Obstacles to the implementation of good ECE

“I believe,” Diti Hill writes, “that a lack of indepth practitioner understanding of the notion of ‘curriculum’, a confused understanding around the political, historical and theoretical foundations to Te Whariki, and an absence of the conscious alignment of this understanding with practice, present obstacles that outweigh structural factors such as staffing, qualifications and funding (Carr & May, 2000).” (23)

If practitioners, particularly those working with children aged birth to three years, are to make sense of the multiple demands made on them by parents, the government and the diverse voices of ‘best practice’, they must be able to identify, critically evaluate and realign the particular contexts within which and alongside which, the nation curriculum Te Whariki is to be realised. These contexts, although of a cognitive nature, manifest themselves in concrete forms and overlap with the idea of ‘programme planning’. So, for example, ‘play’ is an abstract body of knowledge: it is, in the first instance, no more than a culturally-derived bundle of ideas about the way young children learn and make meaning of the world. It is the adults in children’s lives who translate these ideas into concrete resources and familiarise ‘play’ for themselves and for children as the things that occupy space and time in early childhood settings.” (23)

To unpack some of this suggestion further, Hill explains “I am focusing on four cognitive contexts that I feel have strong but varied influences on curriculum in general and Te Whariki in particular; ages and stages, areas of play, family and school and the partnership inherent in the Treaty of Waitangi.” (23) The ensuing discussion is all interesting, but I want to pick out her discussion of the partnership:

“There is a fourth context I want to draw attention to,” she writes: ” this is the Treaty of Waitangi, ‘the partnership’ and the accompanying ‘bicultural’ stance expected of early childhood practitioners in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Significantly, Te Whariki itself purports to ‘reflect this partnership in text and structure’ (p.9). This context challenges and is challenged by the other suggested contexts. Te Reo Maori, Kaupapa Maori and Tikanga Maori do not sit easily alongside the western ‘ideological notions of ‘ages and stages’, and ‘areas of play’ and unquestioned views of family and school. A bicultural context has the potential to be comfortably aligned alongside the context of whanau/family and community. However, it is my view that cognitive shifts are required of practitioners for this alignment to be authentic…. My belief is that if the essence of Te Whariki (encapsulated in the principles and strands) is primarily linked with ‘ages and stages’, the ‘areas of play’ and uncritical notions of schooling, there is little cognitive space left within which to take a bicultural stance and enable children to experience the partnership. ” (25)

Ref: Diti Hill (2005) Curriculum: Challenges of context and complexity in early childhood settings. The First Years: Nga Tau Tuatahi. New Zealand Journal of Infant and Toddler Education, 7(1), 21-26

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in early years education, Mono- Bi- and Multi-culturalism, Teaching excellence and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Obstacles to the implementation of good ECE

  1. Pingback: References to support a review of Te Whariki | LiteracyNZ

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