Too Many Children and Families Left Behind

Friday, 25 February 2022 via Zoom

Speaker: Johanna Filp-Hanke

Lecture Summary:

Improving the lives of children and families who live in poverty has been my life-long aspiration. Brain research tells us that early childhood experiences and poverty affect lifelong health and learning. According to UNICEF, in almost half of all rich countries, more than one in five children live in poverty. A variety of early childhood care and education programs exist to mitigate the negative effects of poverty. Some successful programs are center based; others include active family involvement.  I will describe the “Proyecto Padres e Hijos,” which my colleagues and I designed and implemented in poor rural communities in Chile during the early years of the military dictatorship. We were inspired by Paulo Freire’s ideas about education, summarized in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire argued for openness, humility, tolerance, attentiveness, rigor and political commitment in education. Themes of love and hope figure prominently in his work. As educators we were transformed by our project experience. The lessons learned provide insights into how we can support families and children from different cultural backgrounds, including immigrant families and children of marginalized communities.

Bio: Johanna Filp-Hanke:


I grew up in Chile, and began studying Psychology at the Catholic University there, moving to Vancouver at the age of 21. I continued my education at the University of British Columbia, receiving B.A. and M.A. degrees in Psychology there. Many years later, I earned a Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Freiburg in Germany. In 1994 I became a Guggenheim Fellow. My professional experience includes 20 years of work in Chile and 23 years in California. In Chile I worked at the Center for Research and Development in Education (C.I.D.E.), a nonprofit progressive think tank, conducting research and developing programs to improve the quality of early education in poor communities. In 1996 I joined the Faculty of Early Childhood Studies at Sonoma State University  where I taught immigrant and first-generation college students, preparing them to work with young children and their families. I’m now a Professor Emeritus, having retired two years ago.

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