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Critical pedagogy in early childhood education: Four case studies in Aotearoa New Zealand

Critical pedagogy provides a rigorous critical theory for teachers and children in early childhood education. This study seeks to answer two questions. Firstly, how might teachers enact critical pedagogy in an early childhood education setting, and secondly, how can critical pedagogy support the belonging and empowerment of young children. The critical inquiry framework in this study is framed by Paulo Freire (1970/2018). The study used an action research approach, and was undertaken as four case studies of teachers in the same kindergarten, with each teacher implementing a separate critical pedagogy inquiry. The findings of the study showed the possibilities that exist for children and teachers through a critical pedagogy approach. Using Freirean concepts, informed by bicultural practices and supported by early childhood approaches (such as working theories, wait time, and open-ended dialogue), teachers were able to successfully implement critical pedagogy inquiries. These inquiries also led to an expansion of children’s critical consciousness as they explored multiple perspectives. Praxis supported the empowerment of children as they worked with teachers to act on issues that were important to them. Belonging for children was also supported through opportunities to practise critical skills, negotiate challenges, solve problems, and collaborate for a common good. The study found that critical pedagogy was not only possible, but also valuable for children and teachers, supporting them to interrogate and transform the world around them.
Type of thesis
Kahuroa, R. D. E. (2021). Critical pedagogy in early childhood education: Four case studies in Aotearoa New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14527
The University of Waikato
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