Memories of Magda
By Roseann Murphy
Wonderful news. Recently Magdalena Palencia and I were invited to share thoughts and memories regarding famed infant specialist, Magda Gerber and her organization Resources for Infant Educarers. http://www.magdagerber.org/
Lisa Sunbury of Regarding Baby, Bence Gerber, (Magda Gerber’s son and if I am reading it correctly, Lisa Sunbury’s fiance) and Janet Lansbury of Elevating Childcare are hosting the site.
Magdalena and I speak of Magda Gerber often.. I have always thought Magda Gerber’s RIE methods and ideas were not meant exclusively for very young children but for people of all ages. Based on Magda’s teachings, everyone on earth wishes for dignity and respect in everyday life. We all thrive on the three basic tenets of Magda Gerber’s RIE – consistency, continuity and respect.
We noticed on the new site someone mentioned that “back in the day” students and colleagues called Magda Gerber by the name Madge. Reading that brought back many memories.
Can you imagine a world without Magda Gerber and her teachings? That could have easily happened if educators chose to dismiss this extraordinary woman due to her accent or from where she came. Luckily, Magda was embraced for the message she brought to the children or the United States.
I met Magda in 1978 while a student at Pacific Oaks and employee UCLA Child Care Service. My job included working in a program developed specifically to raise awareness of the importance of the child care worker. I was privileged to work with many hard working professional child care providers, many who worked 60 hour per week while earning $35 per child!
The Director of UCLA Child Care Services at that times was the well-known child care advocate She has written many books and is very well known in the field. Upon meeting Magda, at UCLA or Pacific Oaks,I recall Magda mentioning the director suggested she change her name to “Madge”. The director thought people might not understand a name like Magda. Because of this suggestion some fellow educators actually though Magda’s name was “Madge”!. The name “Madge” just did not fit the elegant educator, Magda Gerber. Thinking back on it now..the suggestion sounds preposterous.
As you can imagine, Magda Gerber did not let anyone influence her for very long.
In June, 1979 RIE presented the International Infant Conference. Back-to-Back presentations introduced the Pikler and RIE methods to the infant community in Los Angeles and Belmont, California. The excitement was unforgettable. I was asked to sit on a panel with esteemed colleagues who had first-hand experience with the Pikler/Gerber methods. I spoke of my experiences with a child who suffered from severe separation anxiety.
Along with sitting on the panel…a most vivid memory was meeting Dr. Emmi Pikler. Dr. Pikler was the featured speaker and spoke of “The Competent Infant”….
When it was Magda’s turn to make her presentation she was introduced with the dignity and respect that she deserved…She was presented to the audience of 500 as Magda Gerber….founder of Resources for Infant Educarers.
Post by Roseann Murphy