Monday, July 18, 2016

More images by Feng Zikai

Here are some more images by Feng Zikai...

This image painted by Feng Zikai gives a very clear message about his views of education

I photographed this image when I visited his home in Shanghai. I offer this image of Feng Zikai’s work as a provocation for everyone. Teachers and academics alike. What ideas might Feng Zikai be suggesting by this image….

Wendy Lee

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A very special visit to meet Song Xue Jun

A very special visit to meet Song Xue Jun

A very special gift from Song Xue Jun - Paintings by Feng Zaikai and here he is signing this lovely book!

Today was a very special day, I felt so privileged to meet Feng Zikai’s grandson in Shanghai and also to visit Feng Zikai’s home. This home is no longer open to the general public, so it was such a special opportunity to go in and explore this house, and learn from Song Xue Jun about Feng Zikai and his family.

This image on the left is painted by Feng Zikai, it is an image of Song Xue Jun when he was 3 months old! I feel so much resonance with the work of Feng Zikai, his image of the child was so rich, creative, strong and powerful. Feng Zikai was a most extraordinary human being. His ability to listen deeply to children is without question, his writing so eloquent in expressing the significance of these views. He witnessed children’s lives in such a magnificent way, calling childhood the ‘golden age’. Feng Zikai was a true advocate for children, we need him as much today as we did during his lifetime. 

Thank you Song Xue Jun for a very fabulous day to be remembered always.

Wendy Lee

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards

 Quote from the  Awards programme…
“Matariki is a time to reflect on the past and plan for a new year. It’s a time to learn and share, and a time for celebration. It’s a watershed moment that looks back on what’s been achieved and those who were held dear, and looks ahead to new horizons, yet to be explored.
Just as the sun crests the horizon and dawn makes its way towards daylight, so too does every learner embark on a journey towards knowledge and enlightenment.
This is the journey we trace with the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, recognising the four categories and Takatū prize, that mark the rising of the Matariki dawn, with a sixth award – the Supreme Award.

I felt very privileged to attend the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards with the Roskill South Kindergarten team. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with the Roskill South team their excellence in practice. Their commitment to live Te Whāriki is without question as they seamlessly put the principles into action at every level of their practice. Their engagement with the local community is witness to the deeply respectful relationships that they practice each and every day! The commitment and high expectations for every child is fully evidenced in outstanding documentation that illuminates their practice and makes visible the powerful learning opportunities that they create in an environment that is truly responsive to each child. This documentation illustrates so impressively what is happening for each child, there is no doubt in my mind that this documentation will be in the hands of these families for generations and these teachers can be justly proud that this documentation is and will continue to be incredible trace of their professional lives. The work of this kindergarten has influenced practice on many levels not only in New Zealand but around the world. Well done for all your efforts Roskill South, I am so proud to be associated with the passion and drive of each and every one you as you continue on your journey to be the very best you can be!  

Kia kaha, kia manawanui

Friday, May 27, 2016

Films produced by Anne Smith made available as a tribute to her work

With the permission of Anne's family the  University of Otago has made available 4  films produced by Anne Smith. These can be downloaded. The films were made between 1979 and 1993 and concern political and pedagogical issues for early childhood care and education at the time. They were very influential and widely used in early childhood training and teacher education institutions at the time and across  various  education studies and women's studies in university programmes.

Blue for a Girl

Can't Afford to be Casual about Childcare

Early Childhood Educare: the search for quality

Dunedin Family Daycare Project

Emeritus Professor Anne Smith remembered

It is with much sadness that we acknowledge the death of Emeritus Professor Anne Smith. Anne has been such a powerful advocate of ECE for more than forty years. Anne was at the forefront of the development of Childcare in NZ and has contributed enormously on so many levels to building a strong Early Childhood Service in this country. Below is a wonderful tribute written by Professor Helen May... this tribute is also accessible via the University of Otago website.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Emeritus Professor Anne Smith. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

Otago Professor Helen May pays tribute to a great friend, great scholar and great advocate for the rights of women and children, Anne B. Smith.

The University of Otago Emeritus Professor of Education and Childhood Studies, and Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, died recently.

Professor May says Anne arrived back in New Zealand in late 1974, with her husband John and two pre-school-aged children, appointed to the University as a lecturer in education, in the field of human development. She had been awarded an Izaak Walten Killam Memorial Fellowship to study at the University of Alberta, where she had obtained her doctorate, as had John.

Thus began a whirlwind career and an adventurous journey over more than four decades, using the resources of academia, through research, writing, presentation, conferencing, film making and travel, to present the research and policy arguments for quality child care, and more broadly for quality early childhood.

This was a journey played out on many fronts. Firstly, within the university, where career advancement for women and particularly women with children was a rocky road. Anne was part of small group of feminist women academics that challenged the pervasive patriarchy of university employment practices.

Secondly, on the local front, Anne was part of the Dunedin Women’s Collective that got funding through the 1975 International Women’s Year fund to establish a childcare centre that demonstrated in its practice, how quality for children and support for women could be realised.

These were heady days that spilled onto national political fronts linking early childhood education and women’s rights. Anne became and remained a figure of national renown: advising, chairing, and working with multiple government agencies on various taskforces, think tanks, committees and working groups.

Back in the mid-1970s Anne was the first academic in New Zealand to actively support the idea that quality childcare could be a good thing for children and families.
She became involved in the advocacy work of the NZ Association of Child Care Centres (now named Te Rito Maioho Early Childhood NZ), undertaking leading work around qualifications for staff working in childcare and, through her research, challenging older myths of maternal deprivation to promote new understandings of the components of quality childcare.

Anne’s advocacy work for early childhood was always grounded in research, a field in which she gained both national and international recognition. Her book Understanding Children went through many editions and has been a standard text for so many New Zealand students of education and teaching.

In 1995, Anne was appointed the foundation Professor and Director of the Children’s Issues Centre. This opened another front as a leading advocate for children’s rights; posing new research questions and confronting key issues for children, including New Zealand’s ‘anti smacking’ legislation. Anne’s stage was truly international, and with colleagues from the Children’s Issues Centre and other like centres of scholarship, the new discipline of Childhood Studies was founded.

Late last year, Anne received the unexpected news that she had an aggressive form of cancer. She actually felt in fine health at the time. Having reached the age of 75 years, she had been delighted to have gained a free ski pass for the Central Otago ski fields where the Smith family liked to gather with their grandchildren. While the prognosis was not good, treatments were possible. In the meantime, Anne hastened work on a number of writing projects, most important was completing her book Children’s Rights Towards Social Justice.

This was launched amidst a great gathering of friends and colleagues in Dunedin in April, and then in May at an even bigger gathering in Wellington, including more friends, Members of Parliament and leaders of organisations and government agencies associated with early education and children’s health, wellbeing and children’s rights.

Anne was also writing other chapters, papers and articles during the past few months; the last being sent off a couple of days before she entered hospital. This was an unexpected and massive set back. Only earlier in the week Anne was cheerfully planning other tasks and we had hoped to meet up over the weekend for tea/coffee and pikelets. Instead, last Saturday at Dunedin Hospital we said goodbye amidst some still lively talk about early childhood education politics, the latest books we were reading, computer technology and family news.

Earlier in the year, Carmen Dalli and Anne Meade, with Anne’s permission, began work on a book to be published later this year by NZCER Press with chapters written by a few of Anne’s colleagues: Research, Policy and Advocacy in the Early Years A book inspired by the achievements of Professor Anne B Smith, a pioneer of evidence-based policy and practice in New Zealand.

My own chapter entitled the ‘Early Adventures of Anne’ tells the story of Anne’s first year at the University of Otago in 1975, and its aftermath. It is based mainly on an earlier interview with Anne where she describes the politics and prejudices around childcare at the time, and the campaigns that followed. In our last conversation together I was clarifying some of the interview content. Anne’s comment was ‘Well I did say it!’ And so she did.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Margaret Carr, Annie White and Wendy Lee

How wonderful it has been to have Annie White with us over the last few days. Annie is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Studies, at California State University, Channel Islands.  It has also been a pleasure to host her husband Jim as well. Annie is passionate about ‘Learning Stories’ and has participated in three Study Tours in New Zealand with Margie Carter, which was hosted by NZ Inspire early childhood educators in Auckland. During her stay, she has been interviewing teachers, leaders, academics etc about the use of Learning Stories in New Zealand.

In California, all State funded programmes are required to use a children's assessment tool referred to as the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP).  This tool was developed by University of California, Berkeley and WestED, research institute.  This is a very challenging tool to use and has the potential to stop any teacher in their tracks with the density of the observation requirements.  Finding a pathway to meet these requirements and keep teachers connected to children’s learning lives has been a huge challenge for Annie. When Annie came to NZ, and listened to our voices and witnessed the practice, she knew that there had to be another way that Head Start and California could approach children's assessments.

After learning about the practice and philosophy of Learning Stories she returned home from NZ with a deep passion and a tenacious drive to incorporate learning stories in the Head Start programme, where she has worked with for the past 18 years. They have now been using Learning Stories for the past four years. 

This led her to her dissertation study, "Engaging Families in School Readiness: Creating New Pathways for Dialogue".  She used Learning Stories as the basis for her research to investigate teacher and parent collaboration and family engagement.  Annie also worked with Early Head Start program (birth to three years of age) to use Learning Stories (they called them "Journey of Discoveries") in collaboration with parents/families.  Her research was a qualitative case study through the University of California, Davis and Sonoma State University.  Her findings have been well received and she has presented at the California Department of Education, Early Education Support Division, to demonstrate how learning stories can be used in conjunction with the DRDP tool.  Recently, she has presented locally, Statewide and Nationally on her research.  There is an incredible interest in Learning Stories.  Annie recently received a Simms/Mann Fellowship and will be conducting a year-long project using Learning Stories with two homeless shelters that have child care centres.  Annie’s University students will also be supporting the teachers in the homeless centres, as peer mentors, to support parent to complete Learning Stories.

Annie was recently hired by California State University, Channel Islands to support their existing work using Learning Stories in the early childhood study courses.  Learning Stories have been used as part of the curriculum and assessment courses for several years.  Teachers who are placed in classrooms for student teaching, use Learning Stories for children's assessments, to assess the centres, and for their own assessment for learning. 

Annie continues to teach, explore and research Learning Stories as she searches for meaningful and authentic ways to assess children’s learning.