Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Brilliant Words of Prof. Herbert W. Vilakazi

flickr CC image via Dave_B_

Unifying values and practice in child and youth care programmes:

"The problems of children and of youth, giving rise to child and youth care programs, can only begin to be solved in that society of humankind’s dream; a more collective-oriented society than at present, when the father of the child shall be every man as old as the child’s father; when the mother of the child shall be every woman as old as the child’s mother; a society of responsibility of the entire community; a society without poverty; without the inequalities of society members, based upon race, class, or sex; a society without the use of violence against other members of society; a society without any exploitation and oppression of any group by any other group; a society of equals; a thoroughly democratic society; last, but not least a society that shall have, once more, incorporated productive labour into the educational process."

The notion that children are our future is undeniable. It is from the minds and souls of children that every future discovery, every idea, every solution and all hope will come. Herbert Vilakazi's opening address to the National Association of Child Care Workers 1991 Biennial Conference (http://tinyurl.com/yfxzdwn) in South Africa provides brilliant insight to how we need to think and act if we are to support today's children as our gifts to the future.

We cannot know where the next Beethoven, Einstein or Mother Teresa will come from. Great things are possible, and probable as human history has proven. Educators today need to support children's natural curiosity and spirit to learn in ways that don't stifle or restrict their potential to do these great things. The world we know is changing, and it always has, but not at the rate or in the manner we are witnessing today. Today, in the midst of what amounts to a perfect storm within the social, political, geographical, technological and economic realms of the new global society, transformational change is inevitable. To deny this would be ridiculous. To deny that we as citizens of the emerging global society must be proactive to ensure the transformation is managed effectively, and results in an improved society, would be even more ridiculous. 

Within his 1991 address, Professor Vilakazi touches on what I believe to be the key to managing the transformation of our world. With respect to the issue of caring for children he states that,
We are not further along, than peasant culture, in our knowledge of child psychology. What we should do, in our efforts to increase and improve our knowledge of child psychology, is not only to study what our specialists child psychologists have written, but also to go out to learn, and collect, and record, and collate carefully, the psychological and psychoanalytic theory of childhood contained in peasant cultures, and to integrate or synthesize the two. This applies to all spheres of knowledge.
I believe Vilakazi is saying that there is contemporary wisdom to be gained through modern scientific processes that will help us continue to learn and develop insight into how to maximize our support for children, but also that there exists timeless wisdom yet to be acknowledged by contemporaries about how caregivers have effectively supported children since the beginning of mankind. It is the integrative nature of combining the two spheres of wisdom that would allow us the largest capacity to package our 'gifts to the future' so the promises we intend them to offer will be fully realized.

Our human tendency to debate opposing ideologies without apology until one is accepted by a majority resulting in a "winning" idea or concept is counter-intuitive to progress. On the contrary, the integrative mind understands that within the current change climate we find ourselves immersed in, our viability as a global society will depend on a synthesis of ideas that should not be considered dichotomous, but rather complementary to one another. By taking two or more perspectives on effective and positive child development and combining their best elements into a synthesized hybrid of all of them, a new paradigm is born, and those who brought each perspective to the process no longer operate inedpendently and in defense of their point of view, but rather interdependently in support of each other and the best possible course of action.

I believe that our children will be best prepared for the future when we as KAREgivers are able to move to an interdependent and proactive paradigm of child development that acknowledges and celebrates diverse thoughts and theories no matter where, and from what point in history they originate.
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