Course Goals

Stuck in a paradox of knowing, yet ineffectively enacting change, professionals in the early childhood field find themselves patching the holes of an infrastructure that is ready to crumble… (Retrieved from:

These powerful words, taken from the first discussion prompt in module 1, set the tone for what I am sure will be an enlightening semester and one that challenges me to delve into an area of early childhood education that I have not explored before. It is unfamiliar territory and just a little bit scary.

I will confess that my knowledge and experience with early childhood policies and systems is rather limited. As I read the resources in this first module, I felt overwhelmed. I had to read the chapters of the course text more than once, trying to break the information down and relate it to my own work in the field before I could assimilate it. I was looking for something to hold onto that could help me get a footing in this complex terrain.

As I began to contemplate three goals that might assist me in becoming more effective in my professional role, I realized that my own lack of familiarity with policies and systems was probably shared by others who, like me, have focused on work inside the classroom. As a teacher, I have focused my attention on nurturing children and supporting families—with only a passing nod at the policies and systems that rule the field. It also occurred to me that families of young children (who are the true stakeholders here) are, perhaps, similarly unfamiliar with the policies and systems that will surely impact them on the most fundamental level.

With these thoughts in mind, I selected these three goals for myself:

  • To establish a good foundation of knowledge about the history of early childhood systems—how they began and how they evolved. Achieving this goal will help me to build an understanding of EC systems “from the ground up” and relate it to current and future systems
  • To identify and understand the policies and systems in my own state—to discover who is “calling the shots” in my own backyard, how they are influencing the early childhood field, and how their thinking aligns (or not) with other states.  Achieving this goal will allow me to enter into dialogue and to question public policies that impact young children and families
  • To examine early childhood systems and policies with the spotlight on developmentally appropriate practices (and common sense) and to share my findings both within the early childhood field and beyond.  Achieving this goal will help me to advocate for young children and families, shedding light on policies that are developmentally inappropriate and harmful to young children

As I contemplate these goals and this course, I can feel the excitement building. I know this course will be challenging, but it holds the promise of giving me the tools I need to begin to form and articulate my own vision of what early childhood education could be—and that, to me, is thrilling.



12 thoughts on “Course Goals

  1. Dear Julie,
    I don’t want to be involved in “patching holes”. I agree with you that this course can be important to help us understand present systems and policies. Then the challenge becomes how do we enact change. An overriding “feer” people have is change. Unfortunately, if a system is working for an individual, then that person will try to preserve that system- period. If we define success in ECE as how the child matures into adulthood to be a productive human being in society, then we can go back and look at what is really important in the early years. If we continue to herd children as sheep into academic performers measured by eventual power, fame, and money; then we can expect our social ills to continue.

    • Hi Dan,
      Absolutely true. So, perhaps the first challenge is to discover exactly who is reaping the benefits from these policies–it is certainly not the children. I agree with you that education policy should be developed from the ground-up–no structure will stand if built from the top- down. Thanks for the response–I am eager to talk more!

  2. Hello Julia,
    Let me begin by letting you know how attractive and engaging your blog page is. I must admit that I had much of the same anxiety that you did when I begin to explore the description about this course. My knowledge regarding early childhood systems and policies is very limited. Like you I am looking forward to learning just how these systems are developed, and how they are assessed to ensure that they are serving the purpose for which they were established “the children.” I am looking forward to learning more about systems and policies and in the process gain the knowledge necessary to bring about a change in my community, district and state. Being an advocate for young children is what being a professional educator is all about. Having an understanding of how early childhood systems are designed, developed, and supported will allow us to be a voice for the children and families who need us most. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for sharing you goals with us.

    Angela Starks

    • Thank you Angela! I agree–we must be willing to learn all we can about policies and systems in order to successfully advocate for children and families. I think every early childhood professional should take a course similar to this one and be informed about the who, what, and why of policy-making. If we are to question those policies that hinder and harm, our voices would be stronger together.

  3. Yes, Julie. We are so focused on the proximal issues that we don’t even realize the impact of policies that loom over us until they begin to affect our practice, at which point we feel wronged and abused… when being more informed and active earlier might have changed things. One of the frustrations educators express is that educational policy is made by non-educators who have no idea what teaching real children is like. These people will never know, because they will never teach. We must find ways to sit with them at their table, not wonder why they’re not visiting us at ours, if we’re ever to be the force children need us to be….. Thanks for this…. I’ll email you your blog rubric.


    • Exactly! It seems that we just blindly obey whatever mandate is handed down, no matter how ridiculous or uninformed. For example, the director of the preschool where I work just returned from a licensing meeting with a stack of new hoops for us to jump through. Among the more ludicrous is a new mandate that requires us to monitor the children’s use of “stuffies” and dolls. We are supposed to make a note of which child is first to pick up a stuffed animal or a doll and make sure that no other child touches that same toy for the rest of the day so that there is no potential for spreading germs–good grief–nice way to foster sharing. I think it is time that educators became empowered to question these mandates and spread the word to parents and communities. A collective “no” would be so refreshing.

  4. Julie,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate the fact that you were honest about your difficulty with the information shared in the text. Like you I also found the information to be completely new and was a lot to understand. The goals you chose really focus on your development as an educator which speak volumes for you as a teacher. I think that its great that you want to develop a strong knowledge of very challenging information because you know that your students will benefit. I appreciate your thoughtful post!


  5. Hello Julia,

    Most of us are in the same boat in that we lack knowledge about the policies in our education system. I think your goals are very reachable and I am hoping that after this course to have a better understanding myself. I am quite guilty of only wanting to teach or have interactions with the children and the policies/politics never entered into my mind. Who better to have a say in the policies and procedures but those of us, who work with children and their families, those of us who are in the trenches everyday! Thank you for your blog post.


  6. Hi Natasha,
    I know exactly what you mean–it is so easy to get caught up in our teaching that we let others decide what is best for the field–whether they are qualified to do so or not. I would love to see more teachers empowered to ask “why?”.
    Thanks for the response!

  7. Dear Julia,
    I enjoyed reading your blog and feel the same as you do about learning the foundation of the early childhood systems. Also I believe learning about the policies that affect the early childcare profession is a must in order for the system to not crumble. The quote that your started your blog really speaks volumes ,and I strongly believe that the ECE profession can not afford to be stuck in this paradox, because our young children will be the ones to suffer the most.

  8. Thank you for your blog post Julia. I too was very nervous about this course because of my lack of knowledge but like you, I am excited to learn more in order to better help and serve our children and families. I agree with you and the others who have commented that by knowing policy we can advocate for our children and families and we can better help them. I also agree with you that by knowing policies in our states and districts and by actively participating we can help develop better and more appropriate policies. In the state I work in we have had “interesting” policies written as well, yikes. I am excited to learn more with you in this course to better help the families in our communities! Thank you, Cissy

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