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Children of 2010 – What are you prepared to do

What are you prepared to do?

By Lisa Murphy

 

Commentary on the book Children of 2010, edited by Valora Washington and J.D. Andrews, © 1998, published by NAEYC.

 

 

Full disclosure:  This book had been sitting on my shelf for too long.  I finally read it in 2010 instead of when I got it, which was in 1999 (oops).  I plowed through it this past June because I had just purchased Children of 2020 after attending one of Ms. Washington’s talks at the NAEYC PDI (Professional Development Institute) event in Phoenix and I felt I should have some frame of reference before reading her new publication.  I loved that she ended her talk by telling the audience that we (as teachers) need to get to work because she didn’t want to have to write Children of 2030.  Love it!  She’s feisty and direct and an obvious advocate for children.

 

So what’s the book about?

 

Direct from her introduction:  the book addresses some of the issues involved in making democracy work for the next generation of children, who they (in the book) call the Children of 2010.

 

The book is based on a series of dialogues which transpired in the late 1990’s among many early childhood leaders.  Combining stats and research with ideas for best practices, this informative book, albeit, ten years later might be considered a bit “dated,” provides observations, challenges, vision statements and opportunities for reflection for readers.  At the end of the introduction they offer the following suggestions for how to use the book:

 

  • Adapt it
  • Act on it
  • Extend it
  • Integrate it

 

The book ends with a letter for the Children of 2010 composed by the panel members who participated in the dialogues.  A statement toward the end of the book that I found to be a bit unnerving:  In this country it’s easier to buy a gun than to get a library card.

 

 

Some additional points I particularly found interesting are presented here for your reading pleasure:

 

The word “dialogue” comes from two Greek roots that produce the concept of “creating meaning with each other.”  The word “discussion” stems from a Latin word that means “to smash to pieces.”

 

They offered that dialogue produces a microcosm of democracy which includes: disagreement, conflict, compromise, communication, debate and competition.  It is where change occurs. (And boy! Are there some changes that need to be made!  Note: comment and emphasis are mine.)

 

From the book:  “Data can be erroneous even though it is surrounded by the trappings of science.  Depending on how you construct questions and measurement instruments you can predetermine the results.”  From me:  As many of you have heard me say before… follow the money!  Never be afraid to ask: “Who funded the study?”  And honestly, you (we) should be asking this even when a study “proves” a point that we hold dear, reinforces professional dogma or validates personal opinions.

 

There was a section that addressed the media as well.  Both the impact of TV and it’s effect on us as Americans and how to utilize the media in regard to promoting issues relating to children and families.   Issues relating to children are often considered “soft” stories.  And it takes some effort to promote them.  From the book:  “Find out the name of a station’s news director or the newspaper’s editor and introduce yourself to them before you need them so they will already know you when you do!”  From me:  this is good advice!

 

So, you want to start a movement?

 

From the book: Successful practices of movements:

 

  • Cause for commitment
  • Historic roots
  • Coalitions of interest groups
  • Collaborative strategies
  • Alliances
  • Multi-level activity
  • Membership organizations
  • Core activities
  • Simple summary messages
  • A few outstanding leaders
  • Talented experts
  • Children and youth as change agents
  • Broad action
  • Galvanizing events
  • Pivotal books
  • Media exposure
  • “Bad citizen” publicity (the threat of negative publicity to those “against” the movement)
  • Broad revenue base
  • Time

 

SIDEBAR:  this was repeated in not so many words, in a different context a couple weeks ago when I attended the LEAD conference in New Haven, CT.

 

They offered a quote from Horace Mann:  “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

 

“What is it you want to change?” they ask readers.  “Of what will we be ashamed if it is still a problem in 2010?”

 

This is a very very powerful question.  AND IT HAS BEEN DRIVING ME SINCE I READ IT IN THEIR BOOK!  Again, yes, it’s dated.  So modify it and ACT on it:

 

Of what will we be ashamed if it is still a problem in 2020?

 

As early childhood educators we must not only be willing to ask the question, we must generate some answers to it.  Then we need to devise a plan of attack which we are then willing to implement.  But (as said the Bard) “Aye, there’s the rub!”  Joan Lombardi was one of the guest speakers at one of the dialogue sessions.  She noted that, “The early childhood field is too quiet.”  (I would say, too nice.)  She continued, “If people don’t step forward and speak out, and don’t express the vision, other people – those with whom we might disagree – will articulate their vision and dominate the discussion.”

 

True that.

 

So again, I ask, what are you prepared to do?   Of what would you be ashamed if it is still a problem in 2020?  And what are you willing to do now in order to thwart such shame and embarrassment in nine years time?  Are you willing to do it when everyone is watching?  When no one is?

 

It is easy to stand up and be an advocate when everyone in the room is cheering right along with you and someone you trust has got your back. But what if you are the only one in the room?  Would you still be standing?  And if not you, who?

 

 

 

 

 

© Lisa Murphy

Ooey Gooey, Inc.

All rights reserved

 

Written in the tuna can camper van en route to Halliburton, Ontario

October 1, 2010

 

Posted on October 25, 2010

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