首页 专家简介 专家著作 专家论文 学术交流 学前教育课程资源 专家推荐 交流论坛 博客 联系我们
Contemporary Trends and Developments in Early Childhood Education in China
2008-07-29        点击:4706

Several Developmental Tends in Early Childhood Education

The rapid development in the economy and in technology, as well as increasing integration into the world, has caused tremendous socio-cultural changes in China. These changes demand that educational ideology and practice match the future of modernization and globalization. In the process of changing both educational ideology and practice, China faces many fundamental issues concerning the development of early childhood education. Some of the developmental trends are as follows:

Developing Integrated Birth-to- 6 Care and Education

In recent years, there has been an increasing effort to integrate nurseries and kindergartens and form continuous care and education for children from birth to age 6. Historically, nurseries and kindergartens are separated and overseen by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, respectively. Nurseries focus on health and care, and their personnel are trained as “nurses” rather than educators. With the increasing consensus on the importance of education for infants and toddlers, the educational administration is gradually taking over responsibility for managing nurseries. The state advocates the establishment of a development index system to help parents and caregivers to “improve scientific care and education for young children” (Zhu, 2002a). More and more kindergartens have begun to enroll children as young as two- or three-years-old. Some kindergartens even help nurseries to improve their educational services to young children and their families. 

To achieve unified provision of care and education for children from birth to 6, the government established an ambitious goal for a system which is planned as a whole by government leaders, administered by state educational departments, and coordinated by other related departments; and which relies on the community and involves parents and various educational institutes. However, there are many barriers to these integration efforts. Two main issues are the separate administration and the lack of resources. The community, parents, and the administration at different levels will need to work together to achieve this goal. This integration effort, however, also provides new challenges for early childhood researchers. The long-standing focus on kindergarten children from ages 3 to 6 has resulted in a scarcity of studies of younger children’s development and care. The early childhood community needs to take on the challenge and devote more resources and effort to exploring models for the successful care and education of children from birth to 3 years of age. 

Pay more attention to early childhood education in rural and remote areas

China has a vast territory, many minority groups, and a wide range of economic development levels. Historically, rural and remote areas have lagged behind in their educational resources and educational quality. Since the enactment of the market economy and open-door policy in the early 1980s, the gap between these areas and developed areas has been widening. While the cities and towns along the east coast are enjoying the rapid spread of modern conveniences, some areas in the west and southwest are still dealing with hunger. In recent years, the government has been pushing for a Western-style, forward-looking economic reform aiming to jump-start economic development in these areas.

Early childhood education in backward areas has also received great attention. Due to the limited resources in these areas, the state and local governments concentrate on establishing pre-primary classes in local elementary schools. Built on the existing elementary education infrastructure, pre-primary classes are set up to provide full-day or half-day early education program for children in the year prior to first grade. This approach greatly expands much-needed early education in rural or remote areas. However, because the programs are put in elementary schools, the pedagogy and curriculum are often simply a lighter version of first grade. Although it helps prepare young children for elementary education, the practices of elementary education –long class sessions, rigid discipline requirements -- are often risky for young children’s development. These areas are in urgent need of teacher training, pedagogy, and curriculum that are tailored to pre-primary classes.

 Positive promotion of teachers’ professional development

It is acknowledged that teacher training is crucial to the success of curriculum reform. The current reform aims to modify curricula to enable them to be diversified and flexible enough to suit local and individual programs’ needs. However, many directors and many teachers of kindergartens who are used to the traditional subject-based curriculum and teacher-centered pedagogy have great difficulties in implementing the new curriculum and pedagogies. 

There are some fundamental problems in teacher training. First, students in early childhood education have relatively low academic qualifications. Although new programs require two-year or four-year college degrees, many in-service teachers have only the equivalent of a secondary education. Low academic training hinders teachers’ understanding and adoption of the new curriculum and pedagogies. Second, too much emphasis still tends to be placed on skills rather than on pedagogy in many early childhood teacher programs. Traditionally, students in early childhood normal schools spend most of their time improving or perfecting their art skills - drawing, singing, and dancing, which are deemed important skills for successful kindergarten teachers. Much less attention and effort have been put into pedagogy training. Although more and more programs are correcting this unbalanced focus, the continuing influence of the traditional view still affects teacher training. Third, there is too little classroom practice in teacher training, especially in four-year university programs. For example, some universities require only 8 to 10 weeks of student teaching in their four-year programs. A lack of experience in the classroom means that these future teachers are ill-prepared.  In addition, many faculty members in early childhood teacher programs do not have solid teaching experience in kindergarten. This greatly limits their ability to help their students to apply theories to their teaching practice. Finally, there is a severe lack of programs for training teachers for rural areas, which usually have a low quality of teacher to begin with due to scarce resources for local preschool teacher education, low pay and a harsh environment. In those areas, most kindergarten teachers have only high school diplomas or lower education. They hardly have a chance to obtain specialized professional training. The lack of support and professional development even causes an already distressing situation to deteriorate. All of these problems need to be dealt with urgently in order to improve the quality of teachers and eventually to improve early childhood education in China.

Government is beginning to pay more attention to teachers’ professional development. More money has been invested in teacher training and, the training programs put more emphasis on teachers’ practice such as teachers’ daily interaction with children rather than on theories.

 

Conclusion

Early childhood education in China has gone through a century-long development process and has made great progress. It plays an important role in Chinese society and in children’s development. Contemporary early childhood education is becoming diverse in its forms, funding sources, and educational approaches, and is aligning itself with the increasingly open and diversified society.  It is clear that early childhood education in China is strongly influenced by socio-cultural changes and conditions and reflects the hybrid of traditional, communist and western cultures. China will re-think what has happened in the past years and continue to promote reform in early childhood education.

 

 

References

Cazden, C. (1988)  Classroom discourse. Portsmouth, N.H.:Heinemann.

Li, H. (2002) Reforming the early childhood curriculum in Hong Kong (in Chinese). Hong Kong Journal of Early Childhood, 1(1) 44-49.

Li, H. & Li, P. (2003) Lessons from implanting Reggio Emilia and Montessori curriculum in China (in Chinese). Preschool Education, 9, 4-5.

Liang, Z. (Ed.) (1993) Developing early childhood education in Chinese communities (in Chinese).  Beijing: Beijing Normal University Press.

McClelland, D. (1961) The achieving society. Princeton: Van Nostrand.

Ministry of Education in Peoples Republic of China (2002)  National early childhood education bulletin (1990-2000). Retrieved January 15, 2004 from China Education and Research Network Web site:  http://www.edu.cn/20020326/3023507.shtml.

Spodek, B. (1998) Chinese kindergarten education and its reform. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 4, 31-50.

Tobin, J., Wu, D., & Davidson, D. (1989) Preschool in three cultures: Japan, China, and the United States. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Tobin, J.(2007) An Ethnographic Perspective on Quality in Early Childhood Education, in Zhu, J.(Ed.), Global perspectives on Early Childhood Education. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press.

Wang, J., & Mao, S. (1996) Culture and the kindergarten curriculum in the People’s Repulic of China. Early Child Development and Care, 123, 143-156

Wang, X. C., & Spodek, B. (2000) Early childhood education in China: A hybrid of traditional, communist, and western culture. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Atlanta, GA.

Zhu, J. (2001) Introduction and reflection on staff training in China. Paper presented at the International Conference on Teacher Education, Shanghai, China.

Zhu, J. (2002a) Early childhood care and education in P. R. China. Paper presented at 2002 KEDI-UNESCO Bangkok Joint Seminar and Study Tour on Early Childhood Care and Education. Seoul, Korea.

Zhu, J. (2002b) Early childhood curriculum reform in Shanghai kindergartens: Case studies. Keynote address at the OMEP/ICEC Asia Pacific Early Childhood Conference, Singapore.

Zhu, J. (2004) Reflection on the two-decade reform in early childhood curriculum in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Journal of Early Childhood, 3(2), 5–8.

ZhuJ. & Wang, X. C. (2005) Early Childhood Education and Research in China, in Spodek, B(Ed.),  International Perspectives on Research in Early Childhood Education Contemporary, Information Age Publishing.

 

责任编辑: admin
收藏本页 Email给朋友 打印本文
站内搜索
Copyright © 2004 -2015 朱家雄学前教育研究网 技术支持: Ezness.net