David Gilkes

Windows onto many roads: Children and adults as innovators

David Gilkes remembers hearing that his very first student-teacher placement was to be in a Year 2 classroom. Year 2! This was not the way his dream was supposed to go. “What?! But I wanted to be with the Year 6 kids – not the babies!” What a transformative moment this turned out to be, and how quickly his constructs and image of young children, learning and teaching were challenged. On the last day of his four-week placement, the Year 2 supervising teacher said with both heart and certainty, “You know what, David? I think you’re an early childhood teacher”. Now, with over 25 years’ experience in the early years, David embraces each day he gets to spend in the company of children, families, colleagues and the community as an exciting opportunity for joy and wonder, for co-constructing ideas and theories, for listening and questioning, for creating and playing, for empathising and researching, for noticing and connecting. 

After completing his first degree, David lived for 15 years in Canberra, working mainly alongside 4 and 5 year old children in both government and independent settings. He also spent some time as the Director of an Early Learning Centre. In 2009, seeking new adventures, David and his wife moved to Hobart – a place where the air makes you breathe more deeply and beauty in its many guises envelops you. Inspired by this context, David completed his Masters degree in 2013, researching parent perspectives on beauty and aesthetics in early years settings. In 2015, David participated in a Forest School training course and residency in Denmark and was invited to be one of the Key Thinkers in ‘The Hothouse’ – a forum on Tasmanian education as part of Hobart’s DARK MOFO festival. Since moving to Hobart, David has been a teacher, an Early Years Network Leader in the Tasmanian Department of Education and, currently, a self-employed and in-demand consultant, giving presentations, running workshops, writing articles and supporting teams around the country. David has been inspired and challenged by the Reggio Emilia educational project, and its provocation for the Australian context, for many years. He has participated in a number of Study Tours to this city in order to have his certainties wobbled and his humanity and hopes nourished. He is a member of the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange (REAIE) and is currently the Tasmanian Reggio Network convenor. David’s heart is still strongly entangled with what it is to be a teacher and what it means to be a learner alongside and in relationship with others, especially our youngest citizens.

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