Once the Cinderella of the education system, early years education has evolved into a much more substantially funded sector with staff experiencing greater opportunities for higher-level training and education as well as increasing demands. This book reflects practitioner debates about fundamental questions such as whether or not their field of work is a profession at all. Two key arguments are presented. The first is that early years education has matured to the point that pedagogical and regulatory frameworks have been introduced and linked to a terminology of professionalism. This has opened up a space for early years practitioners - as insiders of this historically undervalued sector - to question the nature of their practice. The questioning leads to the second argument: the need for a new future for early years education marked by a 'critical ecology' of the profession. This is a future in which educators maintain an attitude of critical enquiry in all aspects of their role, assessing the genuine needs of the sector, factoring in the different political and cultural milieux that influence it, and acting to transform it. In exploring the issues, this book begins by recording in detail the daily work of early years educators from six countries: Australia, England, Finland, Germany, New Zealand and Sweden. These case studies explore what it means to act professionally in a particular context; perceptions of what being a 'professional' in early childhood education means (including practitioners' self perceptions and external perspectives); and common features of practice in each context. It moves on to analyse the wider socio-political forces that affect this day-to-day practice and recommends that practitioners act as transformative agents informed by the political and social realities of their time.
Providing a unique and critical insight into some of the most significant issues affecting Early Years Policy, this book has chapters from leading authorities and researchers in the field and draws on current research, addresses key debates and considers international perspectives. Topics covered include: - policy making - poverty, disadvantage and social exclusion - promoting infant mental health - safeguarding and well-being - enhancing children's potential - parenting policies and skills - national strategies versus professional autonomy - the marketisation of early years provision - democracy as a fundamental value in Early Years Taking a critical perspective and written in an accessible style, the book is relevant to all levels of Early Years courses, from Foundation Degree to Masters. The reader is encouraged to engage with debates and to develop their own views and opinions. With staggered levels of Further Reading, the editors and contributors provide a rich source of material that encourages reflection and promotes progression. Linda Miller is Professor Emeritus of Early Years, The Open University. Denise Hevey is Professor of Early Years, The University of Northampton.
Academics, researchers, and trainers of early years practitioners provide a UK and Australian perspective on professionalism of the early years workforce. Many of the chapters openly contest policy reforms and public discourses in the field. The book begins with an overview of the growth of professionalism in the field over the last decade, then identifies some emerging themes, which are raised in subsequent chapters. The first part of the book is concerned with developing professional identities, with discussion of leaders and managers as change agents, networked leadership, and results of a 30-year research project following workers. The second part of the book reflects the emergence of new ways of thinking about professionalism; some areas examined are micro and macro level influences that shape professional identities, and the lack of men in the field. A final chapter re-examines the importance of the emotional aspects of working with young children and their families. Learning features include chapter overviews, summaries, discussion questions, and annotated lists of further reading and websites. Miller and Cable are affiliated with The Open University Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
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