Nacbcs national conference 14 15 july 2006 our children our community
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NACBCS National Conference 14-15 July 2006 Our children - our community. Excluded, invisible, tolerated or embraced: Cultural diversity in early childhood services. Karina Davis. Cultural diversity and ‘multiculturalism’. National and political debates

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Nacbcs national conference 14 15 july 2006 our children our community

NACBCS National Conference 14-15 July 2006Our children - our community

Excluded, invisible, tolerated or

embraced: Cultural diversity in early

childhood services.

Karina Davis


Cultural diversity and multiculturalism

Cultural diversity and ‘multiculturalism’

  • National and political debates

  • Benefits of multiculturalism being re-articulated

  • Affects early childhood services in a number of ways


Early childhood and cultural diversity

Early childhood and cultural diversity

  • Ensuring equitable access

  • Early childhood services embracing diverse identities and cultural backgrounds

  • Belonging and safety


Early childhood and responses to issues surrounding cultural diversity

Early childhood and responses to issues surrounding cultural diversity

  • Need to support and embrace ‘others’ while

  • Subverting dominance and superiority from cultural majority


Cultural diversity within early childhood

Cultural diversity within early childhood

  • Positioned in a number of ways

    • Excluded

    • Invisible

    • Tolerated and tokenistic

    • Embraced


Excluded

Excluded

Karina: “Can I ask you which of these dolls looks most like your friend?”

Spot: “That one.”

Karina: “Franca. Franca does?”

Spot : “Yes.”

Karina: “And what about Franca looks like your friend?”

Spot: “… ahh. …Because, ‘cause I think she’s the prettiest.”

Karina: “You think Franca’s the prettiest? What about Franca that makes her look pretty? I’d like to know. ”

Spot: “Ahh, because she has white socks and I like white and she has blue jeans and I like blue and she has a green top and I like green. And she has, and she has white skin and I like white skin. And I like her hair.”


Excluded1

Excluded

  • Taylor (2005)

  • Hakim requested to join their digging game, but Sam and George shook their heads and turned their backs on him. Hakim crossed over the garden trough border in an attempt to get closer to them and establish eye contact. He asked them again. Once more he was refused and this time told to go away and to get out of their garden. Hakim became noticeably distressed and complained that they will never let him play with them. By way of explanation, he pointed to the exposed skin on his arm, saying that they would not play with him because he is brown.


Exclusion and young children

Exclusion and young children

  • Young children directly exclude and deny access to others

  • This exclusion is often based around cultural identities and diversity

  • Children use sophisticated understandings of race and culture in shaping exclusions


Young children and exclusion

Young children and exclusion

  • …well we’re seeing with the under threes…we’ve got three dolls, an Asian doll, an Aboriginal doll and an Anglo-Saxon doll and there’s one child in the group who will always go for the Anglo-Saxon doll. And even when I’ve taken it away…she’s gone to get it and it hasn’t been there and she’s just thrown the other two out of the cot and walked out. Then I’ve brought it back in and she’s gone and got it and brought it back into her play…so I think they do absorb more than what we believe, more than developmentally what we believed they did…


Early childhood knowledge and exclusion

Early childhood knowledge and exclusion

  • ‘Traditional’ early childhood knowledge based on research of minority world children

  • This knowledge universalised and normalised


Nacbcs national conference 14 15 july 2006 our children our community

  • Important ‘other’ knowledge is excluded

    • About how we each ‘know’ children

    • Understandings of roles within children’s lives – families, parents, educators.


For example

For example

  • ‘Children, play and development’ (Hughes, p.94)

  • ‘The years from two to five are characterised by a decrease in rigidity and stubbornness, by increasing degrees of stability, reliability and predictability and by a move from primarily large muscle play to that involving small muscle activities. Sensory exploration during play is on the decline, and increases occur in play that is social and reflects children’s interests in and identification with adults. Between the ages of two and five, children move from solitary to onlooker play to parallel play, and then to associative and cooperative forms of play…’


Play an early childhood tenet

Play an early childhood tenet?

  • Exclusion of other knowledge mirrored in many early childhood texts that work to universalise one way of knowing

  • Play – a social and cultural construct

  • Who plays, what with, how this looks changes and alters across and within cultures


Reflections on knowledge as exclusion

Reflections on knowledge as exclusion…

  • Do all children work within clearly defined categories – whose categories?

  • Who gets to decide this?

  • How are diverse knowledges of children excluded from discourses of play?

  • How does wealth and poverty play into understandings and expectations of play?


Nacbcs national conference 14 15 july 2006 our children our community

  • With who has research been done?

  • Whose voices and experiences are excluded from consideration?


Exclusion in policy

Exclusion in policy

  • QIAS

    • Underpinned by developmentalism

    • Quality Areas 3 and 4 – importance of play

    • Principle 1.2

      • What do staff know about child development and how it impacts upon children’s behaviour and their ability to self-regulate?


Exclusion in regulations

Exclusion in regulations

  • Victoria

  • Tasmania


Questions

Questions…

  • Who is excluded and silenced?

  • How do we create communities when many culturally diverse communities are silenced within the structures of early childhood services?

  • How do we structure possibilities for inclusion of diverse voices of colleagues, families and children and what are the effects of this?


Invisible

Invisible

  • Colourblind

    • Don’t see colour and cultural differences AND

    • Differences not important

    • Exploration of how cultural differences structure lives inequitably is overlooked and ignored.


Invisible1

Invisible

And he (child) said

‘Yes, well he’s got dark skin like William.’

And then (another) boy…said…to me

‘Do you think its rude?’

And I (educator) said

‘I don’t, I don’t think it matters what colour your skin is.’


Invisible2

Invisible

  • Does not challenge racism and prejudice

    • Young children not challenged about exclusion

    • Young children struggle to belong

    • Young children allowed to maintain sense of dominance


Child initiated emergent curriculum

Child initiated/emergent curriculum

  • Ensures inclusion and content dominated by topics and interests adult observes as important to child

  • This observation linked to developmental understandings of child


Child initiated emergent curriculum1

Child initiated/emergent curriculum

  • Problematic

    • Adult observation not neutral and influenced by own world-views and experiences

    • Observation linked to developmental domains/areas

    • This then used to construct curriculum and plan ‘activities’ around these domains


Child initiated emergent curriculum2

Child initiated/emergent curriculum

  • Little space for including discussions and critiques about cultural diversity and monoculturalism

  • Children monitored and observed against white developmental norms

  • Other ways of understanding children made invisible within this

  • Group dynamics also made invisible


Nacbcs national conference 14 15 july 2006 our children our community

E.g.

…when the children talk about things that they might see…they make comments about the colour of skin and stuff like that, and then I just talk about it…Yes and I answer the children’s questions as we go, but I don’t actually have an emphasis or a focus on it.


Nacbcs national conference 14 15 july 2006 our children our community

E.g.

…with tables of interest, and its normally done on children’s interests and where that is going, so I guess there’s never been an interest by the children.


Choice

Choice

  • Perception that early childhood educators have a choice in engaging in cultural diversity makes cultural diversity further invisible as it can be overlooked


Choice1

Choice

No, we haven’t actively planned, we actually want to get a performer in, but we are struggling a little how to go about that. So we have done the classic, we haven’t done anything about it.

Oh we did a dance once, a male worker, but I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing or insulting, so I stopped. Because I didn’t know what to do…I don’t know how to do it and I don’t want to do it wrong.


Policy making cultural diversity invisible

Policy making cultural diversity invisible

  • NSW Regulations

    All children should be ‘treated without bias regardless of ability, gender, religion, culture…’

  • QIAS – Principle 1.5

    Staff respect children as individuals and provide opportunities for each child to access all learning experiences…


Questions1

Questions…

  • How can we work to recognise the structural and procedural effects of discrimination around cultural diversity in early childhood?

  • How can we work to avoid a colourblind stance in our responses to cultural diversity?

  • How might we begin to build curricula models that work to see multiple ways of working with children and that challenges the dominant view of child-initiated curricula as a quality model?


Tolerated and tokenistic

Tolerated and tokenistic

  • Minimal gestures of inclusion

  • One-dimensional representations

  • Stereotypes

  • Limited explorations of ‘traditional’ cultural aspects


Tolerated and tokenistic1

Tolerated and tokenistic

  • Problems

    • Children gain limited understandings

    • Cultural diversity presented as stereotypes, i.e. festivals, food, clothing

    • Dominant cultural backgrounds undiscussed and presented as ‘norm’


Nacbcs national conference 14 15 july 2006 our children our community

E.g.

…we looked around the room and we thought, what have we got here and what are we doing. We have Aboriginal art work on the wall and we have spoken to the children about the pictures. They actually copied some of the pictures, the outlines of the pictures, and photocopied them for the children, because there’s a lot of dots and I made them into several, so there was a lot of colouring for the children in the pictures that I drew. So there is art work around the room and there are also some books on the bookshelf. I have some audiotapes with didgeridoos on it and the children know that sound. We have had the music teacher come in and play the didgeridoo, attempt to play the didgeridoo, so the children know the sound of the didgeridoo and what it’s like. Basically that’s about it.


Tolerance and tokenism overlooks

Tolerance and tokenism overlooks

  • Contemporary lives and realities

  • Diversity as it exists in community

  • Inequities within every-day lives

  • Stories of heroes, resistance, activism.

  • From this children build knowledge that is based on stereotypes…


Tolerance tokenism and policy

Tolerance, tokenism and policy

  • QIAS

    • ‘…the program requires an environment that is…reflective of the cultures of the wider community’


Questions2

Questions…

  • How can early childhood services respectfully acknowledge and include a variety of cultures within their curriculum while exploring both historical and present-day issues and representations? Including acknowledgement of Anglo-white culture and understandings?

  • Where might the stepping off point for this be for early childhood educators? For policy makers?


Embraced

Embraced

  • Context driven, shifting and community based

  • Guiding points

    • Images, activities and discussions of differences within cultural diversity must make up part of everyday life to ensure all children are acknowledged and develop a healthy sense of identity and understandings about all people


Embraced1

Embraced

  • Guiding points

    • be respectful and fair in portrayals of other cultures and of the necessity to engage ethically with people from other cultures. How this engagement occurs however, is negotiated within relationships and dependent upon feelings of trust.


Embraced2

Embraced

  • Guiding points

    • It involves early childhood educators, etc, being willing to reflect on their backgrounds and histories and letting go of the position of expert in order to allow for space for others voices and understandings and knowledges.


Reflections

Reflections

  • Our children?

  • Our community?

  • How can we begin to develop policy that leads…?


Where to from here

Where to from here?

  • It is important to consider the real possibilities policy has for guiding and leading practice around cultural diversity.

  • It is important to think about how we structure both preservice education and professional development work around cultural diversity.


Where to from here1

Where to from here?

  • Try an audit of cultural diversity policies and practices at your service using the approaches outlined here today.

  • Work to create an early childhood community that is respectful of difference and has space for diverse voices.

  • Approach the ‘other’ with respect and the intent and desire to learn.


Where to from here2

Where to from here?

  • Avoid positioning the other as the expert to answer your questions about a specific culture

  • Avoid tokenism

  • Work to acknowledge and recognise that diversity exists both across and within cultures.


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