An exploration of English and Swedish pre-school teachers’ perspectives on their roles and values
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AbstractThis comparative investigation aims to explore the values of an English and a Swedish pre-school teacher, focusing on their roles and the experiences they provide for three and four-year-old children. Values are beliefs held by individuals to which they attach special worth or priority (Hill, 1991); and this research recognises that values are personalised and shaped by the social, cultural and political contexts in which the teachers are situated and as a prism through which practice is realised. This thesis examines growing international research evidence in the field of early childhood education (ECE) that has shown that high quality early childhood education is linked to teacher qualification and pedagogic approach, which has a significant impact on children’s learning outcomes (Sylva et al., 2010). The literature examined affirms that early years practitioners’ underlying beliefs and the transmission of values must be scrutinised through critical reflection and made ‘explicit’ and brought to the surface to transform early years practitioners’ practice (Brookfield, 2017). Two ‘day in the life of’ videos were filmed (in a Swedish and an English pre-school) using polyvocal ethnography (Tobin and Hayashi, 2012) to capture two teachers’ multiple ‘voices’ in an attempt to ascertain their values through ongoing dialogue, telling and retelling of their ‘stories’ provoked by their reflections on the video footage. The videos provided data which were used to elicit thick, rich reflections. The findings revealed many similarities in the teachers’ values, especially regarding relationships, a play-based pedagogy, valuing parents as partners, the layout of the environment and types of resources utilised, valuing the voice and rights of the child alongside the role of the adult in terms of nurturing children’s independence, knowing the children, and modelling. There were more pronounced differences, however, with regard to the teachers’ views on how children learn and the role of the adult. It is concluded that these differences are shaped by the underpinning educational policy and the curricula in the teachers’ respective countries. This investigation has generated a framework entitled ‘situated pedagogy’, based on the thinking of Habermas (1987) and Rogoff (2003), which offers early years practitioners the opportunity to make their values more visible through the lens of their daily pedagogical practices, taking into consideration the societal, political and cultural contexts in which they are based.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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