• Suzanne Axelsson

The Story of sharing

Now this is not about what you might think... it's not at about how to get preschoolers to share, or the dialogue about if they should be sharing or not. This is about sharing our adult knowledge and experiences. It is also an important part of the Original Learning Approach.


I know that I have learned so much from others - sometimes it has been their expertise that I have listened to, read or interacted with some other way, and I acknowledge this at the start of my book on Original Learning. Sometimes is has been as I talk and chat and our mutual questions to each other help us both terraform our own landscapes of thinking. Sometimes it has been when I present and hold workshops and I get asked questions that push my thinking into a deeper place of reflection and I am offered a way to make new connections between my own knowledges.


I value this so much. And I acknowledge that my thinking is rooted and nourished by the thinking of others. It's seldom new, but maybe I can phrase it in a new way that opens possibilities for fresh thinking in others?


This month I will, again, be a speaker at Teacher Tom's Play Summit, this time together with me #GrammarOfDrawing colleagues Nona Orbach and Roberta Pucci.

I think it was shortly after I started blogging in October 2012 that my path crossed Tom's path and we became aware of each other's determination to bring more awareness to the play rights, competence and autonomy of young children. At the time my blog was mostly a space for self reflection, that was open to others to read, while his was a well read, enjoyed and valued space (and continues to be).

I remember meeting him for the first time in person in 2019 in Athens at the first Play on Athens conference. I was really nervous, of course I shouldn't have been, but I was and that always makes me even more awkward than what I am, and even more nerdy which means I talk even more about early childhood education to soothe my nerves. A week of being together I was able to see him less as a celebrity and more as a person, just like me, trying to learn as much as possible and to share that with others.

This is why I value participating on his play summit.

People, all over the world, who are interested in early childhood, children, education and of course play can listen, for free, to a range of speakers from around the world share their expertise, experience and knowledge. (link to sign up is above on the words Teacher Tom's Play Summit). There are options to upgrade so that the talks can be listened to for longer than 24 hours, and other perks - but for me the most important is that knowledge is being freely shared.


Personally I would never be able to arrange such a summit myself, so I am always in awe of people who can. I really struggle to reach out to people - my autistic brain just can't get beyond the idea that I am disturbing people. So I am always grateful to be a part of these kinds of things where I am the person that responds and I don't have to do the scary bits.

I remember the very first online interview I did, and that was terrifying. As a person who could barely speak on the phone, and avoids those kinds of interactions as best I can, this kind of distance interaction has been a steep learning curve. I am so grateful for the visual part of these interviews as it taught me that the problem with telephones was that I am a visual listener and not being able to see meant I was struggling to hear what was being said (plus the unknowing of answering a phone pushed my into a state of anxiety that I nearly always missed the first few sentences). But maybe this is not stuff you are here to read? haha!


Anyway, Tom always makes it easy to talk. He asks questions, he is "bouncy" and alert and responds in a way that keeps the rhythm going. Which is another essential for my autistic brain. Because I have learned to mirror in order to know how to socially interact. If I don't have someone to "bounce" off then my awkwardness and introvertedness become much more apparent. Believe it or not I can even go totally quiet!


It is sooo important that we share our thinking with each other - all our different stories, so that we can all understand that there is not just one way to be a teacher, a learner, a parent, a carer. In a world of standardisations it is even more vital that we celebrate all our diversities. This is another part of why appreciate Tom's gathering of people, because I know that he is taking the time, and making an effort, to include as many different stories as possible... not the usual white cis-male normative tale but those stories that are forgotten, pushed aside, unheard... he strives to make space for them to aired. This is something that I value enormously. And I think we all should do this in our everyday lives. Take the time to create the time and space to listen to new stories and perspectives to broaden our minds.

It's a win win situation.

It's a win because through listening we can validate others (and I mean listening, not just hearing words).

It's a win because through listening we learn, and can gain knowledge that helps us understand all the children in our care better, or understand why others do the things they do which can bring us to acceptance (rather than prejudice or just tolerance). The 2022 summit is being held between the 13 and 17th August, so there is still time to sign up. You can read Tom's blogpost about our upcoming discussion on Product, process, play and permission by clicking on the link.




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