Using Insights from Interactions Research to Improve Policy and Practice in Early Childhood Education
Gunn, Alexandra C.
The study of human development and learning in the West has broadened its focus across the twentieth century from a position that largely privileged the individual human subject as separated from the world and effected by its influences, to one where human subjectivity and the world are mutually constitutive; where experience is mediated by cultural tools; and through which over time, we can see the expansion of human learning and activity as interdependent (Bronfenbrenner and Ceci 1994; Rogoff 2003; Vygotsky 1978). It is no longer possible or desirable to view people as separate from culture and to ignore the reciprocal influences of people and culture. This is a major factor in why studies into interactions between children and their worlds are of growing interest to researchers, educators and policy makers alike. In the context of early childhood education in New Zealand for instance, we see this in the view of children as children increasingly capable of and competent to direct their own learning as they draw from and shape what happens in the early childhood service (Ministry of Education 2004/2009). Concurrently, formal learning theories have expanded across the late twentieth century to account more clearly for the ways interactions between people, places, and things within an education setting invite and sustain learning (for example, the shift from individual cognitive constructivism to social-constructivism, and social- situated views of learning and associated theories like for instance, community of practice, (Snyder and Wenger 2010)). From a sociocultural perspective learning experiences lead developmental growth and change; communication between people, in deliberately constructed places, with particular things is of paramount importance to learning. As educators in early childhood education have begun to take up these ideas with more vigour around the world, understanding interactions and the learning that comes from them grows in importance. Hence the critical need for research and scholarship into learning interactions and educational practice.
Editor: Gunn, Alexandra C.; Hruska, Claudia A.
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Research Type: Chapter in Book
Uncorrected, pre-publication proof.