20 SES 11 B, Roundtable: Rich Experiences: The Value of Cross-Cultural Tourism and Professional Learning in the Early Years
This paper presents a comparative study of Early Years settings and frameworks in Ankara and London. It focuses on cross cultural exchanges during visits by 6 academics working in this field from two universities, The University of Ankara and The University of Greenwich, as they navigate understanding and learning from the different contexts each presents. Both countries have private and state provision with policy frameworks at government level but there similarity ends. With the highest rate of child poverty in the EU and high child mortality, UNICEF and the Turkish government have been working on concomitant educational and health disadvantages as well as gender issues developing the area of pre-primary education as key to establishing a more equitable starting point. In Turkey, Early Years qualifications sit within a medical science developmental framework. In the UK, where the challenges are different, Early Years is taught within an education framework with aspects of health and interprofessional working added. Pedagogy and curriculum have more of a focus, and with degrees in Early Years and Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) debates around qualifications being teacher-led continues. The paper presents a comparison of the different qualifications and training methods in the two countries.
Observing practice in the UK, Turkish academics commented on differences in child-centred and child-led practice in South London, compared to Ankara. However, in Ankara in 2012, a two-day consultation ‘Children`s Opinions on the Process for a New Constitution' saw children asked to contribute to the drafting of the new Turkish constitution. Indeed, fundamental changes in the perception of children’s rights, have seen innovative strategies to develop awareness of culture and a range of inclusion initiatives with the potential for exciting new ways of thinking about social justice in Turkey. The outcome of further consideration of child initiated learning is therefore explored within the paper.
In the UK context, amid debates around new methodologies encouraging listening to children, alternative education methods, and European debates around no schooling before the age of 7, inclusion, play, and concepts of wellbeing are currently in focus (Clarke and Moss 2001; Wild & Street 2013; Knight & McNaught 2011). The paper also considers and compares the role and valuing of the outdoor curriculum in the UK and that of drama in Turkey, and their transferrable learning opportunities (Joyce 2012; Gill 2005).
Turkey and the UK present exciting opportunities for rich cross-cultural comparison of frameworks, training and educational pathways for Higher Educational qualifications and for consideration and reflection on practice in settings. At a time when the School of Education in The University of Greenwich is transitioning toward the Faculty of Education and Health, the more science-based aspects of the Turkish model offers new ways of thinking about qualifications and training in the Early Years but also a way of understanding the different frameworks within which Higher Education operates in this field. The participatory nature of the co-constructed reflexive methodology is one in which each learns from the other in communication with an awareness of intercultural tourism (Spivak 1993).
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