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Early Childhood Studies

Parker-Rees, Rod and Leeson, Caroline (2015) Early Childhood Studies. 4 ed. London, Sage

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Abstract

Early Childhood Studies (ECS) occupies a particularly interesting boundary space among other areas of study. It has obvious links with Childhood Studies programmes, some of which may include opportunities to focus on early childhood, but it is more than just a sub-section of this broader area. What sets it apart is the breadth of its scope, including the areas addressed in Childhood Studies programmes, such as history, sociology, philosophy and the arts, but also addressing the practical knowledge required for working with young children and their families. Many ECS programmes are located in Education departments where they may sit alongside Initial Teacher Education programmes such as a BEd and PGCE Primary Education (Early Years) and Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) which focus on preparing students to take on a particular professional role and which confer a practice qualification, others sit in Social Science Departments alongside programmes in social work and health care. What is distinctive about ECS is that it provides rich opportunities for students to explore the border areas between thinking and doing, between examining how and why communities come to do things as they do and reflecting on how and why we do what we do when we actively engage with children and their families. The Childhood Studies elements of an ECS programme enrich our learning about the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of practical work with children by adding a focus on ‘why’ and the Early Childhood elements ground these wider reflections in the embodied and felt experience of engaging directly with other people and with our own responses.

This book has been written by members of the ECS team at Plymouth University, where we introduced an Early Childhood Studies degree in 2000. The first edition came out in 2004 and much has changed since then, both in the worlds and lives of young children and in the worlds and lives of students. Our thinking about the scope and purpose of our ECS degree has been informed by what we describe as a ‘core of care’, reflecting our aim of encouraging students to become passionate advocates for children, professionals who care about policies and processes as well as practitioners who are able to provide sensitive care for children. We also believe that studying for an ECS degree provides valuable opportunities for students to play an active role in extending the core of care beyond what they are learning and the way they are treated by tutors to include the way they support and encourage each other. Engaging with other students, working in groups, studying together and contributing to a learning community will require students to deal with disagreements, cope with clashes of personalities and notice when others may need a bit of care and encouragement. In several of the chapters in this book we have written about the benefits of difference, how children’s worlds and lives are enriched by opportunities to engage with different experiences, different ways of doing things, different people and different cultures. We believe that it is particularly important that people who will be working with young children and their families should develop a core of care which will enable them to engage respectfully with people who do not share their own background, experiences and assumptions. This core of care will also encompass a strong and principled ethical stance – engaging respectfully with people who hold different views does not mean agreeing with everything they say!

Item Type: Book
Status: Published
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
School/Department: School of Education
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/2244

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