I am an Early Years teacher who has worked in a number of nurseries in the South Manchester area. I teach across all the Childhood Studies Programmes, at both undergraduate and post graduate level,.
My PhD thesis focused on argumentation and the importance of young children articulating their ideas in the learning of science.
Argumentation theory, or argumentation, is the
interdisciplinary study of how conclusions can be reached through logical
reasoning; that is, claims based, soundly or not, on premises. It includes the
arts and sciences of civil debate, dialogue, conversation, and persuasion.
According to Vygotsky, (as cited in Wertsch, 1985,) “It is
in argumentation, in discussion, that the functional moments appear that will
give rise to the development of reflection”. According to Cole et al (1978),
Vygotsky believed that it is in co-operation and discussion with peers and the
more able others that we externalise internal ideas and so develop our
understanding. Thought, he argues, is
intrinsically linked to both language and communication.
A tool utilised in my doctorial research was the Concept
Cartoon as devised by Brenda Keogh and Stuart Naylor. Concept cartoons are drawings that represent
a visual argument, using a cartoon-style format. The characters in a concept
cartoon all have different ideas that are shown in speech bubbles. Learners are
invited to join in the conversation and offer their own ideas to challenge or
support those proffered by the characters.
Towards a Brighter Future
I teach because it is my job, - and I feel privileged to have a job that is very nearly synonymous with my passion for learning. I teach in a University, because it puts me in a place in society where competing ideas are encouraged, not feared, where we cherish the contest between ideas more than the victory of our own. I teach because it is one of the quickest ways of finding out what I don't know; it makes me alert to possibilities. And I teach to create new possibilities.
I am a firm believer in social mobility, social justice and equality of opportunity.
I believe that there is incontrovertible evidence that the earliest years of a child life matter most. As a qualified Early Years Practitioner (or Nursery Nurse as I was called then) I worked in a number of day nurseries in the South Manchester Area. It didn’t take long for me to develop the conviction that too many toddlers are merely being warehoused by minimum-waged semi-trained nursery assistants who themselves failed at school. Excellent practice was going unnoticed, and unrewarded, amongst the mediocre and frankly inept.
My personal mantra is “Education for Social Change”. I hope and believe that through my work with students I can encourage them to become the kind of insightful, proactive and inspirational practitioners that the children’s workforce requires.
I try to encourage students to be active, rather than passive members of their culture and society. I want them to come to understand that to be human is to be a creator as well as a creature of this world. I want to build a shared appreciation; that the conditions of our own humanity are the conditions of humanity as a whole; that we are essentially no freer than the least free among us; that our well-being is dependent upon the well-being of others; and that if we accepted those premises, we can, and must, work to make a better world.
To this aim I encourage reflection on the current state of practice and to develop awareness of how and why we, as practitioners, think and act as we do. I like to explore the historical, philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of practice. I hope to convey to students the joys of critical thinking, a way of being in the world that may not give much comfort but one that makes life interesting. I hope to show them that in caring passionately for ideas, one has to make room for the possibility of being wrong. I want them to know that I am critical, not because I think life is not worth living but, because I think it is worth living better.
I want to change the world. I may not be able to do that directly by teaching, but maybe I can inspire those who will. Working with students is my chance to become part of a processthrough which people learn that they do not have to accept the world as it is, that their futures are not given, and that we can all find our own voice, and, in our own ways, reshape the future of ourselves and the children in our care.
'The future is not some place we are going, but one we are
creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making
the changes both the maker and the destination”
(John Schaar 1981)
National Diploma Caring (Nursery Nursing) (1992) City College Manchester
Primary Education (with environmental science) and QTS (1999) MMU