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Becoming Friends with Time
January 15, 2024
Be fast when it makes sense to be fast and be slow when slowness is called for. Seek to live at what musicians call the tempo giusto - the right speed.
-Carl Honoré, In Praise of Slow
In her book, Slow Knowledge and the Unhurried Child: Time for Slow Pedagogies in Early Childhood Education, Alison Clark invites us to consider - and reconsider - time from many perspectives. What do we mean by ‘wasted time’ or ‘play time’? Clark invokes and compares ‘clock time’ to other views, including 'expansive time' (Povey et al. 2021); 'stretched time' (Cuffaro 1995) ‘whiling time' or 'worthwhile time' (Jardine 2008, 2012, 2013), and introduces readers to theologian John Swinton, who spoke of ‘timefulness’ and ‘becoming friends with time.’ All of this feels counterpoint to what Clark identifies as “the overarching need to 'get there faster' which at the same time opens up the question of where is the destination; what is the purpose of education?”

In the Complementary Curriculum Approach, Lisa Porter Kuh and Iris Chin Ponte point out the relationship between time, choice, and exploration, “Supporting children to make choices requires teachers to think intentionally about their daily schedules and to consider how they support children’s right to choose and linger with materials. In order for children to have enough time to explore the choices offered to them, they need sufficient blocks of open time.”

This dovetails well with Clark’s quote from Harriet Cuffaro (1995):

“Nonfragmented stretches of time not only give children the opportunity for more in-depth involvement and experimentation, but also allow room for situations to evolve, to become meaningful in a way that they may not be at first-glance. Within this stretched time, greater possibility exists for making choices and for experiencing the consequences of one's doing. Such an approach requires that time be viewed as perspective, as rhythm, as opportunity, and the present moment be fully valued.”

Hear more about slow knowledge from Alison Clark in this conversation with That Early Childhood Nerd Heather Bernt-Santy and Illuminating Care author Carol Garboden Murray.


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Kirsten Haugen · January 16, 2024
Eugene, OR, United States

Francis, our Exchange team was just talking about that today, thinking back on decades of Exchange articles, and how we can bring forth some of the classics and shine a light on the threads that carry through. Often such influence is passed along, person to person, through articles, conversations, etc, and the origins get lost. We think it's important to follow those threads. Thanks for the 'history' lesson!

Francis Wardle · January 15, 2024
University of Phoenix/ Red Rocks Community College
Denver, Colorado, United States

It's interesting to me that when someone suggests a new idea, it often is not. In 1992 the late Dr. James Christie and I published an article in Young Children entitled, How much time is needed for play? It reported on a study of 4–5-year-olds that showed children need an extended timeframe to engage in mature play; otherwise, they simply skim the process and never fully engage in the activity. What's old is new!

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