Honouring the Child: Changing Ways of Teaching


Excerpt of Foreword by Dr. Lilian Katz, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

When the "integrated day" practices were flourishing, Proctor was a beginning teacher in British Columbia, Canada. Always eager to learn and improve her teaching, she seized the opportunity to broaden her experience and knowledge of teaching young children as an exchange teacher in England. Proctor takes us with her as she overcomes her doubts about what she observes, and gradually becomes inspired and instructed by her experiences of teaching in the UK. She also shares with us in ample detail her own trial and error learning in Vancouver, BC. The stories told here reveal the challenges, and satisfaction as well as the stresses, and tough moments of learning how to engage young children in their own learning.

Proctor reports her observations, feelings and practices so well that we can almost feel that we are there alongside her. Throughout the story reported so clearly and in rich detail, Proctor shares her experiences of observing and practicing the traditional as well as the new methods on many levels. She invites readers to participate in a complex journey as she addresses questions about teaching that no doubt most of us have also asked ourselves and to which we all want the answers.

Another great strength of the book is that Proctor is honest and open in discussing in detail the difficulties and doubts she experienced within herself and shared with colleagues as they developed more informal child-sensitive practices in Vancouver. She shares with us her feelings about the "upsetting" times and the philosophical divisions and walls between colleagues. Because Proctor does not hesitate to admit to difficulties or errors, we can appreciate the enormous effort required for real change.

This enlightening work comes at an opportune time when insight into the potential harm that may be done by excessive emphasis on early formal instruction and frequent testing of young children is urgently needed. In addition, it raises the questions for creative and thoughtful people who are making a career commitment to teaching young children.

Excerpt of Foreword by Dr. Sylvia C. Chard, Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta

In this book Proctor has produced a masterpiece of professional autobiography that tells the story school by school, colleague by colleague, child by child, of her own search for professional fulfillment as a teacher. The story includes her experience of the ups and downs of life as a reflective practitioner. It seems to omit few details that could have any bearing on the direction of her own developing sense of who she is as a teacher. For young teachers reading the book there is encouragement. There are stories of hope in relation to the development of a professional identity, and the development of a coherence of practical and theoretical understanding.

There are many accounts of recognition by children and parents who appreciated the work of this exceptional teacher. There are recognizable dilemmas described and stories of thoughtful, painstaking approaches to the challenges of working with colleagues and administrators with different ideas of how things should be done. Successful teamwork is described with its rhythm of give and take, principle and compromise. Proctor's stories implicitly encourage mastery of what it takes to work with others in a common enterprise of value to all.

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