01 SES 07 A, Teachers of Young Children
Parallel Paper Session
The paper presents research which explored whether teacher’s attitudes and assumptions about consultation with young children could be positively enhanced by intervention and if this enhancement in turn could improve young children’s participation in their learning. The aim of the research was to develop the teachers’ self-awareness of lived experiences: their views, assumptions and habits with regard to listening, consultation and participation with young children. Through professional development in the form of creative collaborative workshops and engagement in reflective tasks, over a period of time, participation with young children was enhanced and sustained. The study also developed the ‘9 R’s of Reflection’, a practical tool, that enabled insight into what the nature of critical reflection as a process felt like for early years practitioners. This reflective framework enabled critical reflection to be operationalized as part of practitioners’ day to day teaching as a purposeful process of engagement which enabled them to focus positively on the ‘problems and difficulties’ they faced within the applied educational setting. The implementation of the ‘9 R’s’ supported the breaking down of the conflict between the teacher’s desire to follow children’s interests and ideas and their own feelings of pressure to conform to the technical rationale demands and commodification of education pursued by such bodies as Ofsted and Local Authorities.
The study takes critical social theory as its underpinning based on the principles of empowerment, social justice, emancipation and freedom and predominantly informed by the theories of Freire (1994) and transformative learning (Mezirow, 1997). I draw on Friere’s ‘conscientisation’ which involves questioning assumptions that have been taken for granted and raises awareness of new perspectives and personal actions that can lead to the transformation of oppressing professional customs (Jacobs and Murray, 2010). Within this paper a practical understanding of critical reflection in relation to participation, relevant for the present day, is explored, (Dewey, 1933; Schön, 1987; and Brookfield, 1995). Particular attention is given to Moon’s (2008) assertion that one person cannot make another person reflect, they can only facilitate or foster a critically reflective approach through appropriate conditions.
Within the paper, reflection is unravelled and re-evaluated through the application of U Theory (Scharmer, 2009) and the axiom that reflection needs to start with the self before the other. The paper’s central argument is that at the heart of the reflective approach is the need for openness as the first step. Without this understanding and ‘readiness,’ reflection becomes a misinterpretation and thus is not at one with itself. The paper demonstrates how engaging with and applying the ‘9 steps of Reflection’ teacher’s became ‘ready’ to reflect and to engage in a meaningful process of reflection. This process enabled the teachers to become better at listening to, consulting and participating with, young children. At the heart of this study then, reflection was the understanding that “significant change in how one teaches can only come about as a result of some realisation about oneself as a teacher, and the resulting changes in identity” (Feldman and Weiss, 2010, p. 29).
Bath, C. (2009). Learning to belong: Exploring young children’s participation at the start of school. London: Routledge. Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Company Clough, P., & Nutbrown, C. (2007). A student’s guide to Methodology. London: Sage. Davies, S., & Artaraz, K. (2009). Towards an understanding of factors influencing early years professionals’ practice of consultation with young people. Children and Society, 23, (1), 57-69. Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. New York: Heath and Company Feldman, A., & Weiss, T. (2010). Understanding change in teachers’ ways of being through collaborative action research: A cultural-historical activity theory analysis. Educational Action Research, 18 (1), 29-55. Freire, P. (1994). Pedagogy of hope. New York: Continuum. Hassan, Z. (2005). Connecting to Source. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from: www.world changing.com/. Kemmis, S. (2010). What is to be done? The place of action research. Educational Action Research, 18 (4) 417 – 427. McCormack, B., & Boomer, C. (2007). Creating the conditions for growth. Report on the Belfast City Hospital and The Royal Hospitals Collaborative Practice Development Programme. Belfast, NI: Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. McIntosh, P. (2010). Action research and reflective practice. Creative and visual methods to facilitate reflection and learning. London: Routledge.. Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice. In P. Cranton (Ed.). Transformative learning in action: Insights from practice: new directions for adult and continuing education (No. 74, pp. 5-12). San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass. Moon, J. (2008). Critical thinking: An exploration of theory and practice. Oxford: Routledge. Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner toward a new design for teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Scharmer, C.O. (2009). Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
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