Monday, February 28, 2011

Our love reaches out to all our friends and family in Christchurch

Ka ngāueue, ka whakaruerue te rohe o Otautahi.  I tae ngā tangata o Aotearoa me ngā tangata o te Ao ki ō mātou mutunga.  Ka matakitaki, ka whakarongo mātou ki ngā kōrero o ngā mōrehu, o ngā Whanau Mamae me  o ngā Whanau Pani.  Aue taukiri e! Kua pā ēnei kōrero ki o matou ngakau.

Ki  nga mate o tēnei wā haere ra kei tua o te arai ki te noho i waenga i ngā ringa o o koutou tupuna.  Moe mai ra, moe mai ra, moe mai ra.
Ki  nga mōrehu, kei te whakarongo matou ki to koutou kōrero o to koutou puta mai o te wharenui pākaru.  Ka titiro matou  i to koutou maia, to koutou kaha.  Ko koutou i ngā tangata ranga wairua ki a matou katoa.  Kā mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa.
Ki  ngā tangata mamae, ngā tangata pouri, ratou ko ngā Whanau pani o Otautahi, kā mihi arohanui ki a koutou katoa. 
Ko o matou hoa o ELP me to koutou whanau, ka whakaaro matou i a koutou i tēnei  wā uaua.  Ka mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa.
Christchurch shook and trembled.  The people of New Zealand and the world stood still.  We watched and listened to the stories of the survivors and the stories of the bereaved.  It was heart-breaking.
To those who have passed away, you are leaving now to be with your loved ones who have already passed. 
To the survivors, we have listened to your stories of escape from the damaged buildings. We have seen your strength and your bravery.  You are an inspiration to us all.  We send our love to you all.
To the injured, the sad and the bereaved families of Christchurch, we send our deepest sympathy to you all.
To the friends of ELP in Christchurch and your families we are thinking of you in this difficult time.  We send our love to you all.
Many of us have bonds with Christchurch through family, family, education and business. We all have memories of the cathedral and other focal points which are now damaged beyond recognition.  Our thoughts are with the people of Christchurch as they struggle to recover from this devastating earthquake.
There have been many offers of help from within New Zealand  and overseas.  We all want to do something to help but for most of us it is not possible or practical to physically go there.  The biggest need in the next weeks and months will be for money.  We at ELP support the Christchurch Mayoral Earthquake Appeal which is administered by the Red Cross. You can make a contribution to this fund by clicking on this link click here
We wish all the people caught up in this disaster and for all of you with the friends and family in the affected area all the best for the coming months.
Marie, Annika, Wendy, Lorraine, Jo, Robyn, Alison and Kathryn

Monday, February 21, 2011

I have been reading...The LAST LECTURE by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

Many of you will be familiar with Randy’s The Last Lecture which featured on YouTube and television since late 2007. University Professors at Carnegie Mellon University have the chance to give their Last Lecture. It is a time for them to consider and share with others what matters most to them knowing they possibly have the time to live it all out. Randy knew his Last Lecture was his last, he now had terminal pancreatic cancer. As I watched I thought about his courage and bravery with which he faced the end of his life as he talked about cancer, death and dying. His “engineering problem...and now doing the best you can with limited resources.” All the while focussing on life and living, and sharing his wisdom with us. However, the lecture is a ruse. He reminds us that “it was for my kids,” He was “trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children” (p.x).
The Last Lecture is now a delightful little book in which Randy tells us many humorous and inspirational stories. He offers “thanks to my parents who allowed me to dream, and with hopes for the dreams my children will have”.
The stories all provide beautiful prompts for reflection about my own life. One in particular, called A Skill Set Called Leadership (p.43, 44), tells us how his role model James T Kirk of Star Trek helped him be a better husband, teacher and colleague. He reports that Kirk was “the distilled essence of the dynamic manager, a guy who knew how to delegate, had the passion to inspire, and looked good in what he wore to work. He never professed to have skills greater than his subordinates. He acknowledged that they knew what they were doing in their domains. But he established the vision, the tone.” Randy’s story and wisdom spoke to me of the skills we all bring to our work, but more so, the skills necessary to sharing leadership and how none of us have skills greater than the other just that what we contribute to our teams is complimentary and necessary to the function of the team or group.
I enjoyed this book and continue to ‘dip’ into it for pleasure and the reflective prompts and inspiration Randy provides. I recommend taking time to read it aloud and share it with teachers, parents amd your family. Our stories have the power to transform lives. Sharing them is important. Randy’s story will continue to transform. 

Randy also had a website which you might be interested in.

Kathryn Delany

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Serendipitous; a chance meeting to remember, 13th January 2011

We recently received this an email from Julie Peal, an early childhood teacher at Wellington's Victoria University Law School.

Just had to share with you all an amazing bit of serendipity, as you may know I work in the old government building which is now the Victoria University Law School, it is open to anyone to walk through, with many tourists passing through the halls each day. As I walked out of my centre with some children (heading outside to our play ground) we met an elderly gentleman in the hall and sparked up a conversation with him.
His gentle and respectful conversations with the children led me to ask him if he was or had been a teacher, to which he replied “not really” I only work with masters students now. He said during his early working life he had taught in so called third world countries in Africa and the Philippines and now worked at the University of Sussex.
He said he was visiting from Britain but was born in NZ, he asked about the centre and was most impressed to know that we were located in such close proximity to the children’s families. He spoke at length on how important it was for woman to be supported to be educated and in work, while knowing their children were close by. This led to the story of his mothers struggle to be educated at a time when women were not expected to work outside the home. 
Not knowing who he was I innocently ask what it was like when he was a child to which he replied that his mother had been active in supporting early childhood education and had set up an early childhood centre in the 50s. Long story short the interesting and interested elderly gentleman was Anthony Somerset son of Gwen Somerset, who was a pioneer of Early childhood Education in New Zealand and wrote vital play amongst other thinks. 
We then had an amazing kororo about Piaget whom he thought underestimated young children’s ability to understand because he tested their knowledge out of the context of their lives.  Basically he said Piaget didn’t see things through the child’s eyes.
Vygotsky was our next topic, which led to how culture impacts children’s learning. Tony (as he asked me to call him)  then proceeded to tell me a story of recently looking after a young boy of just 3 years, they had gone for a walk and came across a tractor, climbing onto the tractor the young boy noticed a box attached to it and asked if they could open it. Tony’s reply was that the farmer may not like them to do that. The child noticing the box had writing on the lid pointed to it and said that says we are allowed to open the box.
On hearing this creative problem solving Tony agreed to the boy opening the box. Inside the box was a rope which the child use to fish with off the tractor. As this imaginary play came to an end, on his own initiative the boy packed the rope into the box and shut the lid, saying “now the farmer will be happy”. 
Tony then unpacked for me all the learning this little story held, as if he were writing a learning story.  It included allowing the child’s curiosity to lead their learning, understanding that written script could communicate meaning (although it was in Russian Cyrillic script) but most importantly the empathy for Tony’s feelings that the farmer would not like them to open the box. Tony felt by ensuring that the rope was safely returned to its place and saying the farmer would be happy, the child seemed to have shown an understanding of the ethical issues involved. He wondered what Piaget would make of this child’s ability to see this problem from so many different perspectives, his own, Tony’s and the farmers.
What an inspiration to hear this man (now well into his 80s) speak so knowledgeably and passionately on the role of woman and young children’s learning   As a person who has an interest in history and the way it shapes our learning and teaching this was a truly fortunate meeting with a person who is so closely connected with two people ( Gwen Somerset and her brother Riwi Ally ) who have played such significant and cutting edge roles in education. In sharing a little of his own Whakapapa it was treasured insight into just how far early childhood education has come and how important it is in this time of uncertainty to hold tight to what we have achieved.  
It was serendipitous that I happened to have Sunshine and Shadow , Gwen Somerset’s autobiography sitting on my desk at home waiting to be read, meeting Tony who is from this family of (and is himself) a great educationist provided a great incentive to make time to do it.

Just thought this was a story worth sharing with colleagues who make such a difference in the field of education for young children, such as yourselves. 
All the very best