Educator perceptions of early learning environments as places and spaces for privileging social justice in rural areas

Presentation


Christopher, Vicki, Turner, Michelle and Green, Nicole. 2019. "Educator perceptions of early learning environments as places and spaces for privileging social justice in rural areas." Annual International Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2019 (AARE 2019). Brisbane, Australia 04 Dec 2019
Paper/Presentation Title

Educator perceptions of early learning environments as places and spaces for privileging social justice in rural areas

Presentation TypePresentation
AuthorsChristopher, Vicki (Author), Turner, Michelle (Author) and Green, Nicole (Author)
Year2019
Conference/EventAnnual International Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2019 (AARE 2019)
Event Details
Annual International Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2019 (AARE 2019)
Event Date
04 Dec 2019
Event Location
Brisbane, Australia
Abstract

The changing Australian context demands considerations of the critical influence of social justice within early childhood education. With multiple meanings attached to the term, varied understandings of what social justice is as a concept – and as a practice – exist. Early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Australia has long been associated with the concept of social justice, with historic foundations of ECEC existing within moral and philanthropic dimensions. While for many EC educators, notions of social justice remain central to their practice, a clear understanding of what this looks like is not clear.

The transformative influence of early childhood education is well established in the early childhood field – and beyond. These clear links between ECEC and its long-term outcomes, place a significant role in nurturing children’s development of positive identity and a sense of belonging. It is within the early years that children develop dispositions, which help determine their views of self and of others. By cultivating learning environments that promote social justice, early childhood educators are in a privileged position of empowering children to be informed; to promote social justice; and to advocate dignity for all.

Gaining a sophisticated understanding of early childhood educators’ perceptions of social justice, and their role in providing education for a socially just world, is necessary. A preliminary search of the literature for this pilot study reveals that empirical research in this area is scant. The research is important in bringing pedagogical conversations to the forefront regarding EC educator’s perceptions of their role in creating a socially just learning environment – and therefore educating for a socially just world. The study employed an interpretive qualitative method for data collection, analysis and interpretation of early childhood educators’ perspectives and reflections. Data collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews uncovered the perceptions of five early childhood educators working in rural settings in South West Queensland identified as experiencing significant growth in population diversity. The researchers carried out multiple layers of thematic analysis and interpretation of the interview transcripts to create rich narratives.

Findings of the research will be outlined in the presentation, as well as an evaluation of the pilot study design in determining the feasibility for a full-scale research project to further investigate how early childhood educators working in rural settings, perceive early learning environments as places and spaces for social justice.

Keywordsearly childhood education and care (ECEC), early childhood educators, social justice, socially just learning environments, Australia
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390302. Early childhood education
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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