Is ‘the look’ whitewashing the early years environment?

On the podcast this week, myself and Amy discussed how important aesthetics really are in the early years setting. In a time when more practitioners look to social media, rather than books or courses, to get their cpd fix how do we carefully navigate this landscape to ensure we are getting it right for all children? I want to start off by saying that in some cases the follower count does not necessarily equate to credibility, anyone and everyone can post their views and ideas to social media. The beauty of this is that we get to hear from so many new voices that we might never have heard from previously, it’s a double edged sword so to speak.

I wrote a post recently that said ‘Having an all beige setting won’t make you outstanding’ because I want to highlight the issues around creating a look rather than an enabling environment; I fear that when we think about environments we immediately think about what it looks like rather than what it facilitates and that is concerning. I feel the need to say here that this does not mean I think negatively if an environment is beige, have you seen my provision, I’m the bloody queen of beige! I am merely trying to remind us all to step back and think about why the environment is the way it is.

My environment has naturally progressed over time as I have reflected on practice and implemented new ideas based on those reflections but at the centre of all those decisions is the children in my setting. I can see the way that ‘the look’ deflects from more important topics surrounding inclusivity. How does ‘the look’ support SEND children, children with EAL and how much do we consider diversity when we are creating ‘the look’? I had an interesting conversation recently about ‘the look’ and the fact that much of it is idealistic, aimed at and created with middle class white families at the core. I think it’s about time we consider critically how whitewashed the early years sector really is! This is not to say that play and fundamental principles that ‘the look’ are based on are not important but we must critically assess how it intersects with other issues.