The work of teaching : understanding teacher development of kindergarten teachers in Hong Kong
2014-12-15T10:43:49Z (GMT) by
In the child-centred approach, which is an integral part of early childhood education, child development is facilitated through interaction with the social and physical environment. Kindergarten teachers in Hong Kong have been criticized for not incorporating this perspective into their practice. This failure is often justified by the pressure of external constraints such as the demands of the academic curriculum, parents' expectation of success and the emphasis on discipline within the Chinese culture. The aim of this study was to explore the extent to which such constraints were affected by the stage of a teachers' professional development. The classroom practice of nine Hong Kong kindergarten teachers was analyzed and post lesson interviews were carried out. These nine case studies attempted to identify the various coupling strategies used by analyzing the curriculum management, pupil-teacher interaction and classroom management procedures operating inside each classroom. The data suggested that the professional development of all nine teachers was limited by their inability to extend their thinking beyond their own personal concerns so that the needs of the children were not the major determinant of their classroom practice. Instead, external constraints dominated the teachers' thinking. All the teachers were competent in time management but appeared to lack awareness of the conditions necessary to teach 'for understanding' rather than for 'knowledge acquisition'. Various ways of bringing about a transformation in teachers' thinking to improve the quality of the children's learning experience are considered. It is argued that to confront and modify the teachers' personal beliefs cognitive dissonance must be induced as a first step in this process of re-orientation. The presence of suitable role models during training is also essential. The relative merits of 'action research' and joint collaborative activity with experts (in the form of 'assisted performance' or 'apprenticeship') are also discussed.