We have planned a number of events to celebrate the United Nations Universal Children’s Day tomorrow.  We are kicking off a series of blog posts reflecting on childhood and children with this post by Kerry Jordan-Daus, our Head of School of Childhood and Education Science in the Faculty of Education:

In my role as Head of the School, I feel it is very important that we join in and contribute to the most important debate; Children and Childhood.

Over the course of the next few days, colleagues will join me in sharing their reflections on Childhood. November 20th is the Universal Children’s Day, a day that has been marked since 1954 by the UN.

I am going to start by thinking and reflecting on my own childhood, growing up in a very small rural hamlet in rural Lincolnshire, an area known as the Fens.  Looking back at the small, rural, close knit community, I recall spending a lot of time outside playing. I read books from the mobile library which came fortnightly, grew strawberries and peas and looked after chickens. Most importantly, I spent time with my grandmother who taught me to knit and to cook.  My grandmother was my dream maker.

The bus picked us up to take us to school, 30 minutes or so to the small primary school, over an hour to my secondary school. There was very limited public transport so I cycled loads: to go to Guides, to play hockey, to see my friends. School was really special for me. I loved it. That’s not to say there weren’t unhappy times but overall I knew by doing well I could realise my dream – to be a school teacher.

Being one of five children, I now think about how hard it was for my parents. They worked long hours to ensure we were fed, we had a roof over our heads and I know that at times it was a real struggle. When my trainers fell apart, there was no money to replace them. I remember the kindness of my teachers, who made me believe I could achieve my dream through their actions. I remember Miss Lucas, my PE teacher, finding me a pair in lost property.  I remember Miss Deung, my English teacher, giving me a bag of books to read.  They were my dream makers.

Every child should have a dream and every child should be encouraged to dream and encouraged to believe that they can. As I reflect on the importance of Universal Children’s Day, it makes me both happy and sad. Sad, angry and determined: because I know that for too many children, their experiences are not joyful, but full of pain, hardship, hunger, violence, fear, loneliness and despair.

But I can make a difference and so can you. My work as a teacher, as an educator, has made a difference and will continue to make a difference. Thank you to all those who helped me achieve my dream. I have tried to do this for others.  Through that gift of belief and hope, through our words and our actions, we can all be dream makers.