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International Journal of Early Childhood

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 15–32 | Cite as

Preschool Educators’ Interactions with Children About Sustainable Development: Planned and Incidental Conversations

  • Alfredo Bautista
  • Ana Moreno-Núñez
  • Siew-Chin Ng
  • Rebecca Bull
Original Article

Abstract

While preschool educators are currently encouraged to educate young children in and for sustainable development, limited observational research has focused on documenting how sustainability notions are introduced or discussed in preschools. Drawing on a large database of videos of practice, this study describes typical features of conversations about sustainability in Singapore Kindergarten 1 classrooms (4–5 years). Four representative conversations (two planned, two incidental) are qualitatively analyzed to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of preschool educators’ pedagogical moves. The analyses indicate that while educators build upon children’s experiences and provide real-life examples, their interactional styles tend to be direct, prescriptive, and somewhat rigid. The study, therefore, raises awareness among early childhood practitioners about the need for more dialogic forms of interaction. Children need increased opportunities to have a voice in conversations about sustainability issues. Facilitating deeper discussions will require preschool educators to position themselves as co-constructors of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors for a more sustainable future, rather than as mere transmitters of information.

Keywords

Sustainable development Preschool educators Teacher–child interaction Classroom observation Dialogic teaching 

Résumé

Bien que les éducateurs du préscolaire soient présentement encouragés à éduquer les jeunes enfants au développement durable, peu d’études d’observation ont visé à documenter comment les notions de durabilité sont présentées ou discutées en maternelle. S’appuyant sur une vaste banque de données de vidéos de pratique, cette étude décrit des caractéristiques typiques de conversations sur le développement durable en maternelle 1 (4–5 ans) à Singapour. Quatre conversations représentatives (deux planifiées, deux fortuites) sont analysées qualitativement pour illustrer les forces et les faiblesses des gestes pédagogiques des éducateurs. Il s’en dégage que bien que les éducateurs s’appuient sur les expériences des enfants et donnent des exemples tirés de la vie réelle, le style de leurs interactions tend à être direct, prescriptif et quelque peu rigide. En conséquence, l’étude alerte les praticiens de la jeune enfance au besoin de développer des formes d’interaction plus dialogiques. Les enfants ont besoin d’avoir plus d’occasions d’avoir la parole dans les conversations sur les questions de développement durable. Favoriser des discussions plus profondes requiert des éducateurs de se positionner comme co-constructeurs du savoir, des attitudes et des comportements en vue d’un avenir durable, plutôt que de se voir comme de simples transmetteurs d’information.

Resumen

Actualmente se espera que los maestros de educación infantil comiencen a educar a los niños en y para un desarrollo sostenible. Sin embargo, existe poca investigación observacional centrada en documentar cómo las nociones relacionadas con la sostenibilidad son presentadas o discutidas en escuelas infantiles. Con base en una amplia colección de videos de práctica, este estudio describe las características típicas de las conversaciones sobre sostenibilidad en clases de Kindergarten 1 en Singapur (4–5 años). Cuatro conversaciones representativas (dos planeadas, dos incidentales) son analizadas cualitativamente para ilustrar los puntos fuertes y débiles en las estrategias pedagógicas de las educadoras participantes. Los análisis indican que, mientras que las educadoras construyen sobre las experiencias previas de los niños y ofrecen ejemplos cotidianos, su estilo de interacción tiende a ser directo, prescriptivo y relativamente rígido. El estudio, por tanto, pretende crear conciencia entre los profesionales de la educación infantil sobre la necesidad de formas de interacción más dialógica. Los niños necesitan crecientes oportunidades para expresar su propia voz en conversaciones sobre sostenibilidad. Facilitar conversaciones más profundas requerirá que los educadores infantiles se posicionen como co-constructores de conocimientos, actitudes, y comportamientos para un futuro más sostenible, en vez de como meros transmisores de información.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the Education Research Funding Programme, National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, project no. OER 09/14RB. The views expressed in this paper are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of NIE.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Research in Child Development, National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological University (Singapore)SingaporeSingapore

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