ERG SES C 03, Parallel Session C 03
Individuals’ beliefs have a direct impact on all aspects of human behavior. Based on personal experience, value system and philosophy that favours, individuals create a belief system for each major issue that concerns them. Rarely these beliefs rest on scientifically valid data. Most of the times are related with internal deep-rooted representations. When it comes to the issue of education, it is widely recognized that teachers play an important role in the cognitive and emotional development of the infants. Taking into account of individuals’ beliefs, one may argue that teachers’ beliefs directly affect their practices. Bearing in mind the decisive role of educators in the formation of the infant, I consider that the beliefs of early childhood educators should be a matter of discussion and is therefore the focus of my contribution.
As a theoretical framework is used the concept of the capability approach, pioneered by Amartya Sen and further developed by Martha Nussbaum. In Nussbaum’s list the following mentioned acts, namely play, senses-imagination-thought, affiliation, and emotions, are indicated as basic human capabilities. Sen (1999) argues that capabilities that adults enjoy are deeply conditional on their experiences as children, in as much as “they can make adult lives richer and less problematic since a secure preparatory childhood can augment our skill in living a good life”. This claim is unequivocal, if we consider the long-term effects of early childhood education, being verified by well-known intervention studies. In early childhood literature the intrinsic value of play, imagination, thought, and social and emotional development is praised. The debate about these aspects is timely and yet timeless demonstrating their interrelation as well as their instrumentality in children’s development.
Important theorists such as Piaget, Vygotsky and Freud, but even more recent researchers such as Gardner, Mayer & Salovey have been concerned with the meaning and the role of these components of the human existence with regard to the development of the child.
Previous research with regard to the pre-school teacher’s beliefs and practices has been conducted mostly in the U.S.A. the past years and it is mainly connected with the examination of the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) guidelines as well as with the impact of Developmental Appropriate Practices (DAP). The lack of research in the area of pre-school teachers’ beliefs and practices in Europe and specifically in Greece, as being the country where the survey has been conducted, has led me to reveal and to illuminate unknown aspects of this field of knowledge by addressing the following questions:
Which factors of pre-primary teachers’ background (e.g. educational level, working experience, motivation, self-efficacy) affect the beliefs with regard to what is important for the children?
Are there statistically significant differences in the beliefs of the teachers with respect to the capabilities of play, senses-imagination-thought, affiliation and emotions to children?
According to the teachers, do these capabilities consist an end to themselves or the means of the educational procedure in the pre-school institutions?
Bernstein, B. (1975): Class and Pedagogies: Visible and Invisible. Educational Studies, Vol: 1, pp. 23 - 41 Bredekamp, S. & Copple, C. (1997): Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs. National Association for the Education Kagan, D. (1992): Implications of Research on Teacher Belief. Educational Psychologist, 27 (1) pp. 65-90, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Nussbaum M. & Sen, A.(1993): The quality of life. Clarendon Press - Oxford Nussbaum, M. (2010): Not for Profit: Why Democracy needs the Humanities. Princeton University Press Pajares, F. (1992): Teachers’ Beliefs and Educational Research: Cleaning Up a Messy Construct. Review of Educational Research, Vol. 62, No. 3, pp. 307-332 Richardson, V. (2003): Pre-service Teachers’ Beliefs, in: Teacher Beliefs & classroom Performace: The Impact of Teacher Education, Vol. 6 – Advances in Teacher Education. Age Publishing Inc. Sen, A. (1999): Commodities and Capabilities. Oxford University Press Sen, A. (2010): The idea of Justice. Penguin Books Vartuli, S. (1999): How Early Childhood Beliefs Vary Across Grade Level. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 489-514 Wood, E. & Attfield, J. (2005): Play, Learning and the Early Childhood Curriculum. Sage Publications Zhihui, F. (1996): A review of research on teacher beliefs and practices. Educational Research, Vol. 38, No: 1
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