OXFORD — A new podcast created by faculty at the University of Mississippi’s Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning (GCSEL) is helping raise awareness of important issues related to the development of young children and more.
Hosted by GCSEL Co-Directors Melody Musgrove and Cathy Grace, EdsUp! is sponsored by the Southern Early Childhood Association and is available for download through Apple podcasts, SoundCloud and the iHeartRadio app.
“The podcast is very broad,” explained Musgrove, who is also an associate professor at the UM School of Education. “It’s not just about education. It is also about families, and how they can help young children. We talk to authors, policy experts and researchers. They are not all people who serve young children directly, but they are all people who are relevant to the conversation.”
Dubbed “a podcast all about children and those who care for them,” each episode features expert interviews, commentary and ends with a “Lit Bit,” which is the reading of a poem ideal for young children.
Above all, the EdsUp! podcast advocates for the wellbeing of young children and frames conversations with research-based perspectives. As noted by Grace and Musgrove, myths and misconceptions have often affected policies that impact children. The hosts hope to dispel myths, promote equity and help listeners connect early childhood issues to current and local events through a series of “no-nonsense” conversations.
With 10 episodes available for download, recent guest include: Dr. Bruce Perry, an internationally recognized psychiatrist whose research examines how trauma affects brain development in children; Steven Hicks, a former senior policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Education; Sara Zaske, the author of “Achtung Baby” a book which compares perspectives on childhood development in the United States and Germany; and more.
As noted by both hosts, the fields of early childhood education and development have changed drastically in recent years, and, the podcast seeks to highlight this. Grace and Musgrove note how medical research by Perry shows poverty and trauma have been scientifically proven to hinder the biological development of children’s brains. They also note how research by Economist James Heckman of the University of Chicago has proven investments in quality early childhood programs can yield a 13% return in the form of long-term cost savings.
But that’s just a small part of what stakeholders need to understand about early childhood development and education, they say.
“It’s not just about nursery school any more,” Grace said. “There is no more argument about whether or not early childhood works or if investments pay off. We are looking at the challenges and stressors that are facing the future of our profession and how we can all address them.”
Musgrove and Grace also bring decades of experience and their own expert perspectives to the podcast.
Grace has worked in education for more than four decades and previously held faculty positions at Mississippi Valley State University, University of Southern Mississippi and was the founding director of the Early Childhood Institute at Mississippi State University. She also served as policy director for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C. before joining UM.
Musgrove previously served as director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education from 2010 to 2016. OSEP oversees the administration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a law that ensures educational services and opportunities for children of all ages. She also previously served as state director of special education with the Mississippi Department of Education, and started her career as a Mississippi classroom teacher.
EdsUp! episodes will continue to be updated regularly. For more information about EdsUp! visit: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/edsup/id1441849372
By Andrew M. Abernathy