Diverse Early Childhood Education: Policies and Practices --- Chapter 1

 Introduction: Expanding the Discourse of Early Childhood Education and Teacher Education

Chapter 1 introduces the book with a narrative account of existing tensions between the dominant discourse and local practices in non-western school settings. The chapter emphasizes the interfacing of local and global elements in the creation of a hybrid space in some classroom practices in Asia, and urges the development and expansion of a third space in theory based on research conducted in the local context. A discussion on the conceptual frameworks utilized in the study follows, with an overview of the current global spotlight on early childhood education. The chapter ends with a brief overview of the research methodology underlying this study.

Passages taken from Chapter 1:

"...Cross-cultural research has indeed consistently highlighted the different constructions of childhood within diverse social, political, and cultural contexts (Cannella, 1997; Bloch, 1992; Kessler, 1991,1992; Delpit, 1995; Katz, 1996; Viruru, 2001; Trawick-Smith, 2006; Gupta, 2006; Tobin et al., 2009; Marfo & Biersteker, 2011; Brooker, 2011). However, for the longest time, it has been the Western voice and knowledge that have dominated the early childhood educational discourse. Emerging diversities regarding images of children and childhood have thus worked to create a tension between the Western discourse of early childhood education and teacher education theory, and the cultural worldviews of the non-West..." (page 1)

"...This then begs the question of how the “voice” of pedagogy and educational theory can be made more inclusive and multilayered. A good place to start is by asking what it is that sustains the status quo of educational and teacher education theory and what prevents it from incorporating a more expansive knowledge base. Referring to the important ways in which indigenous knowledge could contribute to the educational experience of all students, Semali and Kincheloe note that “because of the rules of evidence and the dominant rules of epistemologies of Western knowledge production, such understandings are deemed irrelevant by the academic gatekeepers” (Semali & Kincheloe, 1999, p. 15)..." (page 2).

"...Curricular reformers in Asia today are grappling with the hegemonical expectations of Western culture at the global level on one hand and the need for a more culturally relevant curriculum at the local level on the other hand. During the course of this research in Asia, it was observed that many educational centers/schools for young children were touting philosophies and mission statements that were couched heavily in the language of the Western discourse. Being seen as an “international school,” a “world-class school,” a school having “global standards,” a school based on “international methods” and offering “English-medium instruction” seemed all of a sudden to afford the centers credibility and make them eligible for funding from a variety of local, national, and international sources. This is painfully reminiscent of the educational policies in colonial India that required schools to use English as the language of instruction if they were to be funded by the British Administration. Today, that language of pedagogy is taken from the progressive discourse of the West against whose standards schools are evaluated around the world...." (page 4).

For more, please read Chapter 1 in this book.