Learning Circle Reflections: Bridging Home, School and Community - March 2018


This month's Learning Circle Reflections were compiled by Kathryn Peckham.


Learning Circle Reflections: Bridging Home, School and Community - 14.03.2018

This was another fantastic session that tonight had us looking at ideas around bridging the home-school and community perspectives around the child with a focus on both local and global perspectives. We were treated by a talk from Gopinder Kaur Sagoo who has recently reached the end of her PhD, who shared her research with us.

Having moved recently to Birmingham, Gopinder looked at the impact on children of moving into settings with different cultural realities, informed by global and religious philosophies. With lots of discussions around the subject, there wasn’t much in the way of structured practice so Gopinder looked to make and shape the first Nishkam Nursey that looked at the multidisciplinary impact of children’s care.

By viewing this within a process of social change that Gopinder talked of as occurring very slowly at times, fast at others this really demonstrated the multiple layers that must be considered within anything that involves children.

The rationale was driven from a Sikh focus on early childhood as a vital life phase, and an observed shortfall in the provision being otherwise supplied. Gopinder spoke passionately about the idea of bringing together a community of resources, ‘mobilising people and values’ to create the first Nishkam Nursery (meaning selfless and altruistic in Punjabi). With an ethos of social contribution, this drove the need for a social provision, something to connect philosophical and official frameworks that drew on Sikh concepts – a 500-year-old heritage entwined with the Punjabi ethnic identity.

Gopinder outlined the history and principles of the Sikh faith and its indigenous concepts of living meditatively, industrially and generously, where Sikh itself means learner with strong roots in education, providing a real relevance to the importance of faith as a philosophy and way of living – more than a faith-based religion.

Through the various phases of the project; through the envisioning phase, a pilot phase and the renovation and opening of the facility the impact on global and historical contexts were explored, with implication on a micro to macro scale. Gopinder talked about how this involved working with diverse mixes of culture, language and experience, but by considering ’people as agents’ as a constant, structure was provided.

Through the study, a method of linguistic ethnography provided the lens to view the research through, from the building of the nursey to fully creating a world for the children that saw the responses to the environment, educationally and culturally through the diversity involved.

Participant observation methods were used alongside interviews with founders, staff, parents and visiting professionals as Gopinder looked at the ideas and values that guided the nurseries creation, both through day-to-day practice and communication and the responses of the parents.

Having considered the location where there was a majority ‘minority ethnic’ population, with a strong mix of language, religion and diversity, Gopinder then went on to explore more than the physical space to look at how the environment was being configured, how language, faiths, cultural values and backgrounds were combining.

By reflecting on the schooling experiences of the adults across three continents with pressures of migration and family life challenges built in, the collective hopes for the children as local, national and global citizens were considered. Respecting the fact that this also had to sit within a wider societal position, impacted by national legislation, frameworks, directives, reports and syllabuses.

From all of this, a hybridised nursery world was evolved. Incorporating the physical design of the environment with the central theme of food, music, signage and uniform and concepts of trans-languaging.

With a final image that really rooted the new nursey on a greater timeline for the children and all users there was a great deal to think about and the conversations and debates gave us so much to consider and think about; from the plural, communitarian notions of citizenship, the possibilities for reimaging schools within a postcolonial and post-secular context and the deeper purposes, differences and resonance within a world of increasing complexity and social challenge.

The CREC Learning Circle has met regularly since 2003 for presentations and discussions on early childhood issues and includes students, policymakers, local authority leaders and visiting academics.

You can find out more about the CREC Learning Circle here.

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