Friday, July 24, 2020

Who's With Us?



These past two weeks have been a whirlwind. Today is the final day of the free part of The Play First Summit, a project that my friend Sally Haughey from Fairy Dust Teaching proposed to my wife Jennifer and me a mere three months ago. Three months. That's hardly enough time to plan a decent dinner party, let alone an international gathering of early childhood educators and parents. This is the sort of thing that typically takes a year or more to pull together, but we were feeling a rising sense of dismay about the state of the world and what it means, and could mean, for young children. As Lisa Murphy said in the kick off session of the summit, we are the guardians of childhood, all of us. If we don't speak for them, who will? It was a sentiment echoed throughout, from conversation to conversation, and not just from the presenters.

It's heartwarmingly, mind blowingly clear that we aren't alone. Nearly 75,000 people joined us at this urgently called summit this week, representing 97 nations. Ninety-seven nations. Depending on how you count, that's about half the countries on earth. That is truly a global gathering beyond our wildest expectations. About a third of those participants have been participating in our Facebook community group. Going in, I figured I would need to serve as a good host, initiating dialog and spurring conversation, but for weeks now, the page has been abuzz in a way that I've not seen even at live conferences. Instead of "managing" the group, I've spent this past week scrambling just to keep up with it all. I can't wait for things to die down a bit so that I can methodically go through every one of those discussion threads because there is, using Sally's word, a lot of "gold" there.

From the beginning, our hope has been that this isn't a one-off, that this summit could be a spark to ignite a worldwide movement on behalf of our youngest citizens. Whether that happens or not will be up to all of us. I've not yet had the opportunity to really reflect on this experience. It's all so fresh and my mind is pinging and popping in a way that makes it hard to organize my thoughts, but I imagine the relative lull of the next couple weeks will provide the opportunity. That said, several strong common threads have clearly emerged both from our presenters as well as in the Facebook discussions. There is no doubt that the Avengers have assembled, the guardians have emerged, and there are a whole lot of us prepared to stand up together, around the world, in defense of childhood.

I'm looking forward to this final day of conversation and dialog that lies ahead of us. As I write this, we are 15 minutes away from releasing four more dialogs with presenters from three different continents. It's not too late to join this dialog which will continue for the months and years to come. We need your voice, young children need your voice, families need your voice. 

Rae Pica, who is speaking today, invites us: "Let's spark an early childhood revolution!" Who's with us?

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This is the final day of part one of The Play First Summit. It's still not too late to join us for this free event featuring twenty of the world's top early childhood and parenting thought leaders, including Janet Lansbury, Peter Gray, Lisa Murphy, Ijumaa Jordan, Maggie Dent, and Cheng Xuequin (Anji Play). This is not just another series of lectures, but rather a collection of conversations about our challenging times, how they are impacting young children and families, what we can do about it, and how we might seize this moment to transform the early years into what they ought to be for children everywhere. To see the full list of speakers and to register, click here.


Also, Teacher Tom's Second Book is now available in the UK, Iceland, and Europe thanks to my friends at Fafunia! It's also available in the US and Canada. If you want to go directly to the Fafunia page click here.  And if you missed it, Teacher Tom's First Book is back in print as well.


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