The Countermeasures and Strategies to Deal with the Problem of Early Childhood Teacher Education Nowadays in Mainland
The nature of non-compulsory education for young children in many areas places teachers in a low social and economical status. The preserve teacher education and in-service training present many problems. For example, regarding kindergartens in China, there are 721,609 full time kindergarten teachers，114,511 directors, making a total of 836,120. Among these teachers and directors, 51,219 people or 6.13% have bachelor degree and 359,773 people or 43.02% had 2 or 3-year college education. And yet, more than one half of these teachers and directors have no professional trainings. (Ministry of Education, 2005)
The main problems of current early childhood teacher education in
· Conflict between the traditional pre-service/in-service teacher education and the early childhood education reform.
· Unevenness in development: urban vs. rural area, developing vs. developed regions
· Disparity in resources and programming among teacher education programs at different levels
Early childhood teacher education programs in
Mobilizing available resources for early childhood teacher education to build a support network for pre-service and in-service development at various levels (state, local) and various types (within school and distance education).
Developing an effective mechanism for early childhood teacher education, this could support diverse, flexible and context-sensitive practice.
Prioritizing in-service professional development, and promoting teachers’ engagement in critically reflective activities that help to shape innovative and supportive environments for early childhood care and education.
The transformation and improvement of early childhood teacher education in
Establishing “bases for autonomous research programs” within early childhood education organizations and implementing “kindergarten-based professional development through examination of teachers’ actions”
“Helping teachers become researchers” has been a slogan in teacher professional development in the developed regions; The “kindergarten-based professional development through teachers’ examination of their own actions” is widely held as an effective approach to fostering teacher researchers.
“Helping teachers become researchers” – this strategy is not meant to make teachers act like professional researchers in the university, but help teachers to do research out of their own interests. It is a reflective examination of their own practices in their daily contexts. The “kindergarten-based professional development through examination of teachers’ actions” is aimed at supporting teachers in becoming action researchers as a way to foster professional growth. It rejects the notion that teachers should obtain objective and technical knowledge from outside their daily environment, but it encourages them to conducting research in their practice, and practise while conducting research. Teachers can reflect on, and improve, their practice through studying their own experiences in the professional settings. Such research facilitates teachers’ understandings of themselves and their professional activities. As a new paradigm for teacher development, it requires teachers to make sense of their own teaching experiences and contexts. It is recommended that teachers frequently reflect on their professional life, constantly explore their contexts, and make effective decisions for their curriculum needs and implementation. As mentioned earlier, this paradigm for teachers’ professional development respects teachers as decision makers who don’t always have clear solutions to any educational problems. They will plan and act with great uncertainty, multiple possibilities, and a variety of choices in their awareness and decision-making processes. In their educational practice, the complexity and uncertainty foster their ability to deal with continuous and frequent change.
“Kindergarten-based training” is a process of group professional development in an evolving context. In this sense, creating and sustaining a teacher group collaboration are essential to effective professional development. The mechanism for teachers to co-construct their meanings and collaborate in the research is the “discourse” process. Each participant in the discourse can understand and share their ideas and thought process with one another. They can value, tolerate, inspire, counter and interact with each other’s ideas. The converging point of different perspectives may eventually improve teachers’ professional ideas.
To amplify the significance of “kindergarten-based training,” the members of this teachers’ research community get together to reflect on their experiences and research. In doing so, they record their reflections and discussion through narrative, resulting in what is called “documentation” that summarizes and generalizes their practice. A valuable documentation is practically a research report that demonstrates the events and processes in teaching. It captures the teaching and learning in the classroom, and delves into different factors that have entered the educational and teaching processes. And it allows those who were described in the documentation to think back and further about “how to make their teaching meaningful;” it inspires and enlightens those who are merely audiences and outsiders to the classroom. For years, the kindergarten-based training has unfolded in many parts of
Professional development for rural teachers through distance education and other means.
In comparison with urban areas, teacher education in rural areas are in desperate needs of more resources and professional development opportunities are scanty. In order to alleviate this situation, some rural governments already set aside funds to purchase distance education service and other means for providing professional development and improving the quality of rural early childhood teachers. Some education agencies assume the responsibility for providing such services. This kind of professional development sometimes is carried out in a large scale.
For example, the
· It is a parallel effort to the curriculum reform in the early childhood education in
· It presents concrete cases in curriculum and it focuses on a special topic at a time. The goal is to help teachers solve real problems in teacher education and teaching practice—starting from teaching and returning to teaching.
· It highlights the theory-practice connection, offers easy-to-use interpretations for practitioners, and provides cases for teachers to examine.
· It provides teachers with full freedom to choose a curriculum.
Creating resources for curriculum development of which teachers can make full use
The rural government makes purchase of commercially available service for early childhood teacher education. This provision gives teachers accessible multi-dimensional curriculum resources and encourages them to apply to their own teaching. Consequently the quality of the curriculum improves with enhanced flexibility and reduced workload. Such curriculum resources the following features:
· Curriculum resources are of high quality for moral education in pursue of truth, good and beauty.
· Curriculum resources are of multi-dimensional, including books, the Internet, multimedia.
· Curriculum resources are of easy access and easy use.
In conclusion, early childhood teacher education is crucial to the success of early childhood education reform which aims to modify curricula to be diversified and flexible to suit local and individual programs’ needs (Zhu & Wang, 2005) .
Fang Cai（2005）：2005 Yearbook of
Zhu, J. (2001). Introduction and reflection on staff training in Chin. Paper presented at the International Conference on Teacher Education,
Zhu, J. (2002), Early childhood care and education in P.R. of China, 2002 KEDI-UNESCO Bangkok Joint Seminar and Study Tour on Early Childhood Care and Education, Korean Educational Development Institute Press.
Zhu, J. (2004), Reflection on the two-decade reform in early childhood curriculum in Mainland
Zhu, J. & Wang, X. C. (2005), Contemporary Early Childhood Education and Research in