Welcoming strangers into our work

A year ago London Bridge was approached by a new professor at Western University. This professor, Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, arrived at the Faculty of Education via the University of Victoria and was looking for a child care centre to visit. Her research, focused on the early years, requires thinking with young children. We said yes to her request, welcoming her into our centres and into meetings. With her came new ideas and theories, ones that pushed us beyond our comfortable base of how we perceive early childhood education.  

London Bridge has been approached again, this time to collaborate with a research project, three years in length, with child care centres in Canada, Ecuador and Australia. With Dr. Pacini-Ketchabaw as our guide, we dive into thinking about how climate change and childhood are intertwined. We are studying waste, food systems and outdoor environments. We are becoming entangled in complexity. 

 our centre leadership team reads through a piece of documentation with dr. v. pacini-ketchabaw

our centre leadership team reads through a piece of documentation with dr. v. pacini-ketchabaw

Part of the complexity the team of researchers and graduate students brings is new language. In small groups across three centres we are now reading lengthy articles from academic journals. For most of us this is a brand new experience, and one that seems daunting. Our minds are being stretched, and dictionaries opened, as we sound out words we've never heard of before.  

This new language, we've been reassured, is not meant to intimidate. Instead we are encouraged to see new words as an invitation to stop and think, to move beyond the common dialogue we use each day and can become desensitized to.  Each new word helps us pull a thread, unraveling and making bigger the world and early childhood field we were first introduced to. We are learning about life in the Anthropocene, and with it comes a recognition of our collective vulnerability.  

We choose to be vulnerable together, welcoming these kind strangers from Western into our lives. We choose to study ourselves, paying close attention to everyday moments of waste and consumption, and also the cycles of nature and concepts of time. We choose to stay with the complexity. As one Educator declared, "it will take more than big words to drop out of the project".  

We're sinking in, slowly. There is no rush. And as we move we'll be sharing this journey with you, too.