Thanks to Julie Diamond (who, she reminded me, was my grandson’s kindergarten teacher), I have a copy again of The English Infant School and Informal Eduction by Lillian Weber, published 42 years ago! Teachers and parents of young children should figure out how to get hold of it and pour over its pages. I like the phrase “informal,” which we’ve dropped even in progressive circles. It fits so well with Lillian’s drive for continuity between home and school communities rather than the relentless current drive to put a wall between the school and the child’s own roots and loved ones. But the latter is not new, and it was what Lillian Weber was fighting against in the 1960s and 70s. It’s the key dilemma we’ve never focused on for long enough, the ways available that simultaneously strengthen schools AND their families, communities and children. Rather than seeing families as the “cause” of school failure, how might we join with them to celebrate the intellectual and social strengths and affections that children bring with them to school. Thanks, Lillian—as in all her sparse writing, I hear her insistent, no-nonsense voice which carried with it a very different meaning for “no excuses.” It’s time for rereadng her work and revisiting the practices she encouraged us to seek out—the cracks in the system where we could plant new seeds.
A good place to start is Looking Back and Thinking Forward, edited by Beth Alberty (TC Press).
Filed under: 2013 posts