A praxeological inquiry: Early childhood educators gaining confidence with unfamiliar policy discourse.

Year: 2016

Author: Kilderry, Anna, Nolan, Andrea, Scott, Caroline

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

It has been seven years since the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) (DEEWR 2009) was introduced in Australia and four years since the National Quality Standard (NQF) (ACECQA 2012) was implemented. To gain insight into how educators were understanding practice in the Australian early childhood education and care context the recent study reported in this presentation draws on a praxeological frame where educators have the opportunity to inquire and critically reflect on practice in a supported research environment. The praxeological framing for the study draws on the work of Pascal and Bertram where the research is committed to an ‘intensively participatory’ approach that encourages respectful, ethical and democratic relations to be formed throughout the duration of the study. The findings reported on in this paper examine how early childhood teachers engage with new concepts stemming from the EYLF and the NQS in practice. Five early childhood educators (four qualified teachers and one Diploma level qualified educator) working at the preschool (children aged 4-5 years) level in a regional area close to Melbourne were invited to participate in the study. Participants attended four half-day reflective practice workshops over one school term (11 weeks). Data were analysed using critical discourse analysis, enabling a close examination of participant discourse. Findings reveal that educators were confident when describing practice using familiar educational discourse; whereas educators were apprehensive when confronted with unfamiliar policy discourse. The third finding illustrates the ways educators gain confidence with unfamiliar policy discourse. The study’s findings add to limited empirical evidence about how early childhood educators understand key concepts introduced by the EYLF and NQS.