What is a jotting?
I often hear educators talking about jottings. What are they, I wonder? Who has introduced this language? I do not recall this word being used in the '80s when I was studying early childhood. A quick search of the internet confirms that this word seems to be increasingly used in the early childhood sector. I have also discovered that while the word 'jottings' was not used in the 2011 version of the Guide to the National Quality Standard (NQS), it does appear in the 2018 version.
I take umbrage with the word. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a jotting as 'quickly written short note'. When I hear the word 'jotting', I do think of something quick and easy to write, kind of like a shopping list, but as a trainer and assessor, mentor and presenter, do I want educators to be doing jottings? No. I encourage educators to take observations. I ask for intentional observations that inform planning. I ask for pedagogical observations that collect information about each child's knowledge, competencies, ideas, culture and curiosities. I ask for observations that can be analysed to demonstrate each child's 'distance travelled', in other words, their learning.
I have many conversations with educators about language and the words we use in early childhood. I am often asked 'does it really matter what words we use? Why can't we use the word kids instead of children? Why does the word 'jottings' irritate you? Aren't there more important things to worry about?
Of course, there are other important things to worry about, but for me, this casualised language is not respectful of the importance and the significance of intentional observations of children. Our critical reflection practices should consider professionalism and watching many posts on social media, does at times concern me as I believe that professionalism within the sector is being eroded.
I want to pose the following critical reflection questions that could be considered using 'Exceeding Theme 2' in Quality Area 4 of the NQS.
- How do we, as a profession, curb the erosion of professionalism?
- How do we use critical reflection to challenge our beliefs?
- How do we ensure that everyone's perspective is heard and considered?
- How do we ensure that people are not belittled for having a perspective that does not align with the dominant discourse?
Footnote: The word professional appears 109 times in the NQS, professionalism, 17 times and professionals 33 times.