Good ways of approaching preschool education exist and I am so happy I just observed one of these! It’s good to have nice colleagues at university who are young mothers: they can get you in theirs son or daughter’s classroom 🙂
In Ghent, (BE), preschools are mostly public settings, free of charge. Besides the traditional preschools (eg: catholic preschools), alternative education is proposed in the neighborhood or close to families with young children. I had the chance to spend one morning in a Freinet’s pedagogy preschool and to observe children and teachers during their daily activities.
I must say it was a pleasant surprise for me to discover several aspects related to a pedagogical approach that takes into account children’s point of view. I will name a few:
- children get to choose what workshop to participate to (arts, linguistic etc);
- children propose and participate to their own projects;
- children give feedback on the work their classmates did in order to identify challenges and the way to overcome them (e. g. : a girl drew a panda today, and her classmates noticed it didn’t have the right number of legs; together with the teacher, and based on a concrete example – a panda bear toy – they arrived at the right answer)
- children learn in spontaneous ways and by discussing elements that happen in the daily life (e.g. : hearing a sound of an ambulance from outside, one boy wants to know what it is; children give answers and teacher completes them )
- children’s mess is not an issue! (e. g. : doing arts with liquid paint can be very messy, especially for 3 years old children; but the teacher doesn’t seem to be bothered – she helps them cleaning up)
There are many other examples. These practices are based on Célestin Freinet’s approach. The principles he proposed as an alternative education for children are the following:
– Pedagogy of Work (Pédagogie du travail) – meaning that pupils learned by making useful products or providing useful services.
– Co-operative Learning (Travail coopératif) – based on co-operation in the productive process.
– Enquiry-based Learning (Tâtonnement expérimental) – trial and error method involving group work.
– The Natural Method (Méthode naturelle) – based on an inductive, global approach.
– Centres of Interest (Complexe d’intérêt) – based on children’s learning interests and curiosity. (History of Freinet Pedagogy, Gerald SCHLEMMINGER, University of Paris XI)
For more info about the Belgium (Flemish Community) education: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/fpfis/mwikis/eurydice/index.php/Belgium-Flemish-Community:Overview
In France, and other countries, PhD candidates have the possibility to apply for scholarship for an international mobility in a country they choose. In my case it’s Belgium, and I had the opportunity to integrate Prof. Michel Vandembroeck’s team at the Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, at Ghent University. Besides the nice people and the good working environment in this Faculty, the great part is that here I have enriching exchanges with professors and colleagues related to the subject of my thesis – early childhood education and cultural diversity.
Photo by Carmen C. Draghici, Library of Ghent University
If the main objective of this mobility is to have insights on my research topic from an international point of view and a comparative one, there are also other tasks and activities I have to complete. These are part of the « socialization » inside the host university and they can consist in formal or informal activities such as:
- group meeting on publication
- migration group discussion
- exchanges with colleagues on similar topics or methods
- meeting with the promoter on issues related to your project
- borrowing books from the Faculty’s library
- reading papers written by your colleagues
- learning how to recharge the coffee machine of the department’s kitchen (still not able to!) and other practicalities in the daily life of a PhD candidate in Ghent
What a great opportunity to do an internship in a successful organization like vbjk Center for Innovation in the Early Years! Besides working on early childhood, this organization has several projects on education and migration issues, topics that are central in my PhD thesis. Project management training and being involved in one project are my two aims as an intern at VBJK.
Action research on how to work with children and their parents from ethnic minority background is one of the main themes of VBJK, which is a research center certified by the Federal Government. It started in 1986 with action research projects.
An action research project on accessibility of early childhood education and care is implemented by VBJK in Brussels (2004- today) in order to improve accessibility of child care centers for newcomers (refugees and newly arriving immigrants) who were taking languages courses, integration courses or and other training. Besides this project funded by the Brussels Regional government, VBJK also coordinates 2 intervision trajectories, commissioned by Kind en Gezin, for the pedagogical co-ordinators of umbrella organisations in daycare, with the focus on diversity and inclusion.
VBJK collaborated on a report, published by Eurofound, on accessibility and quality of services. The report describes good practices gathered in the form of case studies that have been evaluated and that describe additional resources for the inclusion in mainstream ECEC services of children with disabilities or learning difficulties, those in a vulnerable social situation and those who belong to disadvantaged groups. You can read the report here.
During my first days of my international mobility as a PhD candidate in Ghent, Belgium, I had the possibility to visit The Children’s Rights Knowledge Centre (KeKi). This non-profit organization, financed by the Flemish government, aims to gather, make available, disseminate and stimulate knowledge about children’s rights.
Photo by C. Carmen Draghici
With the help of a young and enthusiastic team (see photo), Kathy Vlieghe, the coordinator of KeKi developed a vision based on 4 principles: scientific research based activities, interdisciplinary approach and critical-emancipatory of children’s rights and balance between involvement and distance.
Photo by C. Carmen Draghici
This organization aims to embrace a broad vision on children’s rights, which, among other things, takes into account the children’s voice.
For more info see http://www.keki.be/en. They have a large data base available on-line, don’t hesitate to check it!
HOW TO BUILD AN ACADEMIC CAREER?Insights from the transatlantic IMISCOE PhD Summer School 2016, Princeton University
This year I had the great opportunity to attend the first transatlantic IMISCOE PhD Summer school, organised by IMISCOE and Princeton University, which took place between 7th -13th of August 2016. One of the sessions was held as a discussion with Professor Marco Martiniello (see link), and Professor Maurice Crul (see link) on the topic of the academic career. The discussion started with the advises provided from their own experience of academic path, and this blog post is meant to share some of them.
Photo by C. Carmen Draghici: PhD summer school, Princeton University, Wallace building
So, what are the steps to take, or the rules to follow for as successful career? There is no miracle solution or perfect way to achieve an academic career! But here are the main ideas that you should take into account when building an academic career that the two professors shared with the PhD students during summer school:
- Originality : think of your own project « What do I want to be seen by others as an expert? »
- Networking : keep in touch with academic circles, where you can hear about job opportunities
- Have something to say in the public domain (e.g : migration is a societal aspect)
- Be hard-working
- Take advantage of opportunities when they arise
- Be socially and politically committed (try to change something in this world)
Ans some other tips:
- Accept job positions even if they don’t fit at 100% with your research topic and interests (you need to pay your rent!)
- Not always do what people tell you to do, follow your own ideas and projects
- Develop your own line of research
- Trust your supervisor, but not at 100% (it’s your thesis!)
- Be aware of your responsibility – work also for the people where you live
- Make personal choices : big or small university, permanent or temporary position, different locations etc
- Take into account side projects
- Quitting is not an option!
- Don’t be satisfied, always look for new challenges, new projects! Be enthusiast!
- PhD is a resource also outside academia (e.g.: ONG)
Now that you have secrets revealed, good luck in finding the ideal job in the academia!
The time to go to Calais for the doctoral internship is coming soon, so I am trying to get ready for it. If at the beginning I was kind of stressed and anxious about the security issues in « the jungle » ( the name for the slums at Calais ), I am getting more and more reassurance by finding out the details of our fieldwork. The organisers (two professors of INALCO, Paris) decided to get us involved in the activities of the associations that are already working with the refugees in the camps. There are 80% Anglophone associations, and the one I will be a volunteer for is Women and Children’s Center .Lead by Liz Clegg, they run daily activities, provide essential care, supplies and services necessary to support children, women and babies. I will have the possibility to meet there women and children – especially young unaccompanied child refugees, often coming from Afghanistan, certain Syrian families, and young women from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq. According to Prof Alexandra Galitzine, one of the leaders of our research team, the Women & Children’s Center (W&CC) is run by people who are very familiar with the camp, and it is a safe place. There is a convivial atmosphere, although the camp traumas can also be noticed.
There are two main activities that I will be able to attend and participate to. Firstly, the Beauty Day, held on Saturdays, is reserved only for women and girls (no man admitted). It is a special time for the women in the camp who want to take care of themselves: nail painting is one of the main activities during this time. Since I have some experience as a hairdresser, and I really like nail painting, I think I could make good use of my skills in the camp, while being a participant observer as a researcher.
Secondly, the center has a double decker bus inside « the jungle ». According to the center’s volunteering document, the top deck of the bus fonctions as an educational playspace for children under the age of 10. Here they organise classes and games and other educational activities. These will be a good opportunity for me to benefit from my long experience with young children in intercultural contexts and from my volunteer work with Roma children in the Parisian slums at the street library workshop.
I am looking forward to volunteer at W&CC in Calais!