Do contact us with your suggestions for new articles - and we really appreciate comments and other feedback.
By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.sightlines-initiative.com/
My name is Ben Rogers. I am a recent graduate from the in North Tyneside School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) course in the north England, and I am seeking a full-time post.
Before pursuing primary education my undergraduate degree was in philosophy and fine art studio practice. My thesis was on the theory of play with creative work and imagination, complementing my art work across media including printmaking, sculpture, photography, performance and mark making.
From this I was lucky to have worked overseas in the Netherlands, the United States, Japan and Australia with other artists. Returning to the UK I studied to work in Key Stage One and Key Stage Two primary school settings. A lot of my course was on practical placement with continuous provision and gave me chances to work across classes including with early years. Under the current circumstances I was able to witness first hand how student-focused education has benefits across the whole of primary. While on placement I started to find my voice as a teacher and try to promote open-ended thinking, creating dialogue between students and teaching staff and took advantage of outdoor learning spaces.
Throughout the pandemic I have had a chance to work on site and during the lockdowns used my time to study the national curriculum and better understand the Reggio Approach and allied pedagogies. Sightlines Initiative has been very helpful at supporting theory that I am then able to bring into my practice as a supply teacher.
I was drawn to the Reggio Approach 'family' of learning because it intersects my interests of radical thinking and a dialogic approach to making and learning. It helps to think holistically and socially and I try to lead by example: I am interested in environmental issues, supporting a climate strike at my last school, building allotments and engaging the natural world. I also understand the importance of building confidence in children in critiquing media so that they can find their own voice and interests. And finally in my classrooms I always like to learn the languages and the cultures of the children in my care to establish an international welcoming classroom.
I am looking for full time work and willing to relocate, having recently graduated in England I have Early Career Teacher (ECT) status.
Thank you - Ben
"Better a broken bone than a broken spirit." So runs the mantra for adventure playgrounds - as coined by the woman who did more than anyone to establish them in the UK, Lady Marjory Allen.
This half-hour radio/podcast article is Seriously worth listening to whilst it's available (it is available for 26 days from Friday 17th September):
There are many powerful and compelling interviews - from children and grown-up children, parents, playleaders and instigators, including from Lady Marjory Allen, the 1930's instigator of English Adventure Playgrounds (you can also hear more from Lady Allen here on Tim Gill's Rethinking Childhood.)
In these current days of ours, an increasing aversion to risk means these places designed for children to swing from ropes, jump from trees and generally run free are in trouble. Many of them have been either shut down or re-purposed - a trend only made worse by local authority funding cuts.
Josie Long thinks this is a terrible situation. Adventure playgrounds, she argues, have never played a more important role, with children ushered from bubble to bubble between home and school, after decades in which active and seemingly hazardous play has been undermined. But are adventure playgrounds much safer in their own way than the 'toyland whimsy' offered by conventional playground designs where children don't learn to assess risk?
Josie talks to Michael Rosen about how much more creative the play offered by adventure playgrounds can be, encouraging independence and developing vital social and psychological skills alongside an amazing amount of fun. She spends two days among the children and play workers at the Baltic Street Adventure Playground in the East End of Glasgow, seeing first-hand the incredible and radical difference such a space can offer - not just to the individual children but also the community at large.
The state of education is in a maelstrom, and children, educators and families with it.
Not only the terminologies, but the organisation, habits and environments are also shaped by this discourse. England has one of the poorest minimal standards for educational environments in Europe – if knowledge transfer is the chief definer of desirable education then smaller spaces are adequate – children need to be uniform, passive, obedient and receptive. Programmes of rote-learning are commercial and are pushed as 'effective' and 'efficient.' The situation is diagnosed by many – Professor Peter Moss, Sir Ken Robinson and increasingly parents who have withdrawn their children from school.
We know that learners are not passive receptors. Children are born lively, curious, dynamic, sociable, expectant, creative – in Professor Colwyn Trevarthen's words 'humans (children) are born seeking relationship.' It follows that the education we construct, with the tools of time, organisation, space, professionalism should support this basic human zest, not constrain from the narrowing external concerns about 'upskilling tomorrow's workforce.' But it is a construct – and the lived reality of schools and early childhood centres is of course very nuanced, with many heads, staff groups, managers, committed to 'getting it right'. But it remains a muddle, and it is draining the natural energies of children, and of educators, and is a worry to many parents.
- What are ways in which we can resource and support children in enlivening their curiosity, confidence, daringness, absorption, questioning, exhilaration?
- What are ways we can find to bring these children together to discuss, agree and disagree? To engage in significant learning groups, delving into important ideas, experience and construction of knowledge?
- What are ways in which we can enable their sociable autonomy and rightful importance as citizens?
This is the aim of our summer series 'Learning to Live Well Together' of six internationally-renowned contributors, which begins on 6th July (we also have a complementary introductory session on the 29th June.)