03 SES 08 B, Early Childhood Education Curriculum
During the last decade, a great deal of attention is being paid to the need for new curricula or pedagogical guidelines in early childhood education. Acknowledgement of this need has lead to the publication of new national or state curricula in many countries worldwide. Curriculum reform processes influence teaching practice and shape teachers’ views on what constitutes a legitimate curriculum (Taylor et al., 1997). Educational policy is not merely a product, but rather a process (Osgood, 2004) which is developed in 3 contexts: the context of policy text production, the context of influence and the context of implementation (Bowe et al., 1992). At the level of implementation, a policy can be interpreted in a way that would lead to intended and/or unintended outcomes (Hodgson & Spours, 2006). At this stage, teachers are in an empowered position; it is in their hands to “put the pieces together” (Ball, 1994, p. 12). The experience, background, personal history of every teacher effect the way he/she will interpret –and consequently implement- educational policies (Hall, 2001).
A number of previous studies have expressed the concern that teachers often resist changing their role in the classroom, resulting to a significant inconsistency between the official curriculum and the applied curriculum (Kallery & Psilos, 2002; Kwon, 2004; Gibbons, 2011). This concern motivates the present study, given a number of additional adjustments in Greek preschool education, which in the last 25 years involved the enactment of new curricula, and the foundation of Pedagogical Departments at University level. These adjustments have resulted in significant changes in the intended profile of the preschool teacher, who is expected to readily adopt contemporary teaching methods and transform innovative pedagogical premises into classroom practice.
The aim of the study is to investigate the consistency between teaching practice and curriculum guidelines. The focus is on science teaching practices used in preschool education, and more particularly the methodologies introduced by teachers to approach science concepts. The science concept of “Evaporation” serves as an example to reach the aim of the study. The research questions of the present study are:
(a) In what way(s) is the concept of Evaporation approached in preschool classrooms?
(b) Does this way converge with curriculum guidelines?
(c) Is the approach selected related to the teachers’ professional background and in what way?
Ball, S. (1994). Educational reform. A critical and post-structural approach. Buckingham: Open University Press. Bowe, R., Ball, S. J., & Gold, A. (1992). Reforming education and changing schools. London: Routledge. Gibbons, A. (2011). The incoherence of curriculum: questions concerning early childhood teacher educators. Australasian Journal of Early Education, 36(1), 9-15. Hall, K. (2001). An analysis of primary literacy policy in England using Barthes’ notion of “readerly” and “writerly” texts. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 1(2), 153-165. Hodgson, A., & Spours, K. (2006). An analytical framework for policy engagement: The contested case of 14-19 reform in England. Journal of Educational Policy, 21(6), 679-696. Kallery, M. & Psillos, D. (2002). What happens in the early years science classroom? European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 10(2), 49-61. Kwon, Y.-I. (2004). Early childhood education in Korea: discrepancy between national kindergarten curriculum and practices. Educational Review, 56(3), 297-312. Osgood, J. (2004). Time to get down to business? The responses of early years practitioners to entrepreneurial approaches to professionalism. Journal of Early Childhood Education Research, 2(1), 5-24. Taylor, S., Rizvi, F., Lingard, B., & Henry, M. (1997). Educational policy and politics of change. London: Routledge.
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