Global encounters in early childhood

Volume 4 Number 3 - April 2016

Editoral

This edition of He Kupu draws together a number of articles from across the globe that discuss various perspectives and practices in early childhood.

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Practitioner Researcher

The New Zealand Ministry of Health is quite specific on the subject of breast feeding: “The ‘naturalness’ of breastfeeding and emotional bonding with their infant are some of the reasons women intend to breastfeed.” (Arora et al., as cited in Ministry of Health [MoH], 2008). While this topic is extremely important to mothers and infants, how much do teachers understand as to the importance of this start in a child’s life, and do teachers’ have the knowledge or experience to promote the benefits of breastmilk for a child’s well-being? A subsequent question is whether teachers can follow aspirations for children to grow healthy in mind, body and spirit, when they do not have specific training or experience with breastfeeding, or have the support to manage a breastfeeding mother. This paper will look at how breastfeeding can be supported in early childhood centres, the teacher’s role(s) in supporting the child and mother, and the discourse around the use of ‘infant formula’ and feeding in child care.

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A range of literature has engaged with the efforts made by the Indian government to improve the status of early childhood education in the rural areas of the country. Studies show that, despite some improvements, there remains much to bring about significant change. This paper will explore four main questions: (i) the condition of early childhood education in India immediately post-independence; (ii) what measures have been taken by successive governments to improve the status of early childhood education; (iii) what is the current scenario of early childhood education in rural India; and (iv) what can be done to bring about further improvements in rural education?

Positive child guidance describes the support provided in terms of social and emotional growth for the child (Gartrell & Gallo, 2015). It is a process of guiding children to develop healthy self-esteem, respect for themselves and others and skills to manage an array of potential stressors (Marion & Koralek, 2013). Miller (2004) suggests that positive child guidance should focus on the growth of naturally unfolding motivation for self-control and pro-social behaviours, which are necessary for effective living. Knowledge of positive guidance skills is very important for teachers, as early childhood programs provide a child opportunities to absorb democratic life skills, and to grow as adults who are self-directed, productive citizens capable of managing their behaviours (Miller, 2004). In this paper, the focus is on teachers’ perceptions of positive child guidance and the theories that guide the values and beliefs of child guidance.

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Literacy in the twenty-first century is changing to become more multicultural, multilingual and multimodal as people are using more digital technologies in their everyday lives. This article reports on what these changing conceptions of literacy mean for mother tongue teaching by exploring why, how and when mother tongue teachers in preschools use digital technologies. Regarding literacy as a social practice, the article focuses on emerging patterns in the use of digital tablets in a large Swedish municipality, providing empirical data (questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews) from mother tongue teachers working together with hundreds of children aged 1-6 at preschools. The study found significant differences in the levels of digital technologies used among mother tongue teachers. What seems to matter is whether or not the teachers themselves are frequent and engaged users of digital technologies in their own everyday lives. Most of the teachers reported that they are integrating digital technologies in their teaching even though they have officially a restricted access to digital devices. Teachers expressed a desire to use the digital tablet as a tool to access and create knowledge by creating an opportunity for innovation, specifically for language groups that are not represented in the majority context of teaching materials or not suitable for a secularized society due to, for example, religious or political differences. The article concludes by stating that digital tablets are convenient mother tongue teaching tools but that teachers are asking for policies that can point the way as to how to implement digital resources, since tablets offer social inclusion and equity but also involve ethical dilemmas.

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Special Edition

We will never ask what a book means, as signified or signifier; we will not look for anything to understand in it. We will ask what it functions with, in connection with what other things it does or does not transmit intensities, in which other multiplicities its own are inserted and metamorphosed, and with what bodies without organs it makes its own converge. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 4)

This is a critical discussion of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of ‘becoming’, as related to ‘other things’ in which multiplicities emerge through de/re/territorialisation of desire, and affect. With the idea that adults “are quite at home with our orthodox thinking” (Olsson, 2013, p. 251), I approach this paper with all openness and anticipation as to what children’s engagement in creative processes might reveal. This paper consists of a narration of Paz, a 4 year-old girl in an early childhood centre that I have been working with. It is followed by a brief summary of an interview with her teacher.

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This paper will be looking at the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari and conceptual formation in artwork. These philosophical concepts require an act of imagination in the reading, as the child is seen being-in-the-world, which implies a thinking, sensing person responding to people and their environment in ways that are not explainable yet commonly felt. While some philosophical concepts are quite straightforward to comprehend, others require effort. Yet Deleuze and Guattari’s work, as employed in early childhood, envisions the child and the teacher in a dynamic fashion to reveal alternative and powerful ways to think of the child and teacher and to enhance the experience of being for both. This paper explores how children’s engagement with art can become so much more than representation of what already is.

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This article explores mentoring concepts that have stemmed from an organisation’s long term self-review of mentoring practice. It challenges the contemporary hierarchical, positional leader approach to mentoring and suggests that the power in the mentoring relationship needs to shift to a consultative and collaborative heterarchy leadership style. 

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Early childhood centres use philosophy statements to share the underpinning values and beliefs that frame their programmes. It could also be argued that, in an increasingly privatised and corporatised sector, philosophy statements are also used to market early childhood services to potential and existing users of the service. This research project used critical discourse analysis to examine the philosophy statements of 50 early childhood centres across Aotearoa New Zealand, arguing that a collective analysis of these statements would reveal which discourses operating in the sector are privileged and those which are marginalised. This research project sought to understand how dominant discourses in the sector reflect or resist current prevailing (and, at times, contradictory) ideologies in the broader early childhood political landscape – both nationally and globally. The research revealed that Western notions of play and play-based pedagogies were strong discourses across the philosophy statements examined. Also, neo-liberal and neo-colonial discourses pertaining to the child as an individual consumer of education, a capable, confident and flexible future worker, were also prevalent. Two discourses directly related to equity and social justice goals for the sector were less prevalent – these were discourses about inclusion and notions of indigenous rights and bicultural practices. This finding presents a challenge to the sector in which centres must find ways to re-engage with the inclusive, bicultural and locally relevant foundations of Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996).

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Book Reviews

Committed to seeing the Māori language woven throughout teaching and learning in more natural ways the New Zealand Tertiary College (NZTC) began to create a resource a number of years ago, to support the college’s early childhood education students to engage with te reo Māori.

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In the book The Autonomous Child, Ivar Frønes undertakes the ambitious task of exploring the process of child development and socialisation, reviewing how these are understood in various disciplines, and brings these together to create a holistic picture of socialisation, especially in relation to the changed reality and demands placed upon children by today’s knowledge society and economy. The book is structured in two parts and ten chapters. In Part I, which comprises the main body of this work, Frønes provides an overview of how ‘socialisation’ is conceptualised and understood in social sciences, such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, life course studies, and perspectives of biological-social interactions. The second Part of this book then links the created holistic understanding of socialisation with current demands of post-industrial knowledge societies and economies.

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The Beautiful Risk of Education is primarily a philosophy of education text, yet, while dealing with philosophical ideas from Genesis to late 20th century continental philosophy, Biesta has written a book that is approachable and eminently practical in its scope.

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Contributors

Barbara Scanlan, Bridget Jopson, Farzaneh Moinian, Jacoba Matapo, John Roder, Kiri Gould, Mandeep Kaur, Patrick Dorls, Randy Alingalan, Slavica Jovanovic, Susanne Kjällander, Tasneem Motiwala

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