Some Early Childhood Insights from Ireland

As I explored the Dublin Institute of Technology  campus I spent a bit of time in the library and found this  selection of Early Childhood Journals. The feature article in the International Early Years was written by faculty from Dublin City University and Dublin Institute of  Technology. Thus began my week in Ireland!

 

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I have spent a most exciting week in Dublin, Ireland meeting faculty from Dublin City University (DCU)  and the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). What I have learned is that in Ireland there have been recent, sweeping changes that moved teacher’s colleges into the universities. This has led to universities, such as DCU, to offer BA degrees in early childhood education.

My host at DCU  has Dr. Mathias Urban who is also leading the new International Early Childhood Research Center  at DCU. At DIT my hostess has been Dr. Dorit Derring.  DIT has been the institution that has the longest  history in offering  early childhood teacher preparation in Ireland and began by offering the first certificate program.   DCU will graduate it’s first co-hort of BA prepared early childhood teacher in the next year.  Here I am with both Dr. Urban and Dr. Deering outside of their offices.

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Much like the journey of early childhood teacher preparation in the  United States, the preparation of early childhood teachers in Ireland  has followed a different path from that of primary or elementary teacher preparation.  In Ireland the role of the teacher has been described to me as ‘sacred ground’ However the way this is conceptualized in Ireland does not extend to the role of the early childhood teacher ranks as being on equal par with teachers who work with older children.  I saw this poster in Dr. Urban’s office.  I think it sums up some of the common challenges faced in ECE by many of us.

 

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Dr. Urban had just returned from the Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education Conference in Denmark the day before I arrived. I happened to note that he received a lifetime achievement reward at the conference in tandem Dr. Dahlberg  from Sweden. I asked permission to take a photo of his photo receiving the reward. Congratulations to both! To learn more about this organization go to this link:

http://www.receinternational.org/about.html#sthash.kYQbIojL.1XGLPIvB.dpbs

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Although the time was short, both Dr. Urban and Dr. Deering made it possible for me to meet a number of ‘movers and shakers’  in early childhood education in Ireland.  I have much to process from all of the interviews. What I tell you is that there was a great deal of experience, passion and commitment from everyone I met.

Dr. Deering has been asked to be on the board for the  Irish Infant Mental Health board. We met with two of the new board members. The board recently adopted the competencies from the USA that we use in our Minnesota IMH.   As part of the Irish IMH circle, Dr. Deering introduced me to  Diedra – who is an advanced nurse practioner. She has established mental health services for parents and babies in the Royal Maternity Hospital charting a course for a new type of professional position to address IMH.

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Pictured with Dr. Urban are Colette and Grainne.  Colette has done very interesting work in advocating for Travellers ( a group that is disadvantaged and discriminated against) families in Ireland. Grainne who is a a lecturer at DCU.

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The are but a few of the wonderful, passionate folks I met this past week. More to come! Grainne is not only a passionate early childhood teacher educator, but she is also a talented musician. She invited me to a pub to hear Irish music in  which she plays  the fiddle with a group of friends in a pub.  I got to sit on a ‘wee little chair’ right next to her and the banjo player.. It was so kind of her to invite me! I will leave you with this picture of Grainne tuning her fiddle and a link so you might also hear some authentic Irish music!  Enjoy!

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