Who do you believe?

What is a professional to do? CATHARINE HYDON asks when events outside of our control upend all our professional certainties and make the present and the future complex and hard to navigate. This blog considers another angle on professionalism in times of uncertainty—a conversation worth having. Scroll down to find other blogs in the series and more resources.

I don’t know about you, but each morning in recent times when I open my computer and check out the notifications on my phone, I am inundated with a plethora of messages from organisations far and wide offering me updates, ideas, blogs, online packages and webinars all aimed at helping navigate these unprecedented times.

They all seem well-intended quoting experts and offering compelling ideas about what do or not do. Some are from organisations that I have known and respected for many years, and they like me, confess to working it out as they go, with the best collective efforts of their people. Others have popped up seemingly out of nowhere with an idea, that perhaps, will now have its day in the sun.

Spend a minute or two on the main social media platforms, and you can hardly keep up with the commentary. In one moment it offers authoritative advice from traditional sources such as departments of health and the Prime Minister’s office, the next is peddling misinformation and showing footage of the worst human behaviour and to top it off these platforms give you a glimpse into the true heart of humanity as musicians share their immense talent with us all!

And matching the large community surge in social media commentary there has been an explosion of educators talking to each other online sharing their frustrations, anxieties and concerns and at times unleashing the pent-up anger of years of being undervalued and frankly underpaid. One blog I read claimed that over 500 teachers had joined two online conversations in two days—I am guessing we will see more of this.

If you are left despairing about who to believe and where the truth lies and how this space could possibly be helpful in your professional life, you are not alone.

But what is a professional to do? Join in or back off? Who are we to believe? What obligations do childhood professionals have as we sort through this, at times, chaotic collection of information?  What do we do once we have decided? Share or not share?

As with all dilemmas, the choice is most often between two good things.

It is good and healthy to stay connected to each other and use the online world to help us think creatively. It is also good and helpful to use professional judgement about the credibility of sources and not spread misinformation that is emotive and ill-informed.

The ECA Code of Ethics provides childhood professionals with a way to determine an ethical way forward.

  • Fundamentally our obligation is to work in the ‘best interests of children’ – how is what I am reading or seeing in their best interests? Is it in children’s best interests if I press the like button or post my thoughts after a very stressful day at work and home?
  • Is what I am reading or sharing or offering my opinion on, based on ‘research, inquiry and practice-based evidence’ – if in doubt do more investigation until you can be sure.
  • None of our decision is undertaken alone. As you consume the growing amount of information out there, do so in partnership with others (colleagues and families and where appropriate children) and together work at what is best.
  • And always contribute with respect, understanding that our ethical obligations are profoundly about responsive and reciprocal relationships, and these are central to our ongoing work with children and communities don’t forget.

This blog is part of a series that hopes to support childhood educators (those who work with children birth to 8 and who values and are committed to ECA Code of Ethics) to navigate these extraordinary times in ethical ways.  Stay tuned.

  • Learn more about the ECA Code of Ethics here.
  • Find another blog in Catharine Hydon’s series Professionalism in uncertain times at The Spoke: Having each other’s back and stay tuned for another one soon: Tuning into families.
  • Times of crisis also expose our leadership strengths and vulnerabilities. Have you considered the ECA Leadership Program? You can find more information here.
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Catharine Hydon

Catharine has extensive experience in the early childhood sector in Australia and overseas. Beginning as a teacher in a sessional kindergarten program Catharine has gone on to manage a range of services for children and their families from long day settings to community hubs. Catharine has a Masters in Early Childhood Education specialising in early childhood practice, policy and governance, the delivery of integrated services and the exploration of innovative programs to engage vulnerable children and their families. Catharine draws on this study in her work with practitioners to consider how theory connects and informs practice. Catharine’s involvement in the early childhood field is an important part of her commitment to the sector. She is a long-time member of the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) currently serves as the Co-chair of the Reconciliation Advisory Group and is a regular contributor in ECA publications. Catharine has been a member of the ECA Code of Ethics working group for the last two reviews and is a co-author on the recently published Ethics in Action Implementation guide. Catharine is also a member of the Respectful Relationship Expert Advisory Group for the Victorian Department of Education and the EY-10 Curriculum and Assessment Committee for the VCAA. Catharine is a dynamic speaker and collaborative facilitator and is skilled at engaging professionals in reflective dialogue and creative conversations.

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