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Six early years practitioners talk about their professional experience
Crosses national and continental boundaries to present case studies of early years practice that reflect diverse socio-political contexts
Argues for a new critical ecology of the early childhood profession in which practitioners act as 'transformative agents' informed by the political and social realities of their time
Shows that for early years practitioners what they did was central to how they defined their professionalism: as open-ended, relational, uncertain, intimate and discursive
Shows that professionalism in early childhood means linking ways of knowing with ways of being practical; doing, knowing and being are inseparable
Makes a case for practice-based evidence: research that embraces complexity in order to understand the field and inform policy
Helps readers to bring a critical perspective to their thinking and practice
Once the Cinderella of the education system, early years education has evolved into a much more substantially funded sector in which increasing demands are placed on staff at the same time as opportunities for their higher-level training and education have expanded. This book reflects the fact that these changes have fostered a good deal of debate about early years education and its practitioners, who have to explore fundamental questions such as whether or not their field of work is a profession at all. Two key arguments are presented. The first is that early years education has matured to the point that pedagogical and regulatory frameworks have been introduced and linked to a terminology of professionalism. The second argument, meanwhile, asserts that we need to imagine a new future for early years education marked by a ‘critical ecology’ of the profession. This is a future in which educators maintain an attitude of critical enquiry in all aspects of their role, assessing the genuine needs of the sector, factoring in the different political and cultural milieux that influence it, and acting to transform it.
In exploring the issues, this book begins by recording in detail the daily work of early years educators from six countries: Australia, England, Finland, Germany, New Zealand and Sweden. These case studies explore what it means to act professionally in a particular context; perceptions of what being a ‘professional’ in early childhood education means (including practitioners’ self perceptions and external perspectives); and common features of practice in each context. It moves on to analyse the wider socio-political forces that affect this day-to-day practice and recommends that practitioners act as transformative agents informed by the political and social realities of their time.
Content Level »Research
Keywords »critical ecology - early childhood context - early childhood education - early childhood education policy - early childhood teaching - practitioner research - professionalism - relational practice - teachers' perspectives critical reflection
Foreword; Peter Moss.- SECTION 1: Professionalism in Local and Cross National Contexts: towards a Critical Ecology of the Profession.- 1. Early Childhood Grows up: towards a Critical Ecology of the Profession; Carmen Dalli, Linda Miller and Mathias Urban.- 2. Relationships, Reflexivity and Renewal: Professional Practice in Action in an Australian Children’s Centre; Christine Woodrow.- 3. Leading and Managing in an Early Years Setting in England; Linda Miller, Carrie Cable and Gill Goodliff.- 4. Acting as a Professional in a Finnish Early Childhood Education Context; Kirsti Karila and Jarmo Kinos.- 5. The Uncertain Expert: a Case Study from Germany; Mathias Urban.- 6. A Constant Juggle for Balance: a Day in the Life of a New Zealand Kindergarten Teacher; Carmen Dalli.- 7. Working with a Democratic Curriculum: the Swedish Case Study; Marja Kuisma and Anette Sandberg.- SECTION 2 International Perspectives on Professionalism.- 8. Radical Reconstructions? Early Childhood Workforce Profiles in Changing European ECEC Systems; Pamela Oberhuemer.- 9. Childcare Professionalism in Flanders: an inside-outside Perspective; Jan Peeters.- 10. A Need, a Desire, a Shared Responsibility: Professional Development for a New Public Education; Irene Balaguer with an introduction by Mathias Urban.- 11. A Profession Speaking – and Thinking – for Itself; Mathias Urban and Carmen Dalli.- Index.