The way forward – Strengthening the advocate-activist early childhood profession and teachers’ professional identities
Kamenarac, O. (2018). The way forward – Strengthening the advocate-activist early childhood profession and teachers’ professional identities. Presented at the NZARE Conference 2018 Conference Theme: Shaping our Future – Celebrating transformative educational research, policy, and pedagogies that foster the wellbeing of people and planet., AUT South Campus, Manukau, Auckland, New Zealand.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13338
The New Zealand early childhood education and care (ECEC) has been torn between tensions created through an interplay of opposing discursive windows. Discursive windows of enterprise, economic investment and vulnerability have promoted competition, individualism, entrepreneurship and social-intervention emphases in the sector. On the other hand, discourses of collectivism, collegiality, and empowerment, reinforcing democratic education and democratic professionalism, have been frequently overpowered. Through a struggle to resolve ongoing tensions among the confronting and yet simultaneously coexisting discourses in ECEC policies and practices, early childhood teachers constantly reinvent their professional selves and transform their teaching practices. This paper draws on my doctoral study investigating how teachers’ professional identities have been re-constructed in response to shifting discourses in ECEC policies and practices in Aotearoa New Zealand. By sharing an analysis of some key ECEC policy documents over the last two decades, and collective and individual interviews with teachers, professional leaders and managers from both community-owned and for-profit services, I exemplify how opposing political interests and priorities have created a space for multiple and yet confronting constructions of teachers’ identities. I argue that straightening of the advocate-activist early childhood profession and teachers’ professional identities is the necessity and the priority for bringing in a much needed paradigm shift in the contemporary context of ECEC, in which teachers are forced to favour enterprise interests over well-being of children, families and community. Keywords: teachers’ professional identities, democratic professionalism, advocacy
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