For a better world

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Professor Cathy Nutbrown imagines what a better world it could be for young children


When I asked some young children what could make their early years settings better, they offered a number of suggestions: 'A truck that goes right up to the sky'; 'Power Rangers costumes with real powers'; and 'a real pond with magic baby hippos in it'.

Now, even in the best stories, not all wishes are granted, but we can learn much from young children about just how powerful and important imagination can be.Robert Fulghum's famous essay, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, urges us to: 'Think what a better world it would be if all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.'

Can we adults imagine a world free from hunger, war, poverty and discrimination? Young children are born without prejudices, yet quickly learn discrimination. When they ask questions about difference, they are not making value judgements about what differences might mean; they are simply trying to understand and appreciate difference.

Young children need to spend their time in the company of adults who can help them understand and appreciate difference, and who can work creatively to build inclusive practices in their settings.

Let's think what might be possible in the coming years for early education and care. Let's imagine a time when the self-interested debates and wrangling over what is best for young children are over. Let's imagine a time when what matters for young children and their families is a primary concern for everyone. Let's imagine a time when all young children and their families are fully included in their settings and communities. Let's imagine a time when there is strong political will and high government investment to provide quality early education and care for our very young children. Let's imagine a time when people who work with young children are held in high regard by society. Let's continue to work for a system that places young children and their families at the centre of policy and practice - turning our imaginings into effective realities.

'Think what a better world it would be.'

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