Thanks for joining me on my sabbatical adventure!
These are some of the lovely images I had as I entered the Froebel Gage at Roehampton University. Roehampton is home to the Frobel College and has both and undergraduate and graduate programs in Early Childhood Studies.
My goal was to connect with the faculty of the Early Childhood Studies Program and visit the Froebel Archive. There was a bit of a twist as within five minutes of arriving there was a fire alarm. We needed to move outside very quickly….so we began introductions while standing outside waiting for the ‘all clear’. Here are the first four faculty members I met:
One of the most striking things for me was the incredible international representation of both students and staff in both the undergraduate and graduate programs met with faculty from the UK, Portugal, Denmark, China, Italy and Columbia.
Another thing that was very striking to me was that we all on the ‘same page’ when it comes to key concepts such as the importance of play, attachment, early mental health. There is also a shared concern about the pressure to engage in ‘schoolification’ and how this focus can devalue play as an essential learning mode. I had the opportunity to join Dr. Sophia Guimares (from Portugal) in teaching her module on on Babies and Toddlers are Partners.
The students in her course are in their fist year as early childhood students. It was exciting to see how Dr. Guimaries approached the teaching of Attachment Theory. As you can see the lecture hall is remarkably beautiful. It is in the Grove House which was acquired in 1900’s to become the home of the Froebel College. The session took place in the Portrait Room as it has many portraits on the beautiful wood walls accented by the high ceilings and chandeliers. It was an absolutely stunning room.
Here is the description of the undergraduate program found on the Roehampton/Froebel website:
- Roehampton is internationally renowned for its work in Early Childhood Studies. With a team of highly-regarded tutors who are experts in their specialism, you will learn from some of the best in the field.
- This programme will empower you with the knowledge and skills, confidence and resilience to act as an advocate for babies, young children, their families and communities. You will develop an understanding of policy and practice and learn to engage in critical inquiry and problem solving around key issues in early childhood. Looking at the intellectual, emotional, physical, social and cultural experiences of young children, you will learn about promoting understanding and respect for young children and their families.
The Graduate School Program description:
- Roehampton’s School of Education has a historical association with Froebel College which was founded in 1892. As a result, the programme is supported by the renowned Froebel Archive for Childhood Studies, and has developed an international reputation in the field attracting students at postgraduate level from around the world
- Students become part of the early childhood research centre with its internationally highly respected research team.
- Students graduate with a high level of knowledge and expertise in early childhood and strengthened confidence to contribute to, and advance in their chosen career.
In the evening I was invited to join, Dr. Sigrid Brogaard-Clausen (from Denmark) in her graduate level session on Professionalism, Leadership and Well-Being. The students attending this class were literally from all over the world. Columbia, El Salvador, China, Greece, Poland, Somalia and of course the United Kingdom. The discussion were rich with perspectives.
Dr. Broogaard-Clausen’s lecture focused on her research in democratic living and well-being. We reviewed summaries from various countries to note how well-being was defined. Seligman’s (2011) five dimensional framework was referenced as a way to frame well-being: positive emotions. engagement, relationships. meaning and accomplishment. As I found in Iceland, Norway and Ireland – concepts such as these were also linked back to the UN Rights of the Child is embedded in each countries early childhood framework . It is important to understand that the United States has not signed onto the the UN Rights of the Child.
One of the activities was to discuss our personal principals in the field of early childhood education in small groups. This was the lead up to students submitting a written statement of principals. This was the wonderful small group I sat with during the evening – my group members were from the UK, Columbia, El Salvador and Saudi Arabia.
I was fortunate to be at Roehampton for a special lecture by Dr. Maggie Haggerty from New Zealand.
Dr. Haggerty presented her research on transitions. She also addressed the concern of those in New Zealand of the move towards what she termed “learnification”. She showed video clips from her research demonstrating the importance of peer interactions and play alongside of support from teachers to have children explore, ask questions and engage in problem solving.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
While on campus I was hosted by three wonderful, gracious women who shared their offices with me and ensured I was introduced to the Early Childhood Studies team. Below you will see their pictures and bios.
- Dr Fengling Tang (from China) is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies. Her research interests include childhood culture, early childhood curriculum and pedagogy, ethnicity and racial issues in education, technology with young children, Froebelian perspectives in early years, comparative research in early childhood, ethnographic research in education, EAL in early childhood, creativity in early childhood, and research in teacher training education.
- Dr Sofia Guimarães(from Portugal) is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies. Her current main research interests include bilingualism and multilingualism, literacy acquisition and children’s emotional wellbeing and learning.
- Valeria Scacchi PhD Research Student (from Italy) is working on her dissertation research entitled: ‘Reconceptualising professional development in Early Childhood Education and Care’. She is also very interested in infants and toddlers so you can imagine we had good conversation.
I met briefly with Dr. Peter Elfer one of the faculty team who is also a member of World Association of Infant Mental Health.It was fascinating to learn about his research. Here is an overview of his work: He is particularly interested in attachment and peer interaction in this setting and how psychoanalytical tools can be used to explore this relationship. His doctoral research concerned the nature of nursery cultures and their impact on individuals and interactions. The aim was to see whether particular patterns of management are associated with particular outcomes for children.research involved spending time in infant nurseries to understand the dynamics between the babies, their caregivers – and caregivers and parents.
Visiting the Froebel Archive
My final goal was realized when Kornelia hosted my visit to the Froebel Archive. Kornelia showed me samples of work done by the early students in the Froebel College and a very interesting Treasure Basket made by one of the students. It was rewarding to talk with her about the value of the collection and the impact Froebel had on the education of young children all around the world. There is a link to all of the archive materials that have been digitized. Here is the link:
Finally, for those reading this blog who are involved in early childhood , I have a question. How Froebelian are you in your practice?
As I reviewed Froebels principles, I realized how much of an impact Froebel’s ideas have had on my own thinking and practice. I would love to hear how you view thee principles in relation to your own thinking and practice. There is a very nice overview at this link sponsored by the British Association of Early Childhood Education.