Our monthly industry roundtable sessions have continued through 2019. Here’s a quick recap of what’s been discussed.
May 22, 2019
May topic: With no current international body that governs babywearing education, how do we navigate varying definitions of credentials, knowledge, certification, and expertise? How can we honor living traditions and generational knowledge and hands-on experience while embracing the opportunities that a certifying body could bring to the industry?
11 industry members (mostly educators) from around the world joined the call to share their thoughts. The background for this call was that in the last year, North America in particular has seen some changes in the educator landscape in terms of schools and associations providing certification. This has left both volunteer and professional educators discussing what happens when your ‘certifying’ body no longer exists, or changes dramatically from the way it was? In Canada and the US, we are seeing a small shift towards groups joining together to form small associations, and seeing educators diversify where they look for educational opportunities.
Our participants from the Netherlands shared that they have an association that certifies curriculum, which has the effect of making the profession more well known and also manages continuing education credits. Educators are not a protected profession, meaning you can still practice as an educator regardless of whether or not you join the association. A certificate from one of the babywearing schools allows you to join the association. The benefit is that if a school closes or modifies their direction, educators are still under the umbrella of the association.
Our participants from Italy said that they have been trying to create an association in Italy similar to the Netherlands, but that most people don’t really understand the need. For a lot of educators in Italy, babyweaing is a second job or in addition to their primary skill set as nurses, midwives etc. There are however, 5 babywearing schools in Italy now, plus access to the other options in Europe that are nearby, so it is very much a growing industry.
One of the concerns from our Canadian participants (babywearing education being somewhat less formal in Canada), was that there is a real issue with the retention of information and the passing down of knowledge. Continuity is an concern, where we see new people re-training as opposed to the industry/community retaining people in the field on a long-term basis. Our US members agreed that this was also a struggle in the US.
We did discuss the merits of certification as a concept with the idea being offered that certification/accreditation benefits the profession more than the practice as a whole. Which is not to say that there isn’t value in certification, particularly when it comes to working with medically vulnerable populations, as one example. At the same time, creating models that honor traditional knowledge, history and carrying practices as fundamental are crucial. This is particularly important where more formal educational opportunities are setting up when the existing population has a strong living carrying culture- how should the concept of “credentials” be managed within this setting? We all agreed that this was a topic that warranted much more discussion with a broader group of participants.
We spent some time discussing online training (both training of educators and training of consumers/users). How are online training options impacting current experts? It certainly makes education and the practice more accessible on a geographical level. It also makes the practice potentially more difficult in terms of the value of learning in person and the levels of body awareness, touch etc. that this practice requires.
Future topics of discussion that were highlighted as of interest: incorporating inclusive and non-gendered language into our practices.
The next call is Tues, June 25th at 12pm EST. We hope you’ll join us!