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This interview with Carol Murray was conducted over Zoom on July 20, 2020 from her home in upstate New York. Carol is the director of the Bard Nursery School and an experienced early childhood educator. In this interview, she discusses her difficulties in school as the eldest of four siblings in a family that struggled with chronic poverty and housing insecurity. An eighth grade teacher named Mr. Perry was an important influence who made it explicitly clear that he believed in her. Carol discusses being drawn to care work by necessity when working through college, which ultimately led her to do a degree in education. Disregarding her professors' discouragement that she pursue early childhood education, she began teaching younger, nursery-aged students. The success of her intuitive, care-based teaching style led her to believe that the ethics and pedagogy of how teachers care for students are underemphasized in her education and in the society at large. Carol first became a school leader at a community college where students were able to get childcare through a government grant. Seven years ago she became the director of the Bard Nursery School, where she has been able to more fully flesh out her ideas about the importance of care and write and share about her pedagogy. Carol discusses the challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 has brought to the Bard Nursery School. She reflects on the opportunity that has arisen for the parents of nursery-aged children to watch and learn from teachers' techniques over Zoom; on the other hand, she knows that many children are falling through the cracks and being neglected or abused in this time. She touches on some of her personal struggles in this time, from parenting two teenage sons to supporting an ailing father who lives across the country. In closing, Carol shares about the importance of shifting attitudes to place a greater value on the work of care, which our society persistently neglects, and offers a meditation on the importance of having faith in children to make it through challenging times.
This interview would be of great interest to those who want to know more about a unique philosophy of how humans care for one another and its relationship to education. This includes topics such as resilience and the impacts of childhood trauma; early childhood pedagogy; the relationship between education and care work; the invisibility of care work and economic business models that do not value it; and a vision for a needed attitudinal shift in the public to value that care work more deeply. Regarding COVID-19, it would be of interest to those inquiring about challenges to teachers in this time; the parent-teacher-child triad; understanding the diversity of children's experiences during the pandemic.
Noah Schoen is a community organizer and oral historian based in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the co-founder of Meanings of October 27th, an oral history project that has interviewed 105 Pittsburghers about their life histories and reflections on the October 27th, 2018 synagogue shooting at the Tree of Life building. He is also the Community Outreach Associate at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, where he works to strengthen the Center's approach to dismantling antisemitism and the injustices of today. A 2017-2018 JOIN for Justice Organizing Fellow and two-time "Don't Kvetch, Organize" course instructor, Noah has been listening and organizing in Jewish communities and the labor movement for over ten years.
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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.