By Beverley Hartman, Head Teacher
Bing Nursery School continues to provide a warm welcome to educators from near and far to further our ties to those committed to the education of young children.
During the 2003-2004 academic year, Bing hosted and provided tours for groups from Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan and for two long-term visitors from South America. Each visiting group included administrators and teachers. We enjoyed learning more about other cultures’ early childhood education practices as well as hearing observations and responding to questions about Bing.
As part of Bing’s ongoing mission, director Jeanne Lepper arranges for Bing teachers to join tours and lead small groups, giving them the opportunity to articulate the Bing history, philosophy and play-based curriculum. The commingling of Bing faculty with visitors promotes dialogue. Bing’s own teachers gain insights into Bing culture and educational practice through the observations and questions of their international colleagues.
Visitors’ reflections often include appreciation of the environment designed especially for children, the use of basic materials including unit blocks and the quality of the interactions between teachers and children. Visitors comment on the importance of well-educated and experienced teachers in the lives of children in an evolving modern society. Many countries and cultures around the world are not far apart in these concerns and priorities for children.
On occasion, teachers from other countries have the chance to visit the classroom for a longer and more in-depth experience. Recently circumstances allowed two guests from Brazil to observe for an extended time in East AM this year. One of these interested visitors Luciana Kingston has a background in psychology and her husband currently attends graduate school at Stanford. Visitor Melissa Menezes, a teacher, works with her family operating two schools. She learned about Bing through a relative of founding director Edith Dowley and wanted to learn more about the program and philosophy to articulate its practices in her family’s schools. Bing teachers likewise benefit from the thoughtful interactions with these dedicated and intelligent visitors.
Bing staff and teachers hope that through these international encounters the Bing model of early childhood education may foster positive and productive relationships throughout the learning community. The ripple effect may be advocacy for young childhood education, including innovations in curriculum design, facilities and school materials, beyond the Bing community.