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  • Skribentens bildSuzanne Axelsson

10 years of blogging

in October 2012 I ventured into blogging. It started as a space to explore pedagogy, play and childhood, it was never really intended for other people, and that remains at this blog's core - a space to play with what education could be, I just happen to do it publicly!

I started over on Blogger, and there are still many of my posts still there, sometimes I import a post and re-write it with my current reflections, because really we are always evolving as people and what I used to think ten years ago has been slowly evolving, changing and will always do that as I listen to others and learn new knowledge and new perspectives.

One of my very first posts was about working with a group of preschoolers where for some of them drawing a dragon had become filled with anxiety - so I described my process of deconstructing the experience to fill it with joy and bravery instead - and we focused only on creating dragon-skins. It was also an experimentation of how an atelier could be used - not stationary but flowing with movement throughout the room. This has been something I have continued to use ever since - design art experiences that mean the children need to collaborate with each other, maybe not always on the space piece, but sometimes with the space, or the materials and even time...

My blog is now a document of my process as an educator, and while I have not included everything I have learned, or all the mistakes - many are there in the different posts. Not including them has never been about saving my face, but always from the respect of the children I work with. It's easier to talk about those things now when I can be more vague about when or where and such details, so that the essence of the story can be shared - but only if that story has a purpose to help adults better understand children, the complexity of play and how we can be better at being play-responsive educators. It's a bit like risky play - if the benefits don't outweigh the negative risks, then there is no point. (and in play it means attuning to each child to gain an understanding of what the benefits are as they are not always visible - to us watching, and even to the player)

I thought I would share some images from the last 10 years...

This is from one of my earliest posts and was simply sharing that play, learning and teaching doesn't have to be complicated, and also that it is not always physically active. This started with one child just watching how the rain water went down the drain, and eventually the whole group ended up being totally fascinated. We had also played in the tunnel just in the background of this photo where the ground was dry and we transformed it into wet footprint art by running in circles in and out of the rain covered ground until we had made a circle wet patch with a dry centre. Simply put the rain became our loose part in many different ways.

Here is a photo of the dragon-skin creation. Funnily enough I was just writing about it for my Swedish book on Play, Risk and Teaching, so it was a happy surprise when I realised I was rewriting the story 10 years later to the month! The children were using loose-parts as their painting tools to create different dragon skin patterns, they had test paper to experiment with so that they could make informed choices about their skin designs while maximising on the play and exploration.

I have also made lots and lots of quote images over the years - in the beginning all of them were quotes from others, but slowly over time I have been starting to use my own statements as quotes. This has been a big part of my own journey, as in the beginning it was quotes that speak to me and I didn't want to forget, while now my own quotes are about short insights into my thinking. I think writing a book, and several chapters for books has really shifted my own thinking about how I can communicate - that and social media, I mean I came to Instagram quite late, I remember making an account, but never using it at first, it has taken time to get comfortable with all of these different media forms.

In 2013 I started the International Fairy Tea Party as a way to celebrate play and imagination, and every year children and their adults around the world engage in magical play in their local context - some indoors, many outdoors. The aim is to create a sense of play community across the globe - a togetherness. That despite our differences on the September equinox we are all united by play, imagination and the same number of daylight hours no matter where we are our our circumstances. Social justice has ALWAYS been important, and EVERY child's right to be valued, to participate and to feel belonging. Next year will be 10 years of celebrating - ALL are welcome.

There has been a lot of posts about light and shadow play over the years. Many to do with together art and philosophy with children. My visits to different countries - Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Greece, USA, Canada, China, Australia, Italy and more. I have had the great fortune to meet people online to share thinking and enter dialogue.

All of this has been contributing towards Original Learning. Even the name of my blog Interaction Imagination is found in Original Learning as two of the essential threads.

Interaction was chosen as inspiration from Malaguzzi (The Reggio Emilia Approach) as he stated that it was an important word and should be found at the entrance of every preschool. After all this is at the core of everything we do - we interact with people, things, nature, the world, with knowledge and out imaginations. Imagination was chosen because it has always been about imagining what is possible, of going beyond what I know and daring to discover. In a week I will be in Athens again to meet up with the educators at Dorothy Snot Kindergarten and others. I will also be travelling to Washington DC to be a part of the NAEYC conference to talk about "How to become a play-responsive Educator". Online I will be connecting with Edgehill University and taking part of their Holistic Week where I will be spending a morning talking first about preschools in Sweden and then about my work with the forest which lead to Arboreal Methodologies with Jayne Osgood - who I will finally meet in real life in early December to hold a workshop on "getting lost" in Sligo, Ireland. Because to find new ways, we have to dare to get lost. In the new year my book on Original Learning in English will be finally in print, and so will my book in Swedish on Play, Risk and Teaching - which focusses on the risk thread of Original Learning. And my journey with Nona and Roberta with #GrammarOfDrawing will continue.

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