– Paromita Sengupta (Bangalore)
International early years’ educator Dr. Rebecca Isbell teaches the Ph D programme in early childhood care and education (ECCE) at the East Tennessee State University, Johnson City (USA). Despite also being a busy motivational speaker and ECCE consultant, Dr Isbell has authored 13 books and penned numerous essays on creativity, learning environments, literacy, the arts and child development.
Newspeg. In early September, Dr. Isbell was invited to deliver a (virtual) keynote address (‘United to nurture young creative thinkers who can flourish in the changing 21st century world’) at the second edition of the International Summit on Early Years (ISEY) — a global summit on early childhood care & education — organised online by the Bangalore-based KLAY (Kids Learning And You) Group which runs a chain of over 150 preschools and day care centres countrywide.
History. Awarded a Ph D in early childhood education: literacy and child development by the University of Tennessee, Dr. Isbell began her career as an elementary school teacher and later taught gifted and talented children at several elementary schools. Subsequently in 1979, East Tennessee State University in Johnson City appointed her as faculty to teach final year early childhood education undergrads. Since then for over two decades, she taught courses offered in the varsity’s undergraduate programme on child, infant/toddler development, language and literacy development, creativity and the arts, and curriculum design and headed its Centre of Excellence in Early Childhood Learning & Development.
Direct talk. “My goal is to spread awareness of the critical importance of children’s early years development through specially curated workshops and presentations. I try to pack my presentations with latest research, practical ideas, visuals of early childhood classrooms, anecdotes and experiences to celebrate the joys of working with creative young children,” says Isbell, who has conducted workshops throughout the US from Alaska to New York, and has addressed international conferences in Denmark, Singapore, China and Canada.
Future plans. Delighted by the enthusiastic response to her keynote address at the KLAY global summit, Isbell plans to deepen her engagement with ECCE centres and teachers in India. “I was pleased to discover that India which has the world’s largest child population, has acknowledged the importance of universalising ECCE in its new National Education Policy 2020 that I had the privilege of reading recently. If implemented in letter and spirit, young learners across the country will benefit from quality programmes designed to strengthen their critical competencies including developing language, literacy, science, math, social, collaboration and problem-solving skills, in a holistic manner. Therefore I look forward to participating in more workshops and summits in India,” says Isbell.
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