Integrating Cultural Beliefs Into Early Childhood Education

There are myriads of cultural beliefs that are mostly ignored in several jurisdictions especially when it comes to early childhood education. However, it is not necessarily true that all the cultural beliefs mentioned by Tobin (2011) are integral within the early childhood education cycle. As much as cultural beliefs play vital roles in the acquisition of early education by a child, we also have to mention that some of the beliefs may be counterproductive when evaluated after a considerable length of time.

For example, is it wrong to undervalue a cultural belief that is not in tandem with the needs of the learner? Definitely, the latter should not be the case. Perhaps, some countries have put a lot of emphasis on certain cultural beliefs when preparing early childhood education programs. If there are any elements of professional knowledge that can be drawn from specific cultural beliefs, then such kind of knowledge should be emphasized by policy makers and formulators in education. In addition, the implicit cultural practices should not necessarily be learned during the early childhood education level.

The most important consideration to bear in mind is that other levels of learning can still be employed when integrating cultural beliefs with explicit knowledge required in education programs. Is it really necessary to over-emphasize the implicit cultural beliefs in early childhood education at the expense of formal knowledge required in the contemporary world? In the empirical research study by Sirin, Ryce and Mir (2009), we can still visualize the same challenge when it comes to handling children in their preschool days.

Even though the aspect of culture does not seem to be explicit in this study, it is obvious that the manner in which teachers evaluate children is largely affected by their individual cultural affiliations and backgrounds. For instance, there is little that policy makers can do in order to change certain perceptions.

Better still, it is also evident that different countries have unique ways of handling early childhood education experiences. When teachers rate preschool children differently and especially based on their countries of origin, it vividly depicts the level of bias that often exist in our education systems. Therefore, it can be utterly wrong to favor one system over the other bearing in mind that each one of them has its outstanding strengths and weaknesses.

If we explore the case study of the United States, we get to learn that immigrant children constitute slightly over twenty percent of pre-school admissions. Unless a thorough cross-cultural analysis and evaluation of their population is carried out, it may still be quite inaccurate to adopt findings of few studies. In my experience with early childhood education, I have come to realize that each child has unique learning characteristics that are driven by several intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Unless these learning factors are investigated on the basis of the individual child, it is highly likely that generalization may take place.

Can generalized research studies be adopted as conclusive findings in any way? This is why I fully agree with Roopnarine and Metindogan (n.d) who argue that cross-national perspectives on early childhood education should be researched and analyzed when coming up with similar findings. A smaller population sample with just a few variables may not produce the most accurate and dependable results. In any case, various disciplines guide the modern early childhood education as I have noted in my past interaction with this learning domain. For example, history and folklore, cross-cultural psychology as well as psychological anthropology are all vital elements that influence the direction which early childhood education ought to take.

References

Roopnarine , J.L. & Metindogan, A. (n.d). Early childhood education research in cross- national perspective. Cross-national perspective 31: 555-571.

Sirin, S.R., Ryce, P. & Mir, M. (2009). How teachers’ values affect their evaluation of children of immigrants: findings from Islamic and public schools. Early childhood research quarterly, 24: 463-473.

Tobin, J. (2011). Implicit cultural beliefs and practices in Approaches to Early Childhood Education and Care. Asia-Pacific Journal of Research in Early childhood education 5(1), 3-22.

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