Over 600 educators, students, parents, and childhood experts from around the country attended the day-long Early Childhood Conference "In Defense of Childhood: Keeping the Joy of Learning Alive" held at City College of New York (CCNY) in Manhattan on March 10, 2012. The conference, organized by Beverly Falk, Professor and Director of the Graduate Programs in Early Childhood Education at CCNY's School of Education, and William Crain, Professor of Psychology at CCNY and member of Sarah Lawrence College's Child Development Institute's Professional Advisory Board, brought together representatives from academia and institutions that focus on childhood development. The Child Development Institute was a supporting organization of the Conference.
Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor Emerita, Lesley University and author of Taking Back Childhood, gave the keynote in which she addressed the current reality of what his happening in early childhood classrooms and settings versus what is known about how children learn and what is developmentally appropriate. After the keynote, conference-goers had a choice of participating in 39 sessions led by experts in early childhood education that included workshops and discussions for effective practices to enhance the life of the child. Of the 39 sessions, 9 were led by experts from the Sarah Lawrence College community including faculty, staff, and graduate students from the Child Development Institute, Early Childhood Center, and the Art of Teaching graduate program. The topics of the workshops led by Sarah Lawrence staff and faculty included: exploring the successes of Finland's school system, advocating for play in the classroom, using metaphor and aesthetics in education, and using storytelling as a path to early literacy development.
The conference ended with a performance by the 4th grade African drummers from the Bronx Community Charter school followed by the conference closing panel which included Director of Art of Teaching program and member of the Child Development Institute faculty group and psychology faculty, Sara Wilford, who addressed "The Good Childhood/The Good School: Giving Our Children What They Deserve" from a global perspective.
Conference presenters and participants walked away with shared inspiration and dedication to advocate for a meaningful educational experience for all children. To extend the spirit of the conference beyond the conference walls and to expand opportunities for collaboration, conference organizers have created a facebook page and are encouraging participants to stay connected through the conference website. For additional information about the conference including a full listing of workshops, click here. To learn more about the Sarah Lawrence workshops at the conference, click here (PDF).