Terrace, BC -- CMTN Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) students took part in the annual Youth Art Show at the Terrace Art Gallery this May.
For the last year of their Diploma programs, the students worked alongside the Early Childhood Pedagogy Network at local daycares in Terrace, where they were tasked with "making bodies visible" alongside children aged 1 to 6. The visual results of the conversations with the children were displayed in the Youth Art Show.
“Initially, the students struggled to understand the concept of invisible bodies and how we might work to make these bodies visible in child care spaces,” says Vicki Mackenzie-Denis, ECCE Program Coordinator and Instructor.
Before starting the project at the daycare, the ECCE students held discussions in their classroom on the concept of “more-than-human” worlds, focusing on all beings—not only human—as being important in our world. They also attempted to rethink colonial perspectives of education in early years’ settings—concepts such as school-readiness at a certain age and female-dominated service careers.
Following these discussions about human- and non-human worlds and decolonization, the students then invited the children from the daycares to be the experts in designing their play environments. Children got to decide what they wanted to learn and brought the educators into their worlds.
“[The instructors] encouraged students to start trusting… trusting the children and their creative minds and trusting the process of observation and relationship. The bodies work became an extension of these discussions," says Mackenzie-Denis.
Over time, non-human bodies became more visible in the world around them. Students and children alike could identify the different bodies such as bodies of water, egg bodies, traces of animal and insect bodies, trees as living bodies, and so on. Each identification sparked a conversation about our own relationships to these bodies.
Mackenzie-Denis goes on to say that there are many takeaways from conducting a project such as this.
“The exhibit highlights the critically reflective work of trained early childhood educators and makes visible the work they do to reimagine early childhood education.
“We hope the exhibit will encourage conversations with families and the greater community around rethinking colonial images of the child and the embodiment of Indigenous knowledge within education.” she says.
Community members may view the art exhibit at the Terrace Art Gallery until May 27, 2023.
Learn more about the ECCE program at Coast Mountain College.
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