Guest blog: The importance of asking “why?”
“We have always done it this way!” This is probably a saying that we have all heard from time to time, and in some cases never really thought much of it. In some situations, this saying is absolutely fine to say and also to hear.
However, if we stop and ask ourselves if this statement has a place within our early years settings, I’m hoping that we would all agree the answer is no.
With childcare practices, legislations, frameworks, and approaches regularly changing, advancing and being reviewed, can we really afford to stop moving forward and evolving with the times? Some might say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but as research develops, case reviews take place, and technology evolves, we owe it to the children that we take care of to do better.
With the idea of change being quite scary to many, it's understandable that the statement “we have always done it this way!” has crept into the workplace. However, we know the importance of reflective practice to ensure that we can learn from our mistakes and celebrate our wins. This is important not only for our personal development, but also to ensure our settings’ early years practices are always improving.
As a sector, we need to take more time to ask the question “why?”. To lots of us, this question can seem quite daunting as it is so regularly used to point out issues, but this is a question that we should be hearing more and more within our settings.
When we stop and actually consider why we do things; why we set up this opportunity, why we used these resources, why we set up this environment in this way, only then we can uncover whether our actions are worthwhile or not. And if we’re going through the motions simply because “we have always done it this way”, then maybe it's time for change.
We need to reflect, review and improve. If something isn’t having a positive impact or doesn’t have a purpose, then should we be doing it? Habit is not a reason to keep doing something.
Reflective practice allows us the opportunity to gain a critical understanding of our own individual practice. Therefore, I encourage each and every one of us in the nursery sector to take more time to ask ourselves, “why?” And if the reason for doing something is just because it has always been done that way, we need to set ourselves a challenge.
Crucially, this shouldn’t be a scary thing but rather an opportunity; a chance to step out of our comfort zones and reflect, review, and improve.
"The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences. We must widen the range of topics and goals, the types of situations we offer and their degree of structure, the kinds and combinations of resources and materials, and the possible interactions with things, peers, and adults."
- Loris Malaguzzi, early childhood educator and founder of the Reggio Emilia approach
My vision is that, with continued collaboration and strong networking, we can all support each other and aim for improvement and development not only for our individual settings, groups or chains, but for the entire sector, working towards shared goals and outcomes for all children.