Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

Exploring the concepts on early childhood studies through the lens of people across the globe


3 Comments

Professional Hopes and Goals

childrens-drawings-716340_1280

The issues of diversity, equity and social justice permeate in our societies as remnants of the historical experiences of racism, classism, religionism and genderism among many others are deeply rooted in traditions, practices, and systems in our society. These have formed personal, familial and community cultures that come in harmony or conflict with each other. The awareness about these issues comes in different levels – with some cognizant than the others, partially un/conscious, or completely unmindful. Not being able to address these could negatively impact both the advantaged and the disadvantaged. By dwelling mainly on the majority and power cultures strips those who are perceived weak the right to assert their beliefs and practices and become visible in the society. On the other hand, those in the dominant end lose the opportunity to see wider perspectives, and learn from the strengths that others have.

As an early childhood educator, it is my hope that the foundation of injustice, bias and prejudice be uprooted from the system through the hope-718703_1280education of the young children. Educating them encompasses a culturally relevant and critical pedagogy that would not only respect their cultures, but also sustain the desire to preserve their cultures while incorporating those of others. As well, a curriculum that would help the young child understand the whole picture of diversity as they relate to equity and social justice is liberation from potential oppression. Working with children and their families is a step forward to raise consciousness that could impact their thinking and precepts. These children who would develop an awareness of diversity and equity would be the future adults who could re-shape the systems that are now embedded in our society.

The early childhood field must continue to be vigilant in guarding the signs of bias, prejudice, and injustice in any setting. Anyone involved inforward-476100_1280 the early childhood education must have a self-awareness of ethical practices that would enable them to work effectively with children and families coming from diverse abilities, classes, cultures, and backgrounds. Systems must be in place so that every individual who works for and with children have the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to educate a whole child within his or her context.

Personal stories and insights shared by colleagues have expanded my awareness of diversity, equity, and injustice. The lens shared by many chalkboard-620316_1280provided a bigger picture of these issues. I was able to see beyond the narrow scope of my perspective. Realizing that although individuals including myself have suffered from different forms of indignities continue to rise from adversity and persist in changing the system that hurts many brings hope that one day, fairness, justice and equity will be fully achieved.

Reference:

Hyland, N. E. (2010). Social justice in early childhood classrooms: What the research tells us. YC: Young Children65(1), 82–87. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/docview/197637742/fulltextPDF?accountid=14872

Advertisements


5 Comments

Welcoming Families from Around the World

Being familiar with a place usually stems from what you hear in the news, people’s conversations about their travels, people you meet at work, as castle-861015_1280well as tourism advertisement. By far, Estonia is a country that does not seem to be commonly mentioned within the range of news that I hear and read about as well as the stories from travellers with whom I come across. Having the opportunity to work with families from different places, I have not met one from this place. Thus, I choose Estonia to feature in this blog as a family to know and work with.

Estonia is located in Northern Europe. It is South of Finland, facing the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland. It is composed of 1,500 islands and populated by 1.325 million residents as of 2013. The country gained independence from Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Russia in 1918 and again regained its impendence from Russia in 1991. Reading more about the country’s GDP, fertility rate and government system still would not enable me to uncover the surface of who the family I am working with. To know an individual or a family requires a depth of knowledge about the family culture – their beliefs, practices, attitudes and experiences they come with. As well, the family culture is not a whole representation of the presence-904565_1280child’s identity. Thus, the child’s unique personal identity must also be learned. To effectively work with the child and the family, there are certain factors that need to be considered and looked into.

  1. Get to know the child and his/her family not only through a piece of paper.

Although it is a good start to find pertinent information about the new family through a questionnaire to gain surface insight about them, I have to conscientiously be aware of my conversations and other forms of interaction to build upon my knowledge about them. I have to see, feel, and hear the child.

  1. Establish an effective means of communication.

From the start, I will consult the family how best we can exchange communication. Through this approach, there will be bilateral means of exchanging information in order to avoid assumptions and judgments. Having a platform to express themselves also assures that they have a voice in the program.

  1. Establish trust and respect through transparency.

By inviting the family to be a part of the program, allowing them to participate in ways that would empower them as collaborators in the education of their child, the family learns more about the program and the new environment with which their child is a part. This provides opportunities to become aware of their similarities and differences with all the other families. Recognizing these is a start to build trust and respect for others who may be different from them.

  1. Create an environment where the child and the family would feel that they belong.

community-909149_1280Displaying the work of the child, as well as other symbols that represent the child and the family’s personal and social identities make them feel that they are part of the group. It affirms and validates the culture that they bring with them.

  1. Establish and maintain a relationship.

Welcoming a new family does not end with provisions of materials and handouts that would acquaint the family about the program. Neither it is limited to scheduled parent and child conferences only. As Diffily and Morrison (1996) write, “a strong home-school connection is essential when building a good environment for young children.”

Through the approaches mentioned earlier, I am hoping that I am able to scratch the surface to know and understand the new child and the family that I work with. The symbiotic relationships between the child, his or herplanning-620299_1280 family and the program staff would help in recognising the differences between the two environments – home and school, so that differences can be tolerated, and have the flexibility to compromise when necessary in order to serve the best interest of the child.

References:

Diffily D. & Morrison, K. eds. (1996). Family-Friendly Communications for Early Childhood Programs. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Washington, D.C.

“Estonia.” Cities of the World. 2002. Retrieved December 11, 2015 from Encyclopedia.com:http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3410700124.html


5 Comments

The Personal Side of Bias, Prejudice and Oppression

When I think of bias, prejudice and oppression, I tend to look back at the historical beginnings of stratification and dominance, when slavery chains-19176_1280and colonialism are at their peak. Was it a case of not having a choice or choosing to follow to escape the consequence of counter action? Turner (2005) differentiates the standard view of power and the three-process theory of power where the former delves into the control of resources and interdependence; whereas the three-process theory denotes that “power is an emergent property of specific social and psychological relations between people and these relations shape the form it takes” (Turner, 2005). The latter perspective gives us hope in redefining the norms, beliefs, and practices that have been established over time as power can influence “people to act in line with one’s desires by persuading them that the desired judgment, decision, belief or action is correct, right, moral, appropriate” (Turner, 2005). Thus, the norms, beliefs and practices formed from long ago, can be shaped by the change in circumstances to ensure that it would be for the benefit of the people and not of those leading.

I say this in the hope that all the prejudices and biases that fabricated my poor self-image and those of others would eventually put to a stop. From economic to racial and gender slurs, I had them all. However, I will only focus now on the classism on poverty that I experienced in life. Being young, I hated to admit that my family belonged to the low-income group. This would mean that my friends at school would look down on me, would not treat me the same as they treat those who are in the high-income bracket. People who did not have money were judged with the way they dressed, talked and conducted themselves in public. There was such as a thing as “cheap talk” because people who are poor do not know any better. Thus, I vowed to myself that I would never admit that we did not have money as the economic status automatically comes with respect/disrespect from others. To get away from judgments, as soon as I walked out of school, I disassociated myself from peers and ventured into my safe world at home. As I moved to university, there was a thing called,“sub-urbanism”. I coined this word to describe a person like me who came from the city, but not the metropolis – a city that has its accent that stop-863665_1280was described as “provincial”. Interest and social groups in university were formed based on geographical locations, how smart you are based on the perception of others and one’s religious affiliation. Dormitories were tagged as “classy”, those occupied by the rich; “oldies”, those who are quite ‘old’ pursuing their masters and doctorates and “provincial”, those who come from outside the metropolis. Of course, I stayed at the one dubbed as “provincial” and only socialized with my kind as I seemed to be invisible when I walked past the “rich kids”. I came to pass the hallways pretending that I was walking through an empty space. As a young adult, I continued to face invisibility in social settings when my sister married a man who came from a well-off family. Each time I visited my sister, I would greet her in-laws and they would just walk past me as if nothing was heard. I cringe upon the memory of those moments when I felt invisible. Thus, I vowed to myself after graduation that I would never be poor. At 20, I worked for my independence. I worked at least 15 hours a day to do extra change-20272_1280teaching for more income. I had my child at 24 and worked even harder. By then, I was able to establish myself at work and was already being honed for a leadership role. I was relieved that I was no longer being scrutinized with how much or less money I have, but with the abilities that I have.

To this date, recounting all those experiences and realizing my feats at this time in my life, I am proud to be where I am. I knew I could not change these people by questioning their behavior towards me. However, showing them that I have gone miles apart from my beginnings, that I chess-316657_1280have gained more than what they had then, their perspectives have changed. As well, those others who have seen beyond what they see on the surface, my color, gender, and race have lifted me up from the invisible context. My abilities were honed and appreciated. I have become a respected individual. In this regard, I changed my predicament with the support of those who have “the power to influence people to act in line to what are correct and moral” (Turner, 2005). This is the power that we need to promote equity.

success-620300_1280

Reference:

Turner, J. (2005). Explaining the nature of power: A three-process theory. European Journal of Social Psychology. 35 (1). Retrieved from         http://www.researchgate.net/publication/227724259_Explaining_the_Nature_of_Power_A_Three-Process_Theory