Landscapes of transformation: changing education for changing times
The Sector > Workforce > Leadership > Landscapes of transformation: changing education for changing times

Landscapes of transformation: changing education for changing times

by Kerrie O’Neill, Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange Committee Member

March 21, 2019

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Sector.

The provocation and prospect of transforming pedagogical practices with young children prompts Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange committee member Kerrie O’Neill to think about many dimensions of the early childhood landscape. Here, she considers how best to transform the learning journey of Australia’s youngest citizens, babies.


The provocation includes the transformation of relationships; the transformation of rights; the transformation of materials; the transformation of environments; the transformation of identity; the transformation of ideas, thoughts and theories; the transformation of practices; and, the miracle and transformation of learning and understanding. Most importantly for me, is the question, what impact has the educational project of Reggio Emilia had in transforming our image of the child in the cultural context of Australia?  


An educator’s image of the child is derived from family values and beliefs, culture, the media and personal experiences. An educator’s image of the child (and there are hundreds of them) also orients the relationships and progettazione that is designed with and for children in early childhood settings. A public declaration of an image of the child is an ethical principle that is necessary for debate, and an exchange with families and colleagues that may result in transformed practices.  Without this declaration, educators may fall into a vortex or pedagogy of repetition and boredom.


The history of childhood reveals a culture of silence for children. Historically, children were not considered to have rights, and learning and development theories evolved from a pedagogy of care rather than a pedagogy of education. Sadly, the children who have been silenced the most throughout history, are those children who do not verbally communicate.  This culture of silence, or as Paulo Freire suggests, the pedagogy of the oppressed includes the youngest of children: babies.


I am thrilled, along with my colleagues Priscilla Carmichael and Bronwyn Thompson to be presenting at the upcoming Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange (REAIE) Conference in Perth to be held from 10 to 14July 2019. Our presentation will document the process of critical thinking generated from a desire to transform early childhood pedagogy and practice with our youngest citizens. We will address the difference between a ‘curriculum’ for babies and ‘progettazione’ for babies. We will challenge participants to reflect on the potential of babies, their attitude towards babies, and consider a process of learning that is dynamic, sensitive to communicative rhythms and which honours and values the establishment of authentic, trusting and respectful relationships.


This presentation will appeal to anyone interested in social justice, equity, and who recognise children as citizens with rights from birth.


For more information on the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange Conference, including how to register, visit

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