Presentation on theme: "Value Guided Practice in early childhood education: learning together about what counts. Gerry Mulhearn 17 th EECERA Conference Prague 2007."— Presentation transcript:
Value Guided Practice in early childhood education: learning together about what counts. Gerry Mulhearn 17 th EECERA Conference Prague 2007
The ethics of care and justice and the conference themes How can researchers and practitioners influence policy more effectively? using the lens of the ethics of care and justice to examine early childhood program design and practice.
Presentation Outline Research contexts and concepts A framework to examine the ethics of care and justice Methodology and content for the research Conclusions
The research and its contexts Doctor of education – joint work Dual roles as researcher and senior administrator The policy world Dilemmas What’s it got to do with Vygotsky?
Concepts How should we care and for whom? How can we act justly and ethically? Ethics: A system of morals, rules of behaviour, Concerned with human character and conduct (Cambridge Dictionary 1998) a concept of justice,(as) a democratic and open opportunity for discussion and more equal access to power. (Tronto p 157) Care as a species activity that includes everything we do to maintain, continue and repair our "world" so that we can live in it as well as possible. (Tronto p 103) care is both a practice and a disposition" (p 104)
A framework to examine the ethics of care and justice (Tronto) Caring about is the phase of recognizing the (correct) need and realizing that care is necessary: Attentiveness Taking care of is the phase which "involves assuming some responsibility for the identified need and determining how to respond to it." : Responsibility Care giving is the phase where the need is met: Competence Care receiving is the phase where "the object of care will respond to the care it receives”: Responsiveness Integrity of Care, requiring "that the four moral elements of care be integrated into an appropriate whole".
Using the framework to examine our work Project 1 Critical incidents Ethical flashpoints Project 2 Use of framework and methods from project 1 to develop critical text analysis of key policy documents that drive our work Project 3 Use of framework to examine the interactions between systemic policies, program development and local practice in relation to Learning Together
The Learning Together context an additional early learning strategy that will have a long- term impact on the improvement of learning outcomes especially for disadvantaged learners a research and development project located in five communities of socio-economic disadvantage Programs have developed differently according to local community desire and determination. All programs feature the dimensions of adult education and support, adult/child interaction and child engagement and learning. A strategy for longer term policy formation/service model development and resource allocation
Aims of Learning Together Improve early learning opportunities for children Assist parents to support their child’s early learning and development Support parents’ own learning and determination Strengthen communities through interagency collaboration and coordination in the provision of family focussed programs and services Promote and support positive relationships between families and early childhood services and schools
Research questions What does an ethic of care and justice (as described by Tronto) look like in relation to the Learning Together program? What are some of the key early childhood curriculum leadership issues in Learning Together? What are the effects of Learning Together on the key players ie those involved in delivering the program and those who are the recipients of the program? How are the original intentions of the program and its current operations perceived by the adults involved in the program? How are the roles of parents in the program perceived by managers and the parents themselves? How is the role of the manager in the program perceived by parents and the managers themselves?
Methodology Critical phenomenology phenomena - ethics, care and justice phenomenology - a determinate method of inquiry, (directed toward) attaining a rigorous and significant description of the world of every day human experience as it is lived and described by specific individuals in specific circumstances (Pollio et al 1997) The necessity of adopting a critical spirit is essential when following a traditional approach to phenomenology in that our manner of seeing the world and the assumptions we make must be called into question. (Barnacle, 2001)
Methodology Semi structured interviews with individual managers and parent users Focus groups Analysis against questions for each of Tronto’s elements Cross reference with program documentation and artefacts Meta-analysis with reference to projects 1 and 2
Tronto’s framework – one element for analysis Responsiveness How is the receiver responding? How does the object of care recognise the care it is receiving? To what degree does the object of the care respond? What are the situational aspects of responsiveness as indicated? Are there particular aspects of responsibility that evoke greater responsiveness?
Sample questions - managers Can you talk about curriculum leadership in relation to your role as a Learning Together manager? Whose needs are being met by Learning Together? How are your needs as a curriculum leader being met in relation to this program? Can you talk about any ethical dilemmas you have faced in running Learning Together? How do you think the other adult respond to your leadership in the program? What indicates this? How do adult participants respond to each other?
Sample questions - parents Whose needs are being met by Learning Together? Can you talk about leadership in relation to Learning Together? Who provides this and how is it provided? What does it look like? How are your needs as a parent being met in relation to this program? How are your needs as a learner being met at Learning Together? Can you talk about the concept of care and what it means to you? What does this look like in relation to your experiences in Learning Together?
Early Conclusions Lessons from the methods in relation to the framework Framework adds another dimension to program evaluation and development Conclusions about the ethics of care and justice in program design and practice Many dilemmas about expectations and tensions between the “tender “and the “tough”
A final word (at this point) It’s not about learning apart It’s about learning together
References Aubrey, C. (2000). Early Childhood Educational Research: Issues in Methodology and Ethics. London, Routledge Falmer. Barnacle, R. (ed) 2001, Phenomenology, Melbourne RMIT University Press Griffiths, M. (1998) Educational research for social justice: getting off the fence, Buckingham Open University Press MacNaughton, G., Rolfe, S., Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2001). Doing early childhood research: international perspectives on theory and practice. Sydney, Allen & Unwin Pollio, H., Henley, T., & Thimpson, C., (1997) The phenomenon of everyday life Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom Tronto, J. (1993) Moral boundaries: A political argument for an ethic of care, New York, Routledge Tripp, D. (1998) Critical incidents in action inquiry, in J.Smyth & G. Shacklock (Eds) Being reflexive in critical educational and social research, London: Falmer, pp36-49 Whiteman, P. et al (2007) Learning Together Research: Final Report, Newcastle, The Children and Education Research Centre, The University of Newcastle