ECNU Review of Education special issue reexam

video: ECNU Review of Education Special Issue Reexamines Childhood and Curriculum in Diverse Cultural Contexts
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Credit: ECNU Review of Education

Scholarship on how culture influences curriculum is common in the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, and education. However, this literature is Euro-American centric, disregarding diverse cultural contexts in Africa, Asia, and the rest of the world. This special issue, Childhood, Culture and Curriculum in Diverse Contexts addresses this gap by including studies on China, Singapore, and the UAE. “This special issue aims to explicitly acknowledge that, first, culture and the value system it provides has never stayed away from us. Second, social change and cultural collisions in the globalized world reshape children’s experiences and curriculum,says Dr. Weipeng Yang, author of the issue’s editorial.

The articles in this special issue are structured within the framework of the ecological model, which is redeveloped into the model of curriculum hybridization. According to the ecological model, the curriculum must be seen in the context of various competing ecosystems, ie the macrosystem (larger cultural context), the exosystem (institutional imperatives), and the mesosystem (parents, teachers, education experts).

Addressing the microsystem, one paper explores the way dramatic pedagogy can be used to instill morality in children. Taking the Chinese education context as backdrop, Dr. Mengyu Feng studied 16 primary school children who participated in a drama workshop. She demonstrates how process drama facilitates empathy, autonomy, and dialogue. This contribution provides us with new insights into the development of morality in children. In contrast, another paper engages with the mesosystem, particularly the relationship between parents and community. Against the backdrop of a rapidly urbanizing Chinese landscape, Dr. Xin Luo examines the ways in which parental involvement intersects with children’s play and learning in public playgrounds. The study provides new insights into the ways in which the mesosystem interacts with the child’s development in informal settings.

The issue then asks, how does policy reform influence childhood experiences and curriculum? Adopting a critical policy analysis approach, one study examines reforms in the education system in Wales, UK. dr Cathryn Knight and Prof. Tom Crick argue that despite a mandate towards greater inclusivity, policies tend to have contradictory perspectives that are counterproductive. Their approach will be useful to replicate with policies in other cultural contexts as well. Addressing the macrosystem, one of the studies examines how the early childhood curriculum in the UAE serves to advance and transmit cultural values ​​amongst children. dr Najwa Alhosani finds the influence of Emirati and Islamic culture prominent in the curriculum. This is the first of its kind study within the Emirati cultural context.

Going beyond the ecosystems that influence curriculum, in a comparative study, Dr. Weipeng Yang and Prof. Hui Li review research on early childhood education in China and Singapore to look at the various interactions between the global and the local in the creation of a curriculum. The authors found that the western principles that drive the curriculum are not necessarily realized in the classroom. Teachers are more influenced by native practices and contextual realities. In another article, Prof. Jennifer J. Chen engages with this review and extends its relevance. She proposes that educators and policymakers alike should find a harmonious middle ground that mediates between the foreground (policies, globalization etc.) and the background (local cultural values ​​and practices), allowing for a variety of perspectives to emerge from the curriculum making process.

In an article that seeks to synthesize the findings of this special issue, Prof. Sue Saltmarsh addresses the problems caused by adopting a dichotomous view of diversity while creating an early childhood curriculum. Binaries such as mainstream/margin, inclusion/exclusion, same/different encourage us to view diversity as a problem rather than an asset. Further, it ignores the heterogeneity inherent in each of these categories.

The final two articles train the lens on education in the Chinese cultural contexts. In the first, authors Prof. Yong Jiang et al. adopt expert interview methods, including interviews with educators, policy makers, administrators etc., to examine China’s preschool education policy. In the second study, Prof. Tian Baohong examines the importance of Zhong (both character and philosophy) in ancient Chinese education and its relevance, if any, to modern day education. He argues that the philosophy of Zhong has important implications for education in the current and future Chinese contexts.

Due to be released in June 2022, this issue of the ECNU Review of Education promises to bring new insights into early childhood experiences and curriculum development in diverse cultural contexts within a rapidly globalizing world.




Authors: Weipeng Yang`Marek Tesar2Hui Li3

1. The Education University of Hong Kong
2. The University of Auckland
3. Shanghai Normal University

About ECNU Review of Education
the ECNU Review of Education (ROE) is peer-reviewed journal, established by the East China Normal University (ECNU), that prioritizes the publishing of research in education in China and abroad. It is an open-access journal that provides primacy to interdisciplinary perspectives and contextual sensitivity in approaching research in education. It seeks to provide a platform where the pedagogical community, both scholars and practitioners, can network towards advancing knowledge, synthesizing ideas, and contributing to meaningful change.

About dr Weipeng Yang
dr Weipeng Yang is an Assistant Professor at the Education University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on the design, implementation, evaluation, and innovation of early childhood curriculum, teacher learning, technology integration, and leadership programs. Prior to this, he served as a Lecturer at the Singapore University of Social Sciences and as a Research Assistant at the University of Hong Kong. dr Yang earned his Ph.D. in Early Childhood Development and Education at the University of Hong Kong in 2018. He has published extensively in international, prestigious journals while also holding editorial posts in various journals related to early childhood education, teaching, and curriculum.

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