Ethics Politics Professionalism ECEC


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Presentation RECE conference, London, October 2011

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Ethics Politics Professionalism ECEC

  1. 1. Longing for future:Ethics, politics and professionalism in ECE RECE International Conference London, 29th October 2011
  2. 2. Organisation of the presentation:● Description of the study → PhD research investigating the issue of ECE professionalism carried out at Bologna University● Discussion of findings → teachers perspectives on their professionalism will be analysed and related to current policy developments● Possible implications for practices: the experience of self-organised teachers’ workshops (F.R.A.M.E.)
  3. 3. Background Information Split System Bologna province, Emilia Romagna (Italy)● Nido (nest) Ages 0-3, under the Ministry of Welfare → children’s attendance over 10% nationally● Scuola dell’infanzia (Preschool/Kindergarde n) Ages 3-6, under the Ministry of Education → children’s attendance over 96% nationally
  4. 4. Background information (contd)●State scuole dell’infanzia (approx. 46% of Bologna ECEC institutions) - instituted in 1968 (‘enrolment is optional, attendance is free’) - managed by school directors who are responsible for a small number ofpre- and primary schools●Municipal scuole dell’infanzia (approx. 27% of Bologna ECEC inst.) - initially developed by self-organised groups of parents and civiccommittees in the 1960’s (reclaiming rights, social justice) - then moved under the mananagement of municipalities that ensuredeconomical and cultural growth of institutions - elaboration of a system of pedagogical coordination (pedagogista)●Private faith scuole materne (approx. 26% of Bologna ECEC inst.) - run by statutory bodies (parishes, religious orders, cooperatives..) - attedance fees but partly publicly subsidised
  5. 5. Scuole dell’infanzia in Bologna province… State scuole dell’infanziaMunicipalscuoledell’infanzia Private faith scuole materne
  6. 6. The study: aim and methodology● Investigating ECE professionalism as a multileveland multifaceted phenomenon situated in socio-cultural context● 60 teachers working in state, municipal and private(catholic) scuole dell’infanzia took part to focusgroups● Hermeneutic phenomenography:Teachers’ perceptions on their everyday work wereanalysed by taking into account the social, cultural,historical dimensions in which they are embeddedand which shaped them over time (Uljens, 1996)
  7. 7. Discussion of findings From the analysis of teachers’ statementsemerged that ECE professionalism could bedescribed through the reciprocal integration ofseveral dimensions: - pedagogy - professional competence - relationships
  8. 8. Pedagogy Broad principles that allow teachers’ to create acommon understanding around their practices: - children are active agents whose needs have to becarefully understood in order to develop educationalpaths (Vygotskij, 1962; Canevaro,Lippi & Zanelli, 1986;Pontecorvo, 1991) - to understand and address children’s needs it isnecessary to focus attention on their life environment:school community, family and wider society(Bronfenbrenner,1979) Early childhood professionalism is characterised by an ethical commitment that has social implications
  9. 9. ‘[I think my professionalism is characterised in particular by]welcoming children, parents and colleagues to compensatethe feelings of emptiness created by society nowadays.This could be explained through a circumstance thathappened a few years ago in our school, when animmigrant family that lived in conditions of socialdisadvantage asked me and my colleagues whether itwould have been possible to celebrate the birth of theirsecond child with us at school, children and teacherstogether, as they perceived us as their “second home”.Behind our approval, that was shared among all of us[referring to the teachers’ team], there was the intention ofmaking them feel welcome.’ (BO.07.01)
  10. 10. Professional competenceProfessionalism as a constantly evolvinglearning process:● Openness toward new experiences/challenges● Attitude of questioning > constantly re-defining thoughts and understandings through critical reflection on practices● Using methodological tools (observing, planning, elaborating didactic strategies…)Early childhood professionalism is grounded inexperimental practices producing new pedagogicalknowledge
  11. 11. ‘My professionalism is characterised by a constant will to do and know…I am always open to be challenged and to ask questions for having a better understanding and for learning.’ (BO.12.01) ‘[I think my professionalism is characterised in particular by] the will to keep an open-minded mentality, grounded in study and research, and being aware of the fact that it is not possible to achieve a stage in which you know everything’ (FIBO.09.01) ‘In the process of dealing with uncertain situations I have always a firm stand-point: that is the necessity to listen to the children. By listening to children I mean observing children during moments such as free-play and meals for example; I think it is necessary first of all to take time to understand what are the needs of the children then reflecting and acting.’ (STBO.15.01)
  12. 12. RelationshipsThe relational dimension seems to be substantially contributing to the process of professionalising – or rather de-professionalising – teachers’ work within ECE institutions. Collegiality as a dimension that enhances teachers’ professionalism by: considering the diversity among team members as a resource to be shared within the group valuing each member’s contribution on the basis of mutual recognition among colleagues (professional equality) overcoming a privatistic conception of teaching and moving toward an idea of education as shared responsibility sustaining collective reflexivity through an open dialogue that encompasses disagreement as a potential opportunity for transformative changeCollegial work as a source of professionalisation
  13. 13. ‘Democratically exchanging ideas with colleagues is very important as the team supports you both in carrying out routine work and in taking important decisions. For example, in facing difficult situations in my class, I know I am not alone: [I know that] by exchanging ideas and having dialogue with colleagues we can find together a solution which might be right.’ (BO.09.01)‘I feel well working in this school because if problems arise we talk about them. Finding an agreement within the team surely enhances professionalism of each member…in this sense also dissensus can be positive…’ (ST.CM.14)‘Each teacher is different, each teacher has her own personality: although there should be a commonality of principles and guidelines [within the teachers’ team], everyone should be free to express her own personal qualities…I think a new colleague – as each of us – brings with her something positive that I can learn from…’(FI.BO.5)
  14. 14. Conceptualisations underpinning the discourse of professionalism in ECE Managerial practice Ethical practice > Delivering pre-determined outcomes: ‘Care as a practice […] requires a ‘learning of fundamental behaviours and initialdeep and thoughtful knowledge of knowlege which are useful for acquiringthe situation, and of all of the actors’ competences later on’ (AdI, 2009)situations, needs and competencies. > Rationalising human and financialTo use the care ethic requires a resources: ‘in order to qualify school servicesknowledge of the context of the care and to fully valorise teachers’ professionalism, […] measures aimed at gradually increasingprocess. Those who engage in a care the pupils/teacher ratio are implemented.’process must make judgments: > Increased governmental control reducingjudgments about needs, […] autonomy of school institutions in choosingstrategies for achieving ends, the flexible forms of didactic organisation (eg.responsiveness of care-receivers, teachers’ co-presence) that allowand so forth. [...]These kinds of experimentation: ‘School directors involved injudgements […]require an the process of rationalisation have to ensure itsassessment of needs in a social and punctual and complete realisation. In the casespolitical, as well as personal, in which the predetermined objectives are not achieved they are liable to the application ofcontext.’ contractual measures connected to their(Tronto, 1993, pp. 136 – 137) executive responsibility.’ (Law 133/2008)
  15. 15. A starting point instead of a conclusion…● Re-affirming ECE professionalism as a ethical practice in order to contest the managerial steering of educational policies through collaborative research projects (involving teachers and researchers together)● Reconceptualising professional development as a space of resistance in which collective actions can contrast the authoritarian logic imposed by educational policies
  16. 16. Arianna LazzariDipartimento di Scienze dell’Educazione