From parent to practitioner: alternative pathways to professionalism

Wright, Hazel R. (2010) From parent to practitioner: alternative pathways to professionalism. In: Early Childhood Curriculum, Policy and Pedagogy in the 21st Century: An International Debate, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford.

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This paper argues for continuing diversity in the training of childcare practitioners. It considers childcare training from the perspective of a group of mature women entering the sector as parents, revealing how some drift into childcare work because it is convenient, allowing them to extend their personal and professional lives whilst continuing to care for their own children. Although the commitment to a childcare career may be a gradual one, the research shows how the women’s broader experience of life and of motherhood enriches the lives of the children with whom they work, supporting the creation of strong community ties; a form of localized social capital rarely acknowledged but vital to children, to families and to society. The contemporary focus within the UK early years sector is on professionalization of the workforce but this paper takes a sociological perspective and travels in the opposite direction. It asks policy makers to stop for a moment and consider what might be lost if an instrumental approach to raising standards is relentlessly pursued. It is not arguing against higher quality provision, quite the reverse, but seeking to reveal some of the hidden benefits arising when women are allowed a less direct route into the profession, one that integrates their personal and family needs, and allows them simultaneously to be part-time mothers, students and workers. The paper is based on a doctoral study that collected background information by questionnaire from 150 students who trained over a ten-year period. It invited a sample of 33 to explore what adult education meant to them personally. The research used informal interviews but also close listening and focused intervention to clarify meaning. Considerable attention was paid to hesitations, juxtapositions and contradictions in the narratives, during the interviews and on transcription, to make visible tacit understandings. Students were specifically asked to reflect on the expectations, experiences and consequences of enrolment on a Diploma in childcare, and, given the vocational nature of the course, it was anticipated that the interviews would be career-oriented. However, in practice they demonstrated a focus on present lives that suggests that childcare training can do far more than develop subject-specific skills. The students’ focus on their current ‘beings’ and ‘doings’ led to the adoption of Amartya Sen’s capability approach as this is framework concerned with daily living, particularly the exercise of individual choice. The application of this concept added depth to the understanding of the broader outcomes from childcare training, allowing a conclusion that learning to work with children is important to the students themselves, their families, the local community and the wider society but that ultimately these additional benefits also advantage the children attending day-care.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Conference organised by the Early Childhood Research Group at the Faculty of Education, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Repository Admin
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2011 15:09
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 16:17

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