important for educators to consider the role they play in the mentoring and support of new teachers. We lose opportunities for development within our classrooms and as a profession if some graduates abandon the tenets of good practice they learned as students of education, and become part of a mould they had condemned, rather than helping to change the mould. How can we support new graduates so that their ideals are not lost? Teachers who strive to do this may, in the process, sustain or rediscover some of their own ideals. We can all become agents of change.

Although they may be idealistic, students and new grads are aware of the political issues surrounding childcare. They know that it is severely underfunded, and that this takes a toll. There are certainly elements of quality that are directly affected by this. However, the practices which students find to be unacceptable but are told are "the real world" are linked not to funding but rather to respect for children, and are within the control of the individual teachers. We have discussions in class about respecting children’s feelings, but too often they hear children being told, "Put your tears away." We talk about children’s tremendous creative potential.....continued...

Karyn Callaghan is a professor of early childhood education at Mohawk College in Hamilton Ontario.

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Nurturing the Enthusiasm and Ideals of new Teachers through reflective practices" click here: NurturingEnthusiasm.pdf

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