Teaching and developing early childhood educators (ECE’s) is a challenging task in the current adult education landscape. The nationally endorsed training package has struggled to balance acquiring ‘knowledge’ and ‘practical application’ of skills. Students learn about theories and practices (pedagogy) through a structured ‘left brain’ process of workbooks and classes followed by 240 hours of practical placement. Some workplace experiences are creative and inspiring and some are not. Many adult learning institutions simply teach the test.
ECE’s need to be grounded in pedagogy and their own personal adult learning journey, skill acquisition, creative exploration and impulse/desire to be an educator. ECE’s without ‘creative skills’ struggle to recreate these experiences for children as the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) curriculum emerges in their practice.
We know that skills, knowledge, creativity and adaptability will be central in the economy of the future and OLA offers a tangible link between theory and practice by aligning teaching with the arts and the environment. Early Childhood Education (ECE) is essentially a creative craft and we seek to complement the existing theoretical/work placement model through instruction in creative arts, culture and environmental sustainability.
Did you know that interactions with the environment and the arts are the key drivers to implementing the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)? Theories about what creativity, aesthetics, environments, sustainability, culture and resources contribute to ECE are less tangible if you have not interacted with Indigenous Australians, explored your own creativity, (for example, storytelling, knitting, doll making, worm farming or ceramics), and this acts as barrier to exploring a child’s knowledge and interest in these domains.
OLA was founded by a husband/wife education partnership. Learning is a topic never far from Ujjval and Joanne. Together they have an impressive range of educational credits, and Ujjval says he has "always been learning".
In 2011 Ujj and Joanne established Organisational Learning Australia (OLA), an RTO focusing on quality childcare training. They both have a firm belief that educating children is a privilege and an excellent way to give children the best start in life.
OLA is a Registered Training Organisation regulated by the Victorian Registrations and Qualifications Authority, provider number 110083. OLA has special obligations that are defined in the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Skills) act 2010, including the ability to issue Nationally Recognised Qualifications and the obligation to recognise qualifications from other RTOs.
Early childcare education
The pair worked as registered consultants and advisors in the childcare industry, and their passion has always been in children's services and early childhood education.
"A lot of early years education is reduced to dry and boring 'ticking and flicking' boxes - so we put in an application to become a registered training organisation (RTO) ourselves. That's when we established OLA."
They have both been influenced by the practices of Steiner education and seek to impart practical and hands on 'play-based' education to adults who will in turn teach our children.
Quality childcare training courses
OLA has an inherent focus on quality in training courses, something typified by their enthusiastic crew of trainers, who all have extensive first-hand experience in the industry, love their work and feel they have found their home at OLA.
"We offer a quality educational experience, and we now have a group of companies that clearly focus on the child," Ujjval said.
Ujjval and Joanne added further depth to their business by establishing Ignite Minds Family Daycare in early 2014. The company offers opportunities to work directly with families and children.
"Ignite Minds is a great way to offer employment opportunities to graduates, so we now offer not just training but also employment placements," Joanne said.
Ignite Minds expanded into educational toys and also trades under the name Dragonfly Toys.
Dragonfly consists of wonderfully tactile, enjoyable and educational toys, games, books, puzzles and art materials for adults and children. Education has been personally important to Ujjval and Joanne.
"We're interested in the economics of children and families, and we know that working in the childcare industry is a family-friendly and rewarding way to balance home life," Joanne said.
"It's a fabulously rewarding career."
Read more about childcare training at Organisational Learning Australia.
Read more about career opportunities in Early Childhood education at Ignite Minds Family Daycare.