Marguerita Magennis

Early Years & Montessori

Position: Course Coordinator Masters in Early Childhood Studies & Lead Lecturer BA Hons degree Early Childhood Studies

About Marguerita

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” – William Butler Yeats

My early career started in law, but after having my own children, I decided to leave this sector and move into early education and special needs. Having worked and managed my own pre-school for some years, I embarked on the road of educational psychology, and I work for several years in the primary education sector with children who needed that little bit more support.

I have over 20 years’ experience of working in education and higher education as a lecturer and researcher, and work as an International External Authenticator/Standards Verifier for numerous awarding bodies in Ireland and the UK.  I am a registered member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and have a small psychology service, which in recent years I have extended to offer counselling and psychotherapy to younger members of society on a voluntary basis.

There are lots of experiences and students who will always stand out, students who continue to contact you after they have completed their degree to ask advice and students who will email you a draft of a personal statement to have a read of, as they apply for their master’s qualification, students sending you photos of their baby which they delivered days after submitting an assignment on time; or students who send a video of their wedding day after they graduate. These are the moments which stand out and make it all worthwhile.  Knowing you have helped these people become the person they strive to be.

I started working for Portobello over nine years ago and it is like a home from home, the support and comradery that is shared within the college. It was throughout this role that I felt I had found my niche, working with adults who had come back to education bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, but needing the certification to go with that. I think this resonates with me most, having come a similar route myself, and after leaving law; embarking on my academic career with Queen’s University, subsequently completing Bachelor of Arts Honours, Master’s and PhD level education, for which I was awarded the Doctoral Award in Postgrad Research.

Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some fantastic and renowned authors and researchers in the field of early education.

Dr Barbara McConnell my supervisor at master’s level, and a good friend since that time; Dr Colette Gray, Mary Maloney a good friend, and past colleague, Professor Jim Deegan, the most intellectual gentleman I have had the pleasure to chat with on numerous occasions, and whose most memorable saying is “go for it!”, a sentiment which has driven my own research career for some years.  David Whitebread, who I met while studying my PhD, and who has since then shared some insightful thinking’s about Vygotsky and play.  Dr. Zsuzsa Millei, a friend and mentor and editor of our book, Childhood and Nation.  John Siraj Blatchford and Prof Bob Stake, both helped me refine my research throughout the years; and Prof Judith Green, California who I met at a conference many years ago, the most enlightening person I have ever had the pleasure to encounter, and at the ripe age of 79 was still deeply engrossed in research and teaching.  She has become a very good friend, and mentor.  All of whom have greatly influenced me in my career and research.

Marguerita’s Teaching Philosophy 

As a lecturer it is important to make conscious decisions around the module content and pedagogy with the students experience in mind, as I believe our students possess knowledge skills, values and experiences which help them deal with their different employment opportunities.

I believe part of my role is to help them understand through the engagement with these courses, who they are and what they can contribute to the heterogeneity that they will encounter in their vocation to work with and educate young children. They are the advocates for the sector, ambassadors for early education in Ireland. And as such I think it is vital that we more than anything else help them develop skills like critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, analytical reasoning, reflexivity and communication skills, becoming leaders in their field, involved in research to further and benefit the sector in it’s entirety. I don’t believe it is my role to teach my students the practical aspects of early education, as it is they who bring that knowledge and experience with them; but rather it is my role to encourage them to apply the theoretical underpinnings to those practical skills.

As a philosophical stance on adult education, it is important to realise that understanding is not something that is transferrable from one person to another; rather understanding is constructed by each student, based on their prior knowledge and experiences; it is my philosophical stance that the role of the lecturer is to nurture, challenge and extend that knowledge.

As a lecturer it is vital to listen to the student’s voice, engage with them and support them, scaffolding the pathways to further learning. In order to achieve this it is important to encourage the students to engage and interact during tutorial sessions, as we all learn from each other, and in adult education the student is as vital to that learning experience as the lecturer. Discussion and debate are key, therefore I expect my students to respond, contribute and critique so that the understanding becomes deeply rooted.

It is also important to keep abreast of changes in the sector and up to date with up and coming research. I try to achieve this by engaging in research topics every 12/18 months if possible, and have had some of these contributions published to date. Attendance at conferences is a beneficial means of networking, raising awareness of current debates and issues in the sector, which are vital to ensuring the learning experience for the student is relevant and reflective of their own experiences.

As a reviewer for several journals, SAGE, Contemporary Issues, Global Childhood Studies and Early Childhood studies, I help to ensure that publications are peer reviewed and of the highest standard, and subscribing to these journals ensure that I always have access to suitable reading materials to supplement the course materials for my students.

Research Interests and contributions:

  • Special Educational Needs
  • Autism
  • ICT in Early Education
  • Wellbeing in Early Education
  • Curriculum Design and Leadership
  • Conceptual Development
  • Innovation and Diversities in Early Edcuation
  • Outdoor environments
  • Forest Schools
  • Risky Play in Early Education

Research / Industry Participation

  • SELB (2008) Autism Awareness Report
  • SELB (2010) Autism Intervention Support
  • Queens University Belfast (2010) Workshop Presentation: Research in the early years (Sole presenter)
  • Mary Immaculate College (2013) Workshop Presentation: Observation in Research: complementary methods (Co-presenter)
  • University of Limerick (2013) Workshop Presentation: Developmental Psychology; theory to practice (Sole Presenter)
  • Magennis, M. (2013) Digital Natives and Cultural Tools, Paper presented at Diversities in Literacy, Maynooth: Ireland (Conference Paper)
  • IRMSS – International Research Methods Conference (2014) MIC – Presented paper – June 2014.
  • Magennis, M. (2014) “Developing Leadership for a sustainable future: Enhancing ICT in the Curriculum” (conference paper)
  • OMEP International Conference (2014) UCC “Cross-border perspectives on digital technologies as a catalyst for creative learning and innovative teaching in early education”
  • Magennis, M. (2015) “National Symbols and Practices in the Everyday of Irish Education”, in Millei, Z. & Imre, R. (2015)
  • Magennis, M. (2015) Enhancing Literacy Concepts: Digital Natives and Cultural Tools.
  • BORDERS V111 Conference on Cultural Studies, Oulu Finland, 3-4 December 2015, Book Launch  – Virtual Presentation and Workshop.
  • Magennis, M. (forthcoming) “outdoor environments and Risky Play – Early educational strategies”
  • Dr. M’s Thoughts blog: https://childhoodmentalhealth.com/

Marguerita Magennis Marguerita Magennis