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'It's just a phase; they'll go back to Piaget' - a sociocultural study of six kindergarten practitioners' perceptions of the implementation of the EYLF
In 2009 a new national early childhood curriculum framework the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) came into force in Australia (DEEWR, 2009). This framework departs from the traditional developmental theories which have predominantly influenced early childhood education in Australia for many decades. The new framework proposes multiple theories such as poststructural, sociocultural, critical, developmental and behavioural theories to inform praxis in early childhood education.
Subsequent to the implementation of the new framework, there has been a growing sense of confusion among practitioners on how to best translate the national framework into practice, as this document encompasses a wide range of theories that were not previously emphasised in early childhood education. The literature reviewed indicates that there has been an ongoing debate among early childhood professionals and scholars regarding the relevance of two of the most prominent theories (developmental and sociocultural) in early childhood education in Australia and elsewhere. As such there is a need to understand how kindergarten practitioners are making sense and applying the theoretical underpinnings of the EYLF to their practice.
This sociocultural study utilises an interpretive approach and qualitative methods of semi-structured interviews to explore kindergarten practitioners' perceptions regarding the implementation of the new framework. It also applies Barbara Rogoff's three lenses of analysis (Rogoff, 2003) as an effective theoretical framework to comprehensively analyse the perspectives of participants which focus upon the relationships between their personal contexts (intrapersonal lens), their interactions with others (interpersonal lens) and their interactions with the wider community (institutional lens).
The findings of this study indicate that these practitioners feel a deep sense of confusion related to effectively understanding the underpinning theories of the EYLF (DEEWR, 2009) and how they translate to practice. It was also found that there is a resistance to change within the field as many practitioners, services and training facilities were reluctant to let go of their traditional approaches to teaching and learning, and embrace the more contemporary approaches of the new framework. The findings from this study suggest that there are inconsistencies in the field regarding the diverse interpretations and understandings of the EYLF, differences in the theoretical content and delivery of tertiary and university training, and the availability of quality support and professional development for practitioners.
Department/SchoolFaculty of Education