Play, Collaborate, Elevate: We Rise by Lifting Others

By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. One of the greatest joys that I have had in my long career in early childhood education is as of a result of the opportunities to engage with others in professional learning. Many years ago, in conversation with friends Evette Serota, Rosalba Bortolotti and Heather Jackson in the park outside the famous Diana School in Reggio Emilia, Italy I became committed to co-creating professional learning opportunities that would be collaborative, emergent and transformative. From Lev Vygotsky, I know that it is through others that we develop into ourselves. I am a social constructivist. I believe as Vygotsky did that social interaction supports the development of cognition. Children should learn in a social construct. Adults should learn in a social construct. Adults and children should learn while playing! To play is to imagine. As Einstein reminds us imagination is more important than knowledge.

Imagination is a new formation which is not present in the consciousness of the very young child, is totally absent in animals, and represents a specifically human form of conscious activity. Like all functions of consciousness, it originally arises from action ~ Vygotsky

I have learned so much from and with others. I find passion about children contagious. Cindy Green, a friend and colleague for close to three decades has been one of my favourite people to dialogue with about all things early childhood education. Last week while in Saskatchewan and Manitoba delivering hands on, experiential workshops to early childhood educators we had many conversations in airports, on airplanes, in taxis and hotel rooms. We talked to others, particular Drew Williams and Peter Dixon from Storypark and found it so exhilarating the we had like-minded people to dialogue with! ! Cindy and I felt so honoured when they both joined us for another button experience workshop (have buttons will travel).

The big question during our week of travelling workshops was “can we ignite passion in others”? In the end, after all our discussions, we landed on the fact that passion can be ignited when early leaning teachers experience the new and the novel and avoid habituation. The same for children! Beginning in infancy and throughout the life span, humans are motivated by newness, change, and excitement (Ostroff, 2012). Avoiding habituation – letting our practice become a habit means disrupting the status quo and accepting new and big ideas! Community plays a central role in the process of “making meaning” according to Vygotksy. This summer there is a professional learning conference to learn through others while engaging in new and exciting experiences that are transferrable to practice with children.


A defining moment for me during our travels was meeting Julie Hansen from Inspired ECE. As we engaged in lively conversation with Julie, a younger, passionate early childhood educator, I watched Cindy react in excitement to her stories of practice. Thinking back on this time, I am reminded of a quote I had seen somewhere, “We Rise by Lifting Others”. I searched for the author, Robert Ingersoll and discovered a status quo disrupter! Peter, Drew, Cindy and I spent quite a bit of time encouraging and supporting Julie. Afterwards, I felt honoured and elevated. I think we all did! Cindy and I will be continuing the discussion this summer in our presentation: Inquisitive Learners Require Curious and Passionate Teachers at the Fairy Dust Summer Conference. Online conferences are an accessible way to learn professionally but for me nothing beats face to face professional learning. We are really looking forward to the face to face experience of A Tapestry of Play and Learning on August 12th, 2017. It is going to be a whole week of professional learning! For those attending The Rhythm of Learning in Nature (there are only two spaces left), Tapestry is included in the conference price as well as the York Region Nature Collaborative’s Adventure Playground Pop Up and Workshop on August 8th! Come play with us, collaborate, embrace the new and novel, use your imagination, learn from and with others. Be a status quo disrupter as we continue to elevate and lift ourselves, others, and our profession!

… People with great passions, people who accomplish great deeds, people who possess strong feelings, even people with great minds and a strong personality, rarely come out of good little boys and girls ~ Vygotsky

4 thoughts on “Play, Collaborate, Elevate: We Rise by Lifting Others

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  4. Pingback: Cultivating Professional Identity in Early Childhood Education: Top Tips! | Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research

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