Conserving Creativity in the Early Years

October 30, 2013 by
Filed under: Fellowship 

The South Central Region of the RSA is holding a series of events aimed at sharing ideas about education. These events are run by and for RSA Fellows with the aims of:

  • Sharing knowledge and ideas about education
  • Meeting and networking with other Fellows
  • Clarifying existing, and provoking new, ideas for potential projects
  • Sharing information on Catalyst funding which could potentially support the growth of the ideas.

On Thursday 17 October, at the Jelly Arts Centre, former Headteacher of Chelsea Open Air Nursery School and Children’s Centre Kathryn Solly gave a presentation and led a discussion on ‘Conserving Creativity in the Early Years.’ This is a guest blog from Kathryn.

SollyMy talk for the RSA South Central Region’s Ideas in Education Series started from the premise that the earliest years of education are the crucial ‘seedbed’ of future learning and development, and hence that the highest quality provision is essential in order to retain and nurture creative future possibilities.

One of the key parts of the evening’s discussion centred upon, what Shirley Brice Heath calls, the choice to provide ‘the kind of learning that comes through direct experience, participation and collaboration’ versus ‘one prolonged stretch of spectatorship.’ Many attendees agreed that there is a need to prevent the narrowing of the Early Years curriculum too soon and to resist an earlier start to formal schooling in primary schools.

We need creativity, in its broadest sense, to permeate all Early Years educational provision. It is about the ability to innovate, and develop ‘possibilities thinking’, which is vital to nurturing future creativity in the work force, innovation and industrial development, as we prepare young children for a world we do not know and for jobs that do not yet exist. 

It is about the ability to innovate, and develop ‘possibilities thinking’.

We need well-educated trainees entering industry and we need for our nation to retain its creative cutting edge.

The OECD states that early childhood learning is in the ‘public good’. Political pressures, and resultant conflicts, are leading to the creation of a premature formal curriculum stressing early literacy and numeracy versus a broader play-based learning approach (which includes developmentally appropriate literacy and numeracy). The latter focuses upon children’s interests and needs and is led by professionals working in close partnership with parents. There was a broad consensus that for many young children who are well supported at home achievement in literacy and numeracy is not an issue. However, for many summer-born children, and those with individual needs and disabilities, emergent literacy and numeracy are best achieved in contexts where they make sense to children as part of their self-chosen play.

I would be interested in discussing further, with attendees and Fellows, the critical importance of creative Early Years education– both facilitating it and the challenges faced by the professionals trying to support the appropriate development of our youngest citizens, whose voices are rarely heard.

Find out more about the campaign against developmentally inappropriate learning at: ‘Too Much, Too Soon’.

You can contact Kathryn Solly via email at kathryn.solly@btinternet.com.

Book now for upcoming events in the Ideas Education series:

6 November 2013: Ideas in Education: Revolutionising access to science and research through technology, Portsmouth

14 November 2013: Ideas in Education: Planning Educational Spaces, Winchester

5 December 2013: Ideas in Education: DIY higher education in the global swamp? Oxford

To find out more contact Fellowship Councillor for South Central Bethan Michael.

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