Practical Transformations and Transformational Practices: Globalization, Postmodernism, and Early Childhood Education: Volume 14

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Table of contents

(15 chapters)
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We sincerely thank the following people, who reviewed chapters for this edited collection. The reviewing process is often a thankless and invisible task, but we want to recognize the professionalism of these reviewers, as well as their insight into the manuscripts with which they engaged.

Volume 14 of the Advances in Early Education and Day Care provides Sharon Ryan and Susan Grieshaber the opportunity to present current scholarship about early childhood education and care that reflects postmodern perspectives. This series has consistently intended to serve the field by providing multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. Early childhood practices have drawn on ideas from child development, curriculum studies, social work, nursing, sociology, anthropology, and other fields that inform us about children, their care, and the settings in which we implement our programs, an effort that should by its nature require diverse perspectives. Advances in Early Education and Day Care has always attempted to respect the necessary diversity of perspectives that can inform the field, and to support work that may not fit in a tidy disciplinary nook.

Most of the chapters in this book depict local attempts to transform practices in early childhood education. They represent endeavors to problematize the complexities and challenges facing the field and the ways in which moves are being made in everyday classroom practice, policy, teacher education, and professional development to build a knowledge base that is grounded in empirical data and that reflects the diversity characteristic of a globalized society.

This chapter tells the story of the Early Childhood Collaborative (ECC), a committee set up to formulate a plan for the delivery of universal preschool education for 4-year-olds in a medium sized Midwestern city in the United States. As I explore the policymaking interactions of this collaborative, the issue of who was included, the capital needed for inclusion, and the power related to social networks and how that shapes collaboration are illuminated. It is argued that in order to bring diverse voices to the table, alternate ways of creating space for participants in policy formulation need to be considered. It is in these spaces that it might be possible to create and present counter narratives to dominant views of how early childhood education should be enacted.

On the basis of data from a project that examined the school experiences of children who were seen to have readiness risks, this chapter examines the child in the child-centered classroom and how this child shaped by our notions of development. Across the classrooms observed, the teachers seemed to teach to a kindergarten prototype, a generic child who had the social, physical, and academic maturity and did not have much pedagogical support. The data are then read through three conceptualizations of development (postmodern deconstruction, developmental realism, and cultural developmentalism). I argue that I use these conceptualizations almost simultaneously in my work and that a hybrid reading highlights the invisibility of individual children in child-centered classrooms.

This chapter works to provide a space beyond the predictable discourses of early childhood education in order to interrogate the social practices of teachers and children. What is presented in this chapter is not a collection of dispassionately observed facts but one person's reconstruction of some important language ‘moments’, in the lived experience of a few Year One children. Through the use of pastiche and collage as the medium for ‘displaying’ the data, this work of interrogation involves pulling apart the tried and true, established mechanisms for reading the classroom. The result is a much untidier picture of the lived experience of Year One children than the traditional educational discourses have allowed.

Early childhood education is a visual field. Much of our work begins with observing and documenting children's talk and actions. The knowledge gleaned from looking is then used to plan curriculum, much of which involves the creation of materials-rich environments to engage children's learning. Yet, quite often we do not question what we see. This chapter uses visual cultural theory to examine the multicultural props used in dramatic play with young children. By examining these images for what is both seen and not seen, I illustrate how these props create a specific discourse in early childhood education.

Since 1998 New Zealand early childhood educators have been required to implement programs consistent with Te Whàriki (Ministry of Education, 1996), a bicultural early childhood curriculum that validates and enacts kaupapa Màori (a Màori theoretical paradigm reflected through the medium of the Màori language). This curriculum document affirms and validates the status of Màori, the indigenous people of this country so that Pàkehà (New Zealanders of European descent) early childhood educators now need to reposition themselves alongside Màori whànau (families) and colleagues who remain the repositories of Màori knowledge. This means a decentering of the “mainstream” curriculum to develop models that parallel Màori language and content inclusively alongside western knowledges in all facets of the early childhood curriculum. This chapter utilizes data from a recent study to illustrate some ways in which the bicultural requirements of Te Whàriki, are being understood and experienced by early childhood teachers, teacher educators, and professional development facilitators. In particular, this chapter considers how Te Whàriki challenges non-Màori teachers’ to confront the power relations that have historically positioned them as curriculum ‘experts’ and marginalized indigenous cultural knowledge.

What does a body of work that arose originally from looking at literary works written in formerly colonized societies have to do with the education of those who would teach children? In this chapter I argue that there are several similarities between the concerns that many postcolonial scholars have raised and those of critical teacher educators. After defining postcolonial theory, I explore why this set of ideas is an important theoretical lens for those who prepare teachers of young children. I then explore some of the themes raised by a postcolonial critique of teacher preparation, relating each to my own practices as a teacher educator. In doing so I aim to show how postcolonial scholarship can serve as a vital resource for those engaged in educating educators.

In this chapter we describe an action research study on our course “Language and Literacy in the Early Childhood Curriculum.” We also explore links between the study and postmodern theory, embedding our analyses in an ongoing accreditation process. This required process positions us to question what authoritative narratives we have accepted and whether, through our action research, we have begun to create our own counternarrative that challenges assumptions underlying the accreditation process.

In this chapter, I describe how postmodern perspectives assist me in negotiating my multiple roles and responsibilities as an early childhood teacher educator in an increasingly complex pedagogical and workplace context. In particular, I focus on how postmodern understandings support me in therorizing my practice and envisioning productive possibilities for change. Underpinning the chapter are three interconnecting motifs that imbue my work as teacher educator – reflexivity, hope, and a commitment to transformative change. The chapter concludes with reflections about the potential of postmodern perspectives to enhance the agency of teacher educators and preservice teachers alike.

In this chapter, we look critically at the discourses of expertise as a lens for examining our experiences as teacher educators. We explain why we think that current notions of early childhood teacher training contradict the ideals of equity, liberation, and the development of human potential – our goals for education – and use two of the authors’ stories of their work with teachers of young children to provide a window into some of the contradictions, challenges, and borders we perceive. Building on the stories and our analyses of them, we posit some possible avenues to help us cross borders.

This chapter briefly discusses the postmodern critique of developmental psychology and then presents a Vygotskian-influenced alternative understanding of development as a non-linear, relational, improvised activity engaged in by groupings of people. This reconstruction of development was the basis of a professional development project in which early childhood teachers participated in a 6-week improv workshop. The goal of the project was to reconnect the teachers with their ability to improvise or to participate in process-oriented, meaning-making activity. The project was based on the hypothesis that developing teachers’ ability to improvise would give them an alternative to relating to children as being on, or off, a developmental trajectory.

DOI
10.1016/S0270-4021(2005)14
Publication date
Book series
Advances in Early Education and Day Care
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-0-76231-238-2
eISBN
978-1-84950-364-8
Book series ISSN
0270-4021