Crossing borders and blurring boundaries:Early childhood practice in a non-western setting
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This paper examines the educational and epistemological implications for early childhood practitioners who work in non-Western environments. Predominantly, early childhood knowledge is strongly driven by the metanarrative of child development, which can prove problematic for practitioners working in non-Western settings. Practitioners who draw their knowledge from the strong Western tradition of developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) often find themselves ill equipped when placed in environments that do not embrace these principles. In these settings it is often necessary for practitioners to 'think otherwise' about early childhood practice if they are to enhance the development of the young children for whom they are responsible. The authors argue for a review of unconditional adherence to DAP in these situations, by using a case study of a student practicum in the Bachelor of Human Services: Child and Family Studies program. This practicum took place in Cambodia in 2001, where a third year student in her final placement was involved in planning programs for young children who were rescued from child trafficking in Thailand and placed in Cambodian reception centres. Poststucturalist theory provides a useful lens for analysing how fundamental 'truths', such as the metanarrative of child development, work to hinder the practice of early childhood practitioners in non-Western settings. The authors argue that by abandoning unconditional adherence to this metanarrative and adopting alternative constructions of childhood and practice, practitioners are more able to respond effectively to children in context. Implications for early childhood education and knowledge generation are presented.
International Journal of Early Childhood
© 2006 International Journal of Early Childhood. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.