Responding to Contemporary Issues in ECE

Responding to Contemporary Issues in ECE

Assignment 3: Tracing and Responding to Contemporary Issues in ECE

Due at end of module 12, following Tuesday at midnight, August 8  (no late submissions)

Over the past 11 weeks, you have been introduced to a number of ECE issues that have evolved historically and still affect ECE today. For this final assignment, you are asked to choose  ONE or TWO related spiralling issues, trace its history, explain how it affects present-day ECE and speculate or envision how they might be addressed or attended to in the future.

Use the knowledge you have acquired through this course and search for additional resources about the issue(s) you chose (such as peer-reviewed journal articles, reliable online resources, and book chapters – use a minimum 8 resources, at least 5 resources that have not been assigned as readings in this course) to analyze and explain how the issue that you chose was shaped (or influenced) by the historical development of ECE in North America, provide examples of how it spiralled to affect current ECE, and share your vision for the future with regard to the issue that you chose.

Your paper 8 -10 pages paper (1.5 minimum spacing, APA 7th edition reference style) will have three sections and they will explain: 1. how the issue evolved historically; 2. the present effects of the issue; 3. your vision for the future in terms of responding to the issue you chose. Each one of these sections needs to be supported by relevant scholarly resources and grounded in your learning from this course.

Below is a list of the Spiralling Issues discussed in the course. Note that you can choose two related issues for this assignment. For example, Spiralling Issue #6: ECE as a Gendered Field and Spiralling and Issue #7: Missing voices of teachers are closely related; and so are Spiralling Issue #2: Challenging stereotypical deficit images of childhood and Spiralling  Issue #4: Problematizing child-as-nature.Order Now from Course ResearchersSpiralling Issue #1: Early childhood education has historically developed due to external, often economic, interests

Spiralling Issue #2: Challenging stereotypical deficit images of childhood

Spiralling Issue #3: Effects on ECE from a colonial era

Spiralling Issue #4: Problematizing child-as-nature

Spiralling Issue #6: ECE as a gendered field

Spiralling Issue #7: Missing voices of teachers

Spiralling Issue #8: Ethical considerations for doing research with children

Spiralling Issue #9: The dominance of developmental approaches in ECE practice: Continuing the debate

Spiralling Issue #10: The challenge of transporting ECE approaches from other cultures and places

Spiralling Issue #11: Is it time to reconceptualize childcare?

Some ideas, introduction and outline of each Spiealling Issue. And references for the paper, other supporting scholar resources can be added on top of the ones I provided.

Engaging with Spiralling Issue #1:

Early childhood education has historically developed due to external, often economic, interests

In the chapter you are assigned to read this week, Prochner and Nawrotzki (2019) show that even when ECE professionals traditionally defended children’s interests, throughout the history of ECE, children’s interests have typically become subservient to the interests of the wider public (see page 21). In addition, ECE has historically developed along social class lines, with enriched preschool programs for middle- and upper-class children and remedial programs for children from so-called poor families. The legacy of this phenomenon has important implications for current practice.

Prochner and Nawrotzki’s (2019) chapter that showed how ECE has developed through external influences (e.g., World War II, mass immigration) that left an impression on you. Consider responding to one or two of the following questions as you reflect upon this.

  • Why have these examples left an impression on you?
  • What did you learn from it?
  • Is it relevant to your understanding of present day early education childhood?
  • How might what you have learned this week tie into future topics in the course?

Engaging with Spiralling Issue #2:

Challenging stereotypical deficit images of childhood

We are constantly confronted with competing discourses of what childhood is as we are surrounded by beliefs and representations of childhoods in social media, newspapers, magazines, television, and advertising. As Sorin (2005) explained in her article, historical constructs of childhood still work their ways into current perceptions about children. The purpose of studying the multiple constructs of children is not to simply identify the constructions as “bad” or “good,” “adequate” or “inadequate.” Rather, studying the multiple constructions of childhood helps us become aware of how childhood has been stereotyped and can guide us against reductionist accounts of childhood (Woodhead, 2009).Order Now from Course ResearchersEngaging with Spiralling Issue #3:

Effects on ECE from a colonial era

The conventional view of children as educationally malleable and morally deficient has been a fertile ground for colonial education as cultural decimation. In their book, Empire, Education and Indigenous Childhoods: Nineteenth-Century Missionary Infant Schools in Three British Colonies, May, Kaur, and Prochner (2016) elucidate how the approach to infant education that began in England became the pedagogical foundation for colonial education in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Indigenous ECE scholars Sarah de Leeuw and Margo Greenwood (2016) explain that “infant schools were the places where education, through various cultural products upon which pedagogic ideals rested, was put to work in the instruction and disciplining of those Othered children into what colonial subjects believed to be righteous social imperatives” and “Indigenous peoples were those Others” (p. xvii).

History of Early Childhood Programs for Indigenous Children (Triggering Content Alert)

The history of early childhood programs for Indigenous children in Canada is marked with colonial policies of segregation and assimilation. In 1880, the Canadian government established residential schools to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture (Historica Canada), the last residential school was closed in 1996. Indigenous children as young as five were removed from their families and communities, isolated and deprived of their tradition and culture, separated from their siblings, and forbidden to speak their first language. The schools were administered by the churches and the living conditions were harsh. The content of the teaching was mostly religion and practical skills. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at least 3,200 Indigenous children died in overcrowded residential schools (See reports Links to an external site.). To learn more about the history of the residential schools visit: UBC Indigenous Foundations and the Canadian Encyclopedia Links to an external site..  Links to an external site.

Writing about ECE programs for Indigenous children in Canada, Prochner (2004) makes a clear link between the Infant School Movement in Europe to the justification of sending young Indigenous children to residential schools. He claims that from the early nineteenth-century colonial administrators used the rhetoric of the infant school, which reflected an extreme environmentalist position, to argue “that Indigenous children merely needed proper instruction in order to be remade as Europeans” (p. 10).

Greenwood, de Leeuw, and Fraser (2007) describe a troubling history of ECE Programs for Indigenous children in Canada; a history that began with educational protocols designed with the goal of assimilating Aboriginal children. They argue for the right of Indigenous people “to design and implement programs that foster the unique identity of children through the inclusion and direct implementation of Indigenous knowledges” with specially trained educators and teachings that “reflect the community and nation so that children are socialized into their heritage and ancestry.”

Current state of Indigenous early childhood development in Canada

To learn more about the current Indigenous early childhood programs and recommendations for future directions and action review: Indigenous Early Childhood Development in Canada: Current State of Knowledge and Future Directions Links to an external site. by Halseth and Greenwood (2019).

Engage in Spiralling Issue #4:

Problematizing child-as-nature

As you have learned in this Module, Rousseau’s educational theory still influences pedagogical practices in ECE in multiple ways. For example, tropes such as following the child’s lead and centring education on the child rather than on curriculum topics can be attributed to Rousseau. In our current ECE milieu, however, it may be the rise in outdoor ECE programs and spending more time in nature where Rousseau’s legacy lies.

Since Rousseau’s publication of Emile, young children and nature have existed as tightly entangled concepts As we will see in the next module, the conceptual relationship between child and nature was solidified by Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten. The German word “kindergarten” means children’s garden and it conjures a romantic image of a garden where innocent children grow and develop according to a natural, biological blueprint (Duhn, 2012). Due to this Romantic legacy, until recent years early childhood theorists and educators have shied away from critical engagement with the conflation of child-as-nature and its underlying assumption that there is a division between culture and nature. However, as global issues related to environmental damage and climate crises have risen, an increasing number of ECE scholars began to question, problematize or unsettle, the image of the child as nature and its assumed/desired separateness from culture (Duhn, 2012; Pacini-Ketchabaw & Taylor, 2015; Phillips, 2014; Nxumalo, 2015).

These scholars are concerned with the nature/culture dualism that Rousseau evoked for a number of reasons. Writing about Rousseau’s legacy, Peckover (2012) explains that “historically, humanity has viewed Nature as something outside of itself” (p. 91). The danger in this vision of nature is that nature can be viewed as a resource to be manipulated for the benefit of humans. Taylor (2011), in an article you are asked to read for this module, warns that an approach that supports sheltering children from the realities of our world (i.e., from societal and ecological issues) limits young children’s experiences and opportunities for meaning-making. Peckover (2012) argues that education can provide children with a vision of nature that is not separated from humanity or culture. This view corresponds to Indigenous perspectives on land as teacher, where language and culture are seen as closely interrelated with land and not as separate from it (see -Learning from the land: Indigenous land based pedagogy and decolonization).Order Now from Course ResearchersEngaging with Spiralling Issue #6:

ECE as a Gendered Field: Feminism or Materialism?

The leadership of women in the kindergarten movement needs to be taken into consideration within the socio-political norms of the time when early education was seen as “a logical extension of the traditional interests of women – children, the poor, and the sick” (Mayfield, 2001, p. 182) and when feminist movements “based their claims to equality on gender difference, and attributed to women a distinctive capacity for nurture, compassion and cooperation” (Allen, 2006, p. 175).

While this module highlighted the leadership and professional roles the kindergarten movement created for women, a lingering (or spiralling) issue from this era has been perpetuating the assumption put forth by Froebel’s contention that women are best suited for the role of an early childhood educator due to their “maternal nature.” The latter can be (and has been) heavily critiqued as stereotyping and essentializing women’s identity.

In Ailwood’s (2008) article that you are asked to read for this week, she powerfully argues that while the rise of the kindergarten movement was linked to social and political movements that promoted the welfare of women and children, and indeed challenged women to take up new roles in society, this era may have “trapped” women in socially constructed gender norms that make teaching in the early years an obvious choice for women. Hoskins and Smedley (2016) explain that gendered norms and gender discourses have “encouraged women to position themselves as valuing certain characteristics” (e.g., ‘a sense of self as helper rather than leader, as warm rather than ambitious, as emotional rather than rational’) (p. 211). This critique raises important questions about how the early childhood educator might be conceived beyond the stereotypical image of what Ailwood (2008) calls “maternalism.”

Additionally, Moss (2006) argues that if the underlying assumption is that early childhood educator’s practice is based on “natural instincts” then the consequence of such thinking is that extensive training for teachers of young children is hardly necessary. In Canada, over 96% of persons working in ECE are women and the educational requirements, as well as salary, are well below those of teachers working in the formal school system. For example, persons who work with children under 5 in a preschool or childcare settings require a college-level diploma while teachers who teach children five and up in the public school system are required to have a university degree and an additional teaching training program at a university level.

Engaging with Spiralling Issue #7:

The Missing Voices of Early Childhood Educators

Despite the fact that the nursery school movement was developed by highly inventive educators (mostly women), the voices of educators as creative contributors to ECE pedagogy are often missing from historical (and even present) accounts. In her book Women educators in the progressive era, Anne Durst (2010) argues that while many educators know of John Dewey’s contributions to education, little focus has been brought to the women who helped develop the progressive pedagogies that are influential to this day.

Engaging with Spiralling Issue #8:

Ethical Considerations for Doing Research with Children

As you could discern from the content pages and media resources, the scientific study of children, which began as a means to find answers to questions about human nature, or as Varga (2011) said, as “a desire to know everything about children,” is not without criticism. Scholarly critique has mounted with regard to the desirability of thinking of the child as an object of study (Varga, 2011). Whether it is in Gesell’s observation domeLinks to an external site. (as seen in the video), or even in the lab schools as described above, adults hold the power to interpret the meaning of children’s behaviours, words, and actions often with little input from the child. In recent years, this “unequal relationship between the observing expert and the observed child,” as well as the “non-negotiable transfer of knowledge about the subject to the investigator” (Varga, 2011, p. 2) has been challenged as new theories and methods afforded a view of children as rights bearers and as valued research participants. The reading by Koch (2021) this week aims at introducing you to contemporary approaches to the study of children, where the relation between the adult (researcher) and the child is critically explored.

  • Think about the influence of developmental theory on your thinking about young children, who they are, and what their potential is. Can you come up with some examples of how thinking about young children through the developmental approach either limited or expanded your view about the child/children?
  • the ethical issues that are involved in considering children as objects of scientific study? What alternative approaches to the study of children do you see as ethical?

Engaging in Spiralling Issue #9:

The dominance of developmental approaches: Continuing the dialogue.

After browsing through the latest version of Developmentally Appropriate Practice and reading the chapter Repositioning Developmentalism by Kilderry (2015). Think about how you reconcile the critique of the developmental theory (e.g., universalism, lack of attention to power and colonial history) with common beliefs about child development and its relationship to curriculum, learning, and teaching in ECE.

  • “Reposition – what theories are used in your setting to observe and plan learning experiences for young children? How can children be re/positioned as ‘children with capabilities’?
  • Reframe – what theories other than those offered by child development can be used to view children’s achievements?
  • Engage learners – how can you recognize the varied and diverse ways in which children learn? What are the many ways this can be represented?
  • Empower – how can practice encompass a view where children are viewed as rights holders, able to express their views and to have their opinions heard and acted upon? What do you need to change to enable children to be positioned this way?
  • Critical reflection – in what ways can practitioners critically reflect on practice, and devise equitable and ethical ways of working with young children?” (p. 8)

Order Now from Course ResearchersEngaging with Spiralling Issue #10:

The Challenges of Transporting ECE Approaches from other Cultures and Places

Transporting ECE theory and pedagogy across continents is not a new practice. Pestalozzi, Froebel, and Owen are some of the examples we discussed of European influences on ECE in North America. However, transporting ECE approaches from other places and cultures into our local contexts (including our context’s histories, geographies, socio-political and ecological issues) is not without challenges. The notion of place-based education and the importance of creating an ECE curriculum that is relevant to the local land, its ecology and history are becoming a “hot” topic in early childhood research, policy and practice (Nxumalo, 2019). For example, browse through the British Columbia Early Learning FrameworkLinks to an external site. (2019) and pay attention to the centrality of the concept of place and how the Framework invites educators (and children) to make connections with place, community, and Indigenous knowledges to create early childhood education that is unique to British Columbia.

Based on what you have learned from the B.C. Early Learning Framework and your study of the approaches from Europe (Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia), share your thoughts on the complexity of “importing” ECE educational theories and methods from other cultures and places. What are your views on creating an ECE program that is unique to particular places, such as British Columbia?

Engaging in Spiralling Issue #11:

Is it time to reconceptualize childcare?

n its 2021 budget, Canada’s federal government made a commitment to creating Canada-wide early learning and child care systemLinks to an external site.. This announcement is considered a historic landmark for childcare advocates because the history of childcare, and especially the history of childcare as it relates to social policy, has been “a story littered with disappointment” (Pasolli, 2021, n.p.). With Canada’s childcare initiative, we may have been given a unique opportunity to “mend” the childcare issues of the past and reconceptualize what childcare might be in the future beyond ‘a service for working mothers.’

After reading Prochner’s (2000) and Motapanyane and McFarlane’s (2019) chapters, and browsing the website: Caring About Care, you are invited to contribute how you envision future childcare in Canada. How would you respond to the survey questions above (Should childcare be publicly funded? What would be the purpose of childcare? What should be the focus of the childcare program?)

Engaging in Spiralling Issue #12:

The Past and Present Encounter the Future

As you have seen throughout this course, ECE as a distinctive field of theory, research, policy and practice is always in transformation (think about the spiral metaphor). As we have entered the 21st century, new (or sometimes old and unresolved) local and global issues and movements have surfaced and they undoubtedly will affect the future of ECE, because they impact future generations of children, families and communities. These changes raise new questions for ECE. For example,

How might ECE change in the face of severe ecological damage and climate crisis?

How might ECE become an active participant in anti-racism and anti-colonial movements?

How can we move towards a more just and inclusive ECE? and How might ECE contribute to a more just and inclusive world?

How might we think about ECE with the Seven Generations principleOrder Now from Course ResearchersReferences:

Issue #1

  • Prochner, L., & Nawrotzki, K. (2019). The origins of the current era of early childhood care and education. In C. P. Brown, M. Benson McMullen, N. File (Eds.) The Wiley Handbook of Early Childhood Care and Education, (pp. 7-27). Wiley Blackwell. (Library Online Course Reserves

Issue #2

  • Gittins, Diana (2015). The historical construction of childhood, in M. J. Kehily (Ed.), An introduction to childhood studies (Second edition), 35-49. Berkshire: England. Open University Press. (Library Course Reserves – Note: Gittins has a chapter in Kehily’s book that is available in the Library Online Course Reserves. You can download Gittins’ chapter as a PDF or read online).
  • Sorin, R. (2005). Changing_images_of_childhood_Reconceptualising_ear (1).pdf Actions. International Journal of Transitions in Childhood, (1), 12-21.
  • Greenwood, M. (2006). Children are a gift to us: Aboriginal-specific early childhood programs and services in Canada. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 29(1), 12 -28. (Library Course Reserve).

Issue #3

  • De Leeuw, S. (2009). ‘If anything is to be done with the Indian, we must catch him very young’: colonial constructions of Aboriginal children and the geographies of Indian residential schooling in British Columbia, Canada. Children’s Geographies, 7(2), 123-140. doi: 10.1080/14733280902798837 (Library Course Reserve)
  • Prochner, Larry (2000). A history of early education and child care in Canada, 1820-1966. ( 11 – 22 until the paragraph about Private Kindergartens). In L. Prochner & N. Howe (Eds.) Early childhood care and education on Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press. (Library Course Reserve)

Issue #4

  • MacDonald, M., Rudkowski, M., & Schärer, J. H. (2013). Lingering Discourses: Jean Jacque Rousseau’s 18th-century images of mothers, fathers, and children. Journal of Childhood Studies,38(1), 21-28. (Free access journal).
  • Taylor, A. (2011). Reconceptualizing the ‘nature’ of childhood. Childhood, 18(4), 420-433. Links to an external site.(Library Online Course Reserves)

Issue #6

  • Ailwood, J. (2008). Mothers, teachers, maternalism and early childhood education and care: Some historical connections. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 8(2), 157-165. (The article can be accessed on the Contemporary Issues in Early Childhoodwebsite or here – Links to an external site.
  • Swiniarski, L. (2016). Elizabeth Peabody (1804–94): Implementing Froebel’s play-based learning. In , Jarvis, L., Swiniarski & W., Holland (Eds.), Early Years Pioneers in Context(pp. 48-64). Routledge.(LOCR)
  • Swiniarski, L. (2016). Susan Blow (1843–1916): Funding kindergartens and training professionals for American kindergartens in public education. In , Jarvis, L., Swiniarski & W., Holland (Eds.), Early Years Pioneers in Context(pp. 65-78). Routledge. (LOCR)

Issue #7

  • Wisneski, D. B. (2012). “Silent voices of knowing.” In Nancy File, Jennifer J. Mueller, & Debora Basler Wisneski (Eds.), Curriculum in early childhood education: Re-examined, rediscovered, renewed (pp. 3-13). Routledge. (LOCR)
  • Hauser, Mary E. (2006). Learning from children: The life and legacy of Caroline Pratt. Peter Lang Publishing Inc. Read Chapter Six, Defining and enacting
a radical educational philosophy (pp. 79-88). (LOCR)

Issue #8

  • Varga, D. (1997). Constructing the child. James Lorimer & Company, Ltd, Publishers. Canada: Toronto. Read Chapter Three: Constructing the new child (pp. 39-65). (LOCR)
  • Koch, A., B. (2021). Children as participants in research. Playful interactions and negotiation of researcher–child relationships, Early Years, 41(4), 381-395, DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2019.1581730 (LOCR)

Issue #9

  • Kilderry, A. (2014).  Repositioning Developmentalism. In M. Reed & R. Walker (Eds.). A critical companion to early childhood. (pp. 116-126)Sage. (LOCR).

Issue #10

  • Aljabreen, H. (2020). Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia: A comparative analysis of alternative models of early childhood education. International Journal of Early Childhood, 52(3), 337-353. DOI: 1007/s13158-020-00277-1 Links to an external site.

Issue #11

  • Prochner, L. (2000). A history of early education and child care in Canada, 1820-1966. ( 39 – 63). In L. Prochner & N. Howe (Eds.) Early childhood care and education on Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press. (LOCR)
  • Motapanyane, M., & McFarlane, A. (2019). Childcare as a public and common good: A Canadian perspective. In Zufferey, F. Buchanan(Eds.) Intersections of Mothering (pp. 57-74). Routledge. (LOCR)
  • Browse the website: Caring About Care. Links to an external site. Focus your attention on the section titled: Shattering Myths and choose at least two of the four myths that are being debunked about care.

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