And the guillotine finally falls…

This blog post is published today almost three months since it was originally written. The reasons for this will become clear if you indulge me by reading on…

I had fully intended the last Early Childhood blog ‘Oh no…not on my watch‘ to be the last for a while and was sure that when I tapped the ‘publish’ button I would feel satisfaction that the story of my disquiet was told. However, that catharsis did not come and I am writing this last post knowing that it may not come for a while yet. I will be unable to tap ‘publish’ until the time is right and even then it will take time to forgive myself.

This will be a shorter post than others. I can now give my final confession. I started this series of blog posts knowing that a decision had been made to cut the work-based part-time Early Childhood course that I look after. I say look after, but it feels in this moment, like I have been a neglectful carer. I, and other colleagues, have fought tooth and nail over the years for these students who I identify so closely with. They have managed to save one, more generic, part-time course which is a chink of light in the gloom, although not suitable as a full and relevant early years option. I am told that if the climate changes perhaps the course will be reinstated…however that feels hollow today. The axe has hovered above university part-time courses for many years as recruitment has dwindled. We find ourselves in different times, where money outweighs the needs of human lives and I was unable to raise my quiet voice into a roar until the wheels of the bureaucrats had turned.

I didn’t realise that when the final cut came that it would be so physically painful. The feelings that followed became like some sort of medieval torture. On its descent the axe turned instead to a guillotine that chopped off the head, and the feelings that followed were akin to a ripping off of my hands that cared for the students that I identify with, and stabbed at my heart which lays so completely in early childhood education and care. This may sound over-egged to some, and overly emotional, but my experiences in early years have had a hand in shaping my identity for so long. For me the head, heart and hands are inextricably linked. It is hard to separate what I do, from who I am and how I feel.

My writing, which kind people have described as ‘passionate’ and ‘raw’ and which others have said mirrored their own experiences, came from that place of deep frustration and all of the emotion that accompanies that. I feel frustrated that my quiet voice has gone unheard and is often shouted down by others with more powerful voices. I feel guilt with the weight of responsibility heavy on my shoulders; that something good will be lost when I was supposed to be caring for it. I feel deeply sad that the very ‘raison d’être’ for me working at university has been pulled from under me. I will still have a job, as others are wont to emphasise as they feel it reassures me…

To them I say: it really doesn’t. I stepped into this part of my life because the university experience had made such a difference to me from the place I came from. University was an opportunity which gave me wings when I never thought I could fly. I have revelled in watching the same liberating experience happen for those like me.

So I ask forgiveness that I didn’t start my first blog with the full honesty I cherish in others. I am sorry that my quiet voice did not save something I hold dear. I promise I will continue to fight for early childhood care and education once the pain has diminished and I gather my strength again. Meanwhile, I will continue to offer my support to the last of my part-time early childhood students to encourage them to spread their wings and fly.

However for this moment please forgive me as I raise my quiet voice into one loud visceral ROAR…

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