Thank you to all who made it out to our first Educator Roundtable call of 2018 on Jan 23. We hope this will be the first of many. The aim is to give educators space for organic, member-led discussions to evolve about the issues and questions that arise from our own teaching experiences in our communities. These calls are open to all, recognizing that often the retailer/manufacturer/educator space overlaps.
Eleven educators joined the hour-long call and brought up topics that have come up in their own practices. This is a short synopsis that discussion. *Please note that none of these issues are meant to be taken as advice, regulatory requirements or even best practice.
One major discussion point was the topic of back carrying: how to teach, if there was one recommendation in terms of age/developmental stage for back carrying. Many chimed in to say that they assess and work with parents on a one-on-one basis to help parents determine their own comfort level and needs. There was also general consensus that the bigger the audience (i.e., social media groups) the more conservative the messaging. While we all agree with this in practice, there is some thought that this has also created a culture of rigidity within the online community that trickles into real life. We wonder if this idea of there being ‘one true way’ to babywear contributes to a culture of parental doubt and apprehension. Our French Canadian/Quebec educators in particular found that this was the case in their communities and wondered if there was a way to help counteract that.
We all agreed that ultimately as educators we want to contribute to parents feeling secure and confident in their abilities to make the decisions that were best for their families rather than deferring to educators as the ‘experts’. We questioned what our role as educators looked like in this context and asked whether absolutist messaging contributed to a culture of fear and uncertainty. We discussed the changing roles of the educator—whereas in previous years it was to introduce the practice of babywearing, now it seems to be to help caregivers filter through information overload.
There is a sense that new caregivers/consumers will go to peers first for information and instruction, in part because there is a distrust of authority, including messaging from manufacturers. It seems like caregivers will go everywhere except the instructions for information on carrier use. What is our role as educators in terms of helping caregivers? The issues with authority, and the lack of caregiver confidence is an overall cultural issue, not simply tied to baby carrier use. Are there things that we should start doing or stop doing to contribute to an overall positive cultural change? We don’t believe this will be a change that will happen in one generation.
We briefly discussed the function of certification, what does it mean, when is it necessary, is it sometimes harmful. As this topic came up towards the end of our hour together, it’s certain that it will be a topic for another day.
Our next Educator Roundtable call is scheduled for Feb 20 at 10-11pm CST. We’re looking forward to having you join the conversation with us.