Dear colleagues, dear friends,
In taking up the baton of next year conference we would like to thank the whole EECERA board – and in particular Chris Pascal, Julia Formosinho and Vasilis Grammatikopoulos – for giving us the opportunity and the support to host such an important and renowned conference in Bologna.
It is indeed an honour for our University – and for our Education Department in particular – to host a forum of distinguished scholars who come from all over Europe and beyond. With the invaluable contribution of Fondazione Alma Mater – which is represented here by Nadia Borelli and Fabio Pizzimenti who will take care of the conference organisation – we will make sure that all delegates can make the most out of time they will spend in the city of Bologna.
We are aware of how each EECERA conference is marked distinctively by the local history, culture and traditions of the city in which it takes place. This year’s conference, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Ireland, I think left a landmark in the memories of all those who attended. It was also a source of inspiration for those of us to whom next year conference is handed over.
The time we are living in is marked by sharp contradictions, being characterised at the same time by multiple crises – not only economic crises but also socio-political, cultural and I would dare to say also humanitarian crisis on a global scale – and by the opening of new spaces and possibilities for change. In one of his recent articles, Peter Moss (2010: p. 8) timely argued that ‘we cannot continue as we are’ as the multiple crisis our societies are currently facing call for ‘a fundamental review of the purposes and concept of education and, therefore, of the values, approaches and practices’ which are enacted in the everyday work with young children. With different roles – as academics, researchers or practitioners – we are all engaged in pedagogical work with children, families and communities and therefore we cannot be exempted by the responsibility of breathing new life into early childhood education services as shared spaces for re-affirming children’s rights and participation, for furthering democratic practices and for claiming a more equal and just society.
Some of you might be familiar with the story that gave origin to ECEC services in Bologna, as well as Modena, Reggio Emilia and many other cities in the Region of Emilia-Romagna, in Norther-Central Italy. It is a story of civic engagement and struggles, where educators, parents (especially women) and citizens were involved in collective movements for regenerating society after the dark times of fascism and war. By drawing on this historical, cultural and political legacy we would like to take the opportunity of the EECERA conference in Bologna to re-open the debate on the multiple meanings and values that early childhood education assumes in a time characterised by unprecedented complexities, as the time we are living in. A time in which the lives of children and families are increasingly affected by experiences of poverty, marginalisation, stigmatisation and exclusion. But also a time in which socio-cultural diversity can open new spaces for mutual learning and experimentation, a time in which the resistance to dominant practices and discourses can take the form of educational activism and political advocacy.
In this sense, the title of next year's conference, ‘ECE beyond the crises: social justice, solidarity and children’s rights’, aspires to open a forum for engagement, debate and reciprocal exchange on the social and political role of early childhood education services as tool for transformation. Therefore, we wish to invite you to the 27th EECERA conference in Bologna with a quote by Foucault: ‘As soon as one can no longer think things as one formerly thought them, transformation becomes very urgent, very difficult and quite possible’ (1980: p. 154).
We look forward to welcoming you in Bologna!
The theme of the 27th conference ‘ECE beyond the crisis: social justice, solidarity and children’s rights’ aspires to open a space of debate on the value of early childhood education services (from birth to 8 years) in contemporary times. In times of austerity, political realignments and renegotiation of national and international agreements, evidence-based research studies are increasingly needed to make the argument for investing and sustaining early childhood services compelling. The human capital and social investment paradigms that underpin such evidence are increasingly shaping the construction of childhood and education services which stand at the centre of rebuilding our society for a socially just, inclusive and stable future. The conference aims at creating a forum where a thought-provoking discussion on these issues takes place, by challenging and problematising the competing paradigms that are currently influencing research, policies and practices in the ECE field.
Questions therefore arise:
1. VALUES AND VALUE EDUCATION
2. CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND SOCIETY
3. ECEC CONTEXTS, TRANSITION PRACTICES
4. CHILDERN’S RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY PARTICIPATION
5. PLAY LEARNING
6. DIVERSITY INCLUSION
7. INNOVATIVE/ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES
8. LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
9. PROFESSIONALISM TEACHER’S ROLE
10. LEADERSHIP QUALITY
11. CURRICULUM ASSESSMENT
12. PARADIGMS, THEORIES METHODOLOGIES
13. NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH IN ECEC