My children return to school this week, after 8 weeks of school closure. This last year has certainly been challenging and has probably shifted my thinking in many different ways that I am only just beginning to attend to. Over the last year, as part of processing everything that has been happening and what it might mean for my research, I ended up writing several guest blog posts, so I wanted to add a post here linking to them all and providing an overview of what I have been writing about.
Early on in lockdown, I was deeply influenced by those in the academic community calling for us to attend to the pandemic as a watershed moment in which there is a chance to realign our values and purpose. As Solnit (2020) writes, “When a storm subsides, the air is washed clean of whatever particulate matter has been obscuring the view, and you can often see farther and more sharply than at any other time.” I write with my colleague James Duggan about some of the implications of this for research with communities in this post. This post also references many of the writers who were shaping my thinking and giving my hope early on during the pandemic.
Later in the year, I collaborated with James, and another colleague Sonia Bussu to organise an online event about coproduction during and after the pandemic. Recording of that event is available here.
There were many smart and powerful voices writing about young children, play, learning, wellbeing and families during 2020 lockdown. I felt in awe of people who were able to say such coherent things so quickly, and that my brain was struggling to catch up. However, I did write this post for the Education Exchange later in the year – it reflects on the importance of place and movement for young children, and how educators might respond to this and support children and families as restrictions began to ease.
Finally, I have started to share the findings of my British Academy research project on the Emergence of Literacy in Young Children. I was lucky that I had completed my fieldwork before the pandemic begun, and also that The British Academy granted me a 6 month funded extension to complete the writing up and dissemination of the work. My book, More-The-Human Literacies in Early Childhood is due out next month, and I will write a post separately about that when it comes out. I am also writing a resource for educators that summarises some of the ideas from the book. In the meantime, I wrote a guest blog post for Jan White at Early Childhood Outdoors. This post describes some of the ideas and empirical data from a journal article I co-authored last year.
I will end with this image, which my daughter took of me and edited on her tablet last week, whilst we were home schooling / working together. It sums up my year well I suppose – trying to keep going, keep writing, keep thinking, but in slightly shattered fragments in between being with family, community and students, as we all slipped in and out of differing levels of restrictions and uncertainty. Lots of love and solidarity to everyone reading this who has experienced the same, let’s keep hopeful for finding new ways and new paths forward.