Good evening fellow Instructors, Program Administrators, Families and our honoured guests – the ECE class of 2012.
I am delighted to be here to share this momentous evening with you. A moment in your life that you have worked hard for, made sacrifices to accomplish and are rightly anxious to celebrate.
As someone who has walked parts of this journey with some of you, I rejoice in the ways you have embraced your learning, have asked hard questions, have thought deeply about philosophy, best practices, curriculum ideas, guiding and caring……. The ways you have learned to dance and sing and tell stories and set up learning invitations for children, how to work with families, how to observe and record, how to be safe and serve good snacks.
When we think back through all the courses, all the individual classes your dedicated instructors developed and delivered to you, it forms an impressive list of topics. Add to that the hours you have spent with mentors in the field doing practica and all the things you learned in those placements….another set of impressive checklist of topics covered.
As your teachers and mentors we may stand back and feel a sense of accomplishment ourselves. That we were able to impart sufficient knowledge to you such that you stand here tonight to proudly graduate from the ECE program.
BUT it is nothing more than a long list of pre-requisites and assignments and observations and workbooks and evaluations ….. a whole lot of head knowledge that will perhaps start you on your journey as an ECE.
Very soon you may come to a dead end, an unsatisfying and dull place, a place of rules and rigidity, a place of boredom and frustration……
Unless you take from this program a deep and profound curiosity.
A curiosity about yourself. About what it will take for you to be that extraordinary version of yourself that changes lives. Changes your own life by your deeply reflective thinking about your work, your relationships, your vision and your values.
A curiosity about your work. About what it takes to be an educator who delights in the daily gifts offered up to you by the children and families and colleagues you work with. A curiosity that sees around barriers, that seeks to see strengths before dwelling on weaknesses, that seeks creative collaboration and reflective dialogues to grow your work. A curiosity that leaves you hungry to go deeper and be more present and raise the bar for best practice.
A curiosity about families. About their hopes and dreams for their children. About the treasures they bring to you in their different cultures, traditions and celebrations. A curiosity about how to nurture their children together in a supportive partnership of respect and communication. A curiosity that allows you to wonder with them about the joys and the challenges they face and we face together.
A curiosity about children, about a child. A deep curiosity about what a child is thinking and feeling, about their theories, their questions, their strengths. To be curious with them about the world, their world. It’s a big and complicated world and for you to be their trusted adult and guide to authentically wonder about the world with them is a gift, a joy, a sense of profound safety and a way to grow and learn.
The course work is necessary. It had to be done. There is “stuff” to know and remember and do. But if in that work you have not learned to be deeply curious or, worse still, you have buried or lost your curiosity in course work and assignments….. I urge you in the days and weeks ahead to find it, to rekindle that fire in your heart that pointed you in the direction of this course. Reconnect your head with your heart and then connect them both to the work of your hands and feet.
This is important work you have chosen, work that changes lives, work that could and should change yours.
Do this work with all of yourself and remain forever curious……and that will make you an extraordinary educator and the world will be blessed because you came to this place and did this work.
Congratulations ECE Class of 2012.