Culture and Practice in Early Childhood Teacher Education: A Comparative and Qualitative Study

Early childhood Teacher Education

This study currently in progress focuses on two early childhood teacher education programs in contexts where the participants are undergoing rapid social and personal change: a program in Namibia, and a program for immigrant childcare educators in Canada. The objective is to provide in-depth understanding of the ways in which differing ideas about teacher education are reflected in practice. It is important to ensure that teacher education programs prepare teachers to dovetail children’s preparation for school with meaningful connections to the culture and language of the home community. Without such connections, many children in settings undergoing rapid change will continue to drop out of school before literacy and other skills are firmly established. The study uses ethnographic methods to undertake fieldwork in teacher education classrooms at the two research sites over a period of two terms. The central research question focuses on the way conceptions of young children’s preschool needs are played out in each setting. The data stems from analysis of early childhood care and education and teacher education curricula; policy and other documents; focused observations in teacher education classrooms and teaching practice; and interviews with teacher educators, education officers, teachers, parents, and community leaders. Preliminary data from the Canadian site begins to elucidate issues and strategies that are most likely to be effective for teacher education programs, with implications for teacher education in a range of settings in both the majority and minority worlds.