Transparency in Early Childhood Education: What the West Can Learn from Australia’s Focus on Well-Being
The landscape of early childhood education and care has become unrecognizable in many countries, particularly in the West. There is an increasing pressure to focus on outcomes over process, prescribed curricula, standardized assessments, and unrealistic academic expectations for young learners and the adults who work on their behalf. This shift in educational practice has become a harsh reality for many young children, families and educators.
The purpose of this paper is to challenge these mounting pressures through an in-depth examination of how early education and care in Australia places well-being as one of the top priorities for young children. Australia was deliberately identified for this analysis because of international acclaim received for its highly praised national early childhood framework as well as the steadfast and visible commitment to education and care for its youngest citizens.
Using multiple contexts and narratives, three key features are described that demonstrate how early education practices in Australia counter Western beliefs about who children are and how they learn. These three features are: (a) a strong sense about holistic well-being, (b) truth about place, and (c) living in harmony with the natural world. Ideas for global education reform are proposed as one way of joining with other voices to protect young children across the world.
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