Key Attitudinal Competences for Early Childhood Practitioners: Exploring European Approaches to Teaching and Learning
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The European Key Competences for Lifelong Learning provide a European-level reference tool for education providers, including Higher Education institutions, to focus national- and European-level efforts to support students towards personal fulfillment, social inclusion, active citizenship and employability in a knowledge-based society. The European Lifelong Learning Programme defines competences as:
“a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the context” (European Commission, 2007: 3).
Whilst not wishing to undermine the importance of knowledge and skills, we are interested in how to develop attitudes for the particular context of early childhood practice. Within Europe there is a complex array of terminology for those undertaking early childhood courses (kindergarten teachers, pre-school teachers, play workers, early years professionals, early childhood pedagogues), but here we will refer to early childhood practitioners. The breadth of terms also reflects the different disciplines where early childhood practitioners might find themselves working (education, social work, social care, childcare), demonstrating that this project crosses disciplinary boundaries.
Higher Education (HE) institutions are involved in delivering courses to develop the early childhood practitioners of the future and research (Moyles, 2001; Fleer, 2003; Osgood, 2004; Brock, 2006) and our own collaborative ventures with European partners (including organising an international conference and publishing an edited book) have suggested commonalities in the sort of values and attitudes to be promoted in early childhood practitioners (see DfES, 2005 and CoRe, 2011) but have also have raised questions about how HE institutions go about doing this.
This project therefore seeks to establish What are the key attitudinal competences that HE lecturers and students would advocate for early years practitioners? - Is there commonality when looking at four European countries? How do HE institutions look to develop these key attitudinal competences in their students? - Is there commonality in approach (considering curricula content, time spent studying and practical training) when comparing across four European HE institutions? - What good practice can be identified for sharing?
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