Thursday, May 31, 2007

Looking at the world through orange coloured glasses

Sophie and Elanor had swimming sports yesterday. In the course of getting sorted, some goggles were left lying around. E and I(child) have had an interesting time trying on these goggles and looking at the world through them. From E's expression, this was quite a weird experience to start with, but intriguing, and she kept on with them (many turns), and wandering around inside and outside looking at all sorts of things. Finally she was able to put them on by herself too.

I haven't found out how the swimming sports went yet.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I picked up this ride-on in a skip across the road recently. That was just before mum and dad came to stay (for my graduation). The handles weren't attached, but I though dad would be able to fix it - and he did!

I(child) is totally into anything with wheels, so I though she would like it. Actually, most little kids like bikes. She can only just reach the ground to propel it, but she has learned to manage.


I thought I'd better blog a photo of me at my graduation - two weeks ago. (It's been a busy time.) Mum and Dad came up for it. We had a lovely evening, and then went to Strawberry Fare to celebrate.

(The blue and grey hood is for Canterbury Science. I discovered that Victoria hoods have a black lining, but fortunately they had one Canterbury one.)

What stands out in the photo is that Rowena has nearly caught up with me in height!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


This is G playing 'peek-a-boo' with one of the scarves from a basket I keep for the Little Kids. I have about a dozen scarves, and we use them in a number of ways. They make good doll blankets, are good for waving around when dancing to music, and, of course, hiding under. The chiffon ones let the kids get a new view on the world, and seem to be more popular with they aren't used to having their heads covered. (The empty basket also gets turned upside down and used as a hat.)

Just lovely, soft, silky, tactile things!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lovely day here on Saturday

We had a beautiful day here on Saturday. Sophie and Elanor had netball; S, E and Rowena had music; mum, Katie and I went to "Hey George" for coffee (and cake - we don't usually do cake!); Bern is the coach for S's netball team and did lots of yelling from court side for both games (constructive of course!); and I did the grocery shopping with mum.

And that was just before lunch!

After lunch we went to Annie's, then took mum and dad to the airport. Such a pleasure to be out and about on such a calm, warm, autumn day.

And the morning tea was free because mum picked up a $10 note off the footpath (which I was about to step on)!

I also did Grant's 5-grid Sudoku for him which he brought back from a Melbourne paper. Great fun. Now I wonder where I can get those regularly......!

Progress on essay: as of last night I have half an essay, which is pretty good going. Am going to try and get a chuck of the rest done today. I have done all the 'deconstructing and problematising' and now need to build the alternative, positive argument and solution. More fun, but not necessarily easier.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Essay - An Ethics of Care

Still reading for my essay, but I have had a good study day today and I now have an introduction and an outline of each of the paragraphs (more or less). We also went to Annie's for tea, so I made food and had some social time too.

I am reading Dahlberg and Moss "Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education" (I think it's called). Reading about an 'ethics of care', which seems to be part of what I'm getting at for my essay.

Traditional, or universalistic, ethics are based on a rational idea of right and wrong, and the idea that if an action is 'right' for one person to do in a particular situation, then it will be 'right' for anybody else to do in the same sort of situation. It has as an ideal being not emotionally involved, but being dispassionate. Of keeping the situation at arm's length. It is rule based.

In contrast, an ethics of care has been written about by feminist theorists, but is not conceptualised as a 'woman's ethics', but as an approach available to both genders (and children, of course). The ethics of care comes at situations in relational terms and based on concrete and individual situations. What is best to do with these particular people in this particular situation at this time. (This is from memory.) It is not universalistic, as the 'right' thing may be different depending on the actor. It weights up the actor's responsibilities to the various people in the situation (this will include self).

There are two other types of ethics discussed by these authors in this chapter, but tomorrow will do. The point for my purposes is that helping children to think about the 'other' in concrete situations is probably more suitable for their learning, and basing caring actions on values such as 'kindness', rather than a set of abstract rules, resonates better with me. Although, there are rules which have served us well as proxies for moral development. For example "you can't mess up someone else's work/play".

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I keep thinking that I should blog about my reading, but it is a bit confused in my head at the moment. This is a problem because I am supposed to be producing an essay (due in a fortnight).
The structure of the essay is that we are to choose a problem in education (any sort of problem at all), and address it in relation to an evaluative framework to which we are personally committed. (We must justify the framework.) Then we propose a solution.


The problem I am focusing on at present is the way early childhood centres focus on individual learning goals for children, at the expense of developing caring interdependence among the group members, both in child:child relations and child:adult relations. That is, adults do a lot of 'caring' for little children, but it is also important for adults to create a space where children are integral parts of the group, who care for each other, and are aware they can sometimes care for the adults. This requires the adults to be humble and accept child-caring, rather than being 'teacher-ish' and think that adults take the lead in all the good 'learning stuff' that goes on.

(This goes back to my conviction that all learning is relationship based. Usually between people, but also sometimes with, eg, objects.)

My problem (with my reading) is finding other authors who have written about this issue, in order to support my arguments. I have a great author, Nel Noddings, who writes about caring in the context of school, and high school age in particular. I really like lots of her stuff. I have another great book, by Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, which talks about the early childhood centre as a forum where adults and children meet, discuss and carry out community. (That doesn't do it any kind of justice.) In any case, it seems relevant too. I have a third great book, by G. Cannella, who talks about some of the problems with traditional (some of them new-traditional) ways of viewing children and education which are quite limited in conception.

My nagging doubt at the moment is that I am somehow looking for a 'problem' where none actually exists - that I am 'spitting in the wind'!

However, I keep going back to my experience of family life, where each family member, no matter what age, contributes what they are able. Where a child 'helps' to the best of their ability - starting with just keeping you company while you do the job. A toddler can fetch and carry; by the time they are 3 or 4 they are actually drying a reasonable number of dishes; and by 11 can cook a meal without help. Where life is busy and only actually 'works' if everyone pulls together. I think it's essential that if children are going to be in group care or education (which they generally should be for some time before starting at school) that they are able to learn and use skills, caring relations, initiative, to contribute to other children and adults outside the family. I guess it's part of moral development, empathy, agency, and 'give and take'.

I think all this deserves more attention than it gets in the centres I have seen, and some of the reason for this is structural (eg, requirements by ministry of education and ero). So I press on.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cafe review

Speaking about coffee in the previous post, I should blog about cafes when I try a new one. I certainly have favourites, but I have been trying some new cafes recently.

I usually manage a coffee on Saturday morning. We used to have a system where I would take one girl to a cafe each week for some individual mother/daughter time. This has fallen over this year, mainly because the music lessons work out so that we don't spend as much time in Kilbirnie in the morning. They don't have a 1/2 hour gap to have coffee with me in. (OK, I have the coffee and they have a cake/slice!)

The upshot is that I have to go to a cafe on my own.... :-)

I went to a place in a pedestrian mall called something like "love a coffee". It's the one with giant lips as a logo. Date scone and latte. A very friendly waitress - who kept calling me young lady!
This must be worth some brownie points for them. I feel like sending in friends and relatives to check at what point this waitress doesn't think they are 'young'.

Date scone was sold to me by this friendly waitress, but it was overcooked and dry on the outside. Wouldn't recommend. The coffee was ok - just a bit burnt taste, but nice in a tall 'Irish coffee' glass. $3. Quite a busy cafe, including family groups.

Mother's Day morning

I have mum and dad visiting for the week. My graduation for my Dip Teach (EC) is on Wednesday, so they have come up to attend that.

They arrived on an early flight yesterday, and after mass I took them out for brunch. I've been trying to use more of the vouchers from the Entertainment Book before it expires at the end of the month, so we got a discount. The cafe was Epic. We had bacon and eggs with toast ($9) and it was a good size. Dad had a cheesy beans dish for the same price. Coffee was $3 and OK - froth/milk ratio in the latte not quite right for my taste. But the price was good so no complaining.

Then we checked out the vege market on Willis St, which I haven't got around to visiting on a Sunday before. I think I will from now on though, as we got some lovely veges at very good prices.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Google Earth

I've been trying to think of cool stuff to do with broadband. One of the first things was to get Google Earth. (Click here to go to the download page.) You can use it on dial-up, but it's v--e--r--y s--l--o--w.

Google Earth is a programme which lets you zoom in to addresses anywhere on the planet. I think it uses sattelite images and local mapping programmes. Anyway, the detail is much better for the city then country areas. (I tried looking up Granddad's house, and couldn't get it very well at all.) You can date the images if you look at recent changes in your neighbourhood. For example, the bypass is not shown in our city maps. But we have our current car.

It also gives you instructions on how to get from A to B. Try asking for directions from somewhere in Europe to somewhere in America!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Finally got broadband

We have just got broadband on my computer. (The other computers in the house have to wait until we get the wireless kit and connectors to get them connected to it.) I'm having to internet surf - just because I can!

Certainly makes blogging faster. And you still don't have to have anything much to say :-)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

When E woke up she wanted to paint, of course. I had had the paints on the floor - and she immediately sat down beside them! (We had been painting outside on the grass last week, so sitting down is how you paint, naturally.) I had to get a stool to put the paints on to get E to stand up and paint at the easel.

painting with the new easel

This afternoon I got out the paints using the easel I bought at the weekend. It still needs a cabin hook, or something similar, to keep it rigid. (Dad, maybe you could fix that up when you come visit!) But it worked out very well today just as is.

I(child) got first go as she was the first up from her sleep.