Cultural components of early childhood teacher education programmes: Reflection for lecturers
Early childhood teacher education programmes are offered by Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) where teaching-learning takes place between the student teachers and lecturers. Cultural components, in this study, are the references made from the culture by the student teachers and the lecturers, while implementing the teacher education curriculum. While there are a number of research projects related to diversity in early childhood education with regard to children, very few are from the perspective of teacher education. This study was intended to contribute to this gap. The research objectives were to discover the cultural components of early childhood teacher education programmes and to explore the impacts of these components on teaching and learning. Under a socio-cultural theoretical framework, twelve lecturers from three TEOs were interviewed. Three cohorts of student teachers from the same TEOs participated in focus groups. Using manual thematic coding, nine broad areas of cultural components were identified. These are bicultural contexts of Aotearoa, ethnicities and multi-culturalism, individual identities, cross-cultural interactions, comfort zone, female majority, socio-economic struggles, spirituality and technology. Student teachers reported feeling empowered when they shared components from their culture. Sharing of these components were found helpful for perception building. Lecturers acknowledged these components as they believed these contributed to their emotional and professional growth. The findings were applied to a Teaching as Inquiry model for developing a reusable reflection framework for the lecturers of early childhood teacher education.