DEFENDING THE EARLY YEARS at NAEYC
Defending the Early Years (DEY) is proud to be presenting a CEASE-sponsored session at NAEYC’s Annual Conference on Friday, 3:00-4:30PM Room 101. Our session, titled Finding Your Voice: Becoming a Teacher-Activist will connect and inspire teachers who are looking to promote quality early childhood policies in their school, local community and nationwide. Participants will have the opportunity to hear stories of successes (and struggles) from teacher-activists and to learn from these experiences. Inspired by past panels sponsored by the Play, Policy, and Practice Interest Forum, the format for this session will feature a panel of teacher-activists in an action-oriented session. Participants will have the opportunity to hear from current teacher-activists from a variety of school settings and states – including CEASE member Karel Kilimnick. Karel will share her powerful and ongoing work Philadelphia, PA. Our aim is for participants to leave with practical ideas for advocacy and activism - and that our DEY network of early childhood teacher-activists will be strengthened.
DEY will also be sharing materials in the Exhibit Hall – and at key sessions. We are looking to host a caucus of NAEYC conference attendees who are concerned about current education reform trends, and the negative impact they are having on young children. Details regarding the caucus are forthcoming! Please join our mailing list and/or check our website for more information: deyproject.org.
Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, Director, DEY
CAMPAIGN FOR A COMMERCIAL-FREE CHILDHOOD
Cease is sponsoring the CCFC session at NAEYC: Nurturing early development in a commercialized world: What educators can do to prevent advertising and marketing harm.
Saturday, 10:00-11:30AM Room 103B
Stifled Creativity: One Troubling Result of a Commercialized Childhood
Creativity—our ability to invent, conjure, envision, think divergently, and change the status quo—is essential to a thriving democracy and is rooted in children’s creative play. Yet as a society, we seem to do just about everything we can to prevent even very young children from playing. Over-scheduling, lack of access to green space, and early emphasis on rote learning are a few of the barriers we’ve constructed. Another primary culprit is today’s unprecedented convergence of unfettered commercialism and ubiquitous screen media.
A commercialized, screen-saturated culture deprives children of what’s essential to creativity—time, space, and silence. Children constantly bombarded with stimulation are so busy reacting that they never learn how to generate. Instantaneous access to an endless array of videos, television, apps, and games may stave off boredom. But those precarious stretches of having “nothing to do,” are exactly what fosters the creative intersection of children’s inner world and their immediate surroundings.
The current crush of licensed toys also deters creativity, especially those that sing, dance, and talk at the press of a button. Children play less creatively with media linked toys, which arrive with predetermined names, voices, personalities, and scripts. Try making Elmo or Dora into anyone but themselves. Kids also play less creatively with kits—construction sets or packaged art projects designed to achieve one specific end result. The toys that nurture creativity suggest possibilities, but don’t insist on who or what they are and how they must be used. They just lie there, waiting to be transformed.
The childhood experience of initiating transformation, and finding the inner resources of flexibility and stamina to bring it to fruition, is the foundation of life-long creativity. Amidst the glitter and noise of screen-based commercialism, we need to actively carve out commercial-free, screen-free time and space for children.
Susan Linn is Director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
and author of The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World.