Juncture. A framework of professionalism between Early Childhood and School Teachers

Author: Anne McLeod

McLeod, Anne, 2021 Juncture. A framework of professionalism between Early Childhood and School Teachers, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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The terms “professionalism” and “profession” render a specific image of a person, income level, and standing within a community. Given the significance of education in models of economic, political, and social development, it was timely to research the professionalism of Early Childhood Teachers, focusing on the rights of all children to be educated within a context of professionalism, curriculum, equity, and policy. The status of Teachers in Early Childhood settings, when compared to Schools, is conflicting, with respect to payment, professional development, societal role, and career trajectory.

My original contribution to knowledge is the utilisation of Terry Johnson’s (1972c, p. 49) three tropes of professionalisation on the history and trajectory of Early Childhood Teachers in Australia. Johnson’s findings are aligned to Guy Standing (2011a) and Anthony Giddens’ (Giddens, 2013) theorisation of the precariat and the impact of supposedly “progressive” developments in education. Connecting these three theorists and noting the innovation of returning Terry Johnson’s models to 21st century education, offers a distinctive trajectory for professionalism in Early Childhood education.

Throughout this study, unobtrusive research methods have been deployed to discover, interpret, and manage the multiple ideologies and interfaces of information influencing those working in Early Childhood. This decision to deploy non-reactive research methods has enabled a focus on educational philosophy as it is shaped and textured by the historical context. The priority is to probe this “juncture” and evaluate the spin of ideologies that impact the professionalisation of Early Childhood Teachers.

This doctoral study has returned “old theory” to “new times.” Johnson’s three tropes enabled the researcher to articulate the impact that specific ideologies have on the policy environment encircling the teaching profession. During this research, a clear articulation, identification and application of equality and equity were demonstrated. Furthermore, the commitment to equity for all professionals employed in teaching children, was revealed.

Understanding the diversity and impact of the roles and responsibilities of Educators and Early Childhood Teachers was a clear outcome of this research. Similarly, the research demonstrated the undeniable connection of School Teachers with Early Childhood Teachers. Moreover, the need for a rigorous, integrated and considered understanding of “the profession”, deploying Johnson’s model, re-evaluated the curriculum expectation and delivery within university-level education degrees.

Lastly, the significance of this research was to demonstrate the power of granting both School and Early Childhood Education a history and theorising beyond the tight parameters of the current education parameters. Furthermore, given the time this study was undertaken the economic, physical, and political climate, the changes that have already occurred in teaching and learning have been enormous and the changes seen through COVID-19 are likely to continue. Therefore, this study was undertaken at a time whilst the teaching profession was at a formative juncture. By summoning Johnson’s theories, a new lens for this key moment has been provided.

Keywords: Professionalism, Early Childhood Teachers, School Teachers, Currciulum, Equity, Precariat

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2021
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Professor Tara Brabazon