Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Marie Bell, Visionary Educator dies at 90

I was very sad to learn of the death of Marie Bell. She was an exceptional advocate for children and their families throughout New Zealand. Her work, initially with the establishment of Matauranga School in the 60's, and then in early childhood education, particularly as a lecturer of kindergarten teachers, made an outstanding contribution to education in New Zealand at many levels. She was totally committed to a democracy that ensured that children's rights were both protected and supported.

I have many warm memories of times with Marie, and one that stands out, is when we both shared time with Urie Bronfenbremmer beside the shores of Lake Rotoiti. They were both very tall ‘totaras’ in education, each making very important contributions to early childhood education. 

Later in life, Marie was an inspiration to us all in what it means to be a life long learner by completing a PhD while in her 80's. She presents to all of us such a powerful model of what it means to lead a full life and be a life-long learner. It is one thing to talk to others about the importance of life-long learning, it is another to powerfully enact in your own life.

My eldest brother’s family are also sad to be out of the country at this time as they also had a special relationship with Marie and also felt the power of her inspiration. For them, not only was she a wonderful educator, but she was also the guiding light and strength for her wider family. They will all miss her very much and the foundation she built for her grandchildren will give them the best start in life. We will all miss her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have just read of the death of Marie Bell and want to acknowledge her impact on me, both as an individual and for my almost 40 years working in the early childhood field.
Marie taught me at Wellington Kindergarten Teachers College in Kelburn in 1973/4. Along with other amazing women at the college, she encouraged, inspired and stimulated us, through her teaching and through her democratic ways of working with students. It is no accident that so many of the teachers I trained with continued in the field for so long, in Aotearoa New Zealand, Britain, and Australia. People like Marie engendered in us a love of teaching, respect for children and commitment to engage with families in the transformative power of early childhood care and education.
Marie’s passion for progressive, child-centred education still holds true today. She was an inspiration, and one of that remarkable team of women at Wellington Kindergarten Teachers College who gave me the great passion for early childhood that hopefully continues with me today. I am truly indebted for your wisdom, teaching and encouragement.
Rest in Peace Marie