23rd annual RIE Conference for Parents and Professionals in Los Angeles, I sat reflecting on my work with, and wishes for babies and families. Attending the conference had been an especially poignant experience, as we had marked the fifth year of Magda's passing the day before, and Bence introduced this web site to conference attendees in honor of Magda. It was wonderful to connect with friends old and new, and energizing to attend workshops given by dedicated and skilled educarers.
It seems an appropriate time to share a letter Magda wrote while on an airplane returning from a trip to Alabama, where she had been invited to lecture at a conference for caregivers...
I am sitting in the airplane, flying home after three delightful days in Birmingham, Alabama. I certainly appreciated spending two days with the same people I was lecturing to. I also enjoyed the very kind colleagues who picked me up, drove me to and from the airport, went shopping with me and invited me to their homes.
I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of Birmingham: lovely homes, beautiful scenery, so green it looked like a painting, and the people so very kind. I felt welcomed. It would be nice to know how well I was understood, whether care providers will change because they have listened to me. I keep wondering why professionals want infants to do what they cannot do rather than enjoy what they are doing. Who gains? Is earlier better?
Sometimes I daydream about a society in which nobody has to work more than five hours a day, where children and adults can develop at their own rate and follow their own interests, where schools help children find special areas of interest and ways to learn about them. Is it possible that when those children grow up, they may not need to escape by taking drugs, becoming criminals, being "outsiders" and feeling alienated from society? On the contrary, they would enjoy believing that they are helping to make the world a better place.
I keep hoping that people will make their jobs easier and more pleasurable. Both the children and teachers would benefit. The recipe is so simple: observe more-interfere less.
P.S. I would like to invite everybody who has an idea of how to give children a better start to write to us!
(If you'd like to listen to the keynote speech given by Magda Gerber at The RIE Conference in 1979,
Suppose: "Imagine you felt accepted and supported just as you are, appreciated for everything you do, celebrated and observed in each new accomplishment and allowed time to explore, try, experiment and experience life without judgment or fear of failure. How would it feel to build a lifetime from this strong foundation?"
Suppose quote written by: Linda Hinrichs, RIE Associate, and Children's Corner Play Center Owner/Director, Contact: