So now we’re launched and I find myself thinking: What comes next?
The Launch last week, on 25th June, left no doubt that there is a wide community of people out there who are eager to begin thinking more deeply about how we relate to our youngest children. It turns out that this is an issue that has resonance not only for parents and grandparents, but also for police, health visitors, teachers, social workers, theatre, childminders, nursery staff, GPs, politicians, and supermarket designers, amongst a host of other professions. This breadth was of course reflected in the dozen or so speakers who gave brief addresses during Launch.
It is fascinating to realise that, in considering the topic of emotional connection to our kids, we quickly begin to contemplate much broader-ranging questions. It causes us to reflect on the basic economic structure of our society, the process of funding scientific investigation, and the layout of urban spaces. It makes us wonder if we could re-define the purpose of services such as police, midwifery, education, and even ‘services’ in general. It gets us to realise that the seeing the world though an ‘early years lens’ rapidly calls into focus our care for the elderly and our care for the planet.
What I loved about the Launch was that it gave a strong sense of the enthusiasm that people have about being engaged with this very broad agenda. This was apparent in the feedback and emails that have flowed in over the week:
“I found the film The Connected Baby to be very moving, hugely informative, and entertaining. For me, its accessibility is a key feature and I will be working with colleagues to plan how we can use it to the best effect. I love the idea of being part of a community that wants to make a real difference.”
“This has been a great launch pad for a new movement — that heightens awareness of the capabilities of babies and children.”
“I am already thinking about where I can fit this into my teaching. Sharing it with other colleagues will be so exciting.”
“The film highlights activities that many mothers instinctively do, and it will be a great source of help to those who might feel less confident.”
“The film is good enough to make TV, but it is more important that it reaches selected target audiences – decision makers in government, NHS, health clinics, MumsNet, nursing staff, probation services, police, any group working with children.”
“As a student, this film will help me with parts of my upcoming thesis. I was so glad to come along today.”
“As someone who is contemplating the next steps of both teaching and fatherhood, I found today’s proceedings inspiring. The beautiful music and language used in the film express the value and emotional worth of connections with babies.” “I loved seeing the science connected to human emotion.”
So the next step is a simple one: let’s just get on with the debate. Let’s give ourselves the permission—and the responsibility—to think more expansively about what babies need. Let’s decide which questions we want to be asking, whom we should be asking those questions of, what constitutes good sources of information, what counts as relevant evidence, and ultimately who decides what the answers to these questions are. If I put that into scholarly jargon, I’m calling for a bit of ‘epistemological reflection’.
It is easy in this economically-strapped era to start off worrying about financial matters: how we are going to fund services for children and families? I agree this is an important question. But it isn’t actually the most important one. We would benefit ourselves by first worrying about philosophical matters: what kind of a life is it that we actually want with our children, and that our children want with us? It may turn out that many of the things we desire most, we can have pretty much for free. The science is showing that much of human happiness and productivity comes from play, not purses.
Thus, I’d like to end this week’s blog by thanking all those who made the Launch so much fun, whether by attending, by sending messages of support, by manning tables or baking cakes, by delivering speeches, by being brave enough to speak to the video camera, or even, amongst the mountain of other tasks, simply by driving the taxis that delivered the attendees to the door. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a crowd to foment a movement. Thank you to everyone who has been fomenting this week!
Keep fomenting, everyone!
“But wait, but wait!”, I hear a chorus crying. “When can we get our own copy of the film the connected baby, to show to colleagues and family members?”
I can now confirm that these will be available in mid-September. Jonathan Robertson (film-maker) and I are currently making revisions, based on suggestions we received at the screening. All those who attended the Launch will automatically be provided with a copy. We will be keeping a list of anyone else who requests a copy (by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org). The British Psychological Society has provided funding that enables us to distribute a limited number of copies free of cost, for which we thank them. Meantime, feel free to have a look at the film’s website, which provides still images from the film and will, in due course, include a trailer as well. www.theconnectedbaby.org
Spread the word and intensify the anticipation!