Diversity & Difference in Early Childhood Education
This subject takes as foundational the value of diversity and difference in early childhood education contexts. Students will examine national policies and cultural factors that create/influence social justice and equity and that may impact on children, educators, families and communities both positively and negatively. The subject aims both to critically examine assumptions that frame practice and shape identity and to offer alternatives so that early childhood professionals can realise their role as agents of change around issues of diversity, difference, social justice and equity.
The ‘cultural plunge’ activity is designed to encourage you to problematise the ‘givens’, or taken for granted assumptions in your own life. First, you need to identify your social positioning, identity categories and elements of your subjectivity, then, choose an event or place to visit that places YOU in the position of ‘the minority’ or an ‘other’. The place or event could be dominated by a group of which you are not a member OR is very different from what you are accustomed to. The plunge is an attempt to make the ‘strange familiar and the familiar strange.’
After participating in a situation where you feel like the ‘other’, submit a written analytical reflection that:
• Describes your experience and discusses personal insights gained due to undertaking your ‘plunge’. You need to turn your gaze inward to examine yourself and your reactions to the plunge. Identify your feelings before, during and after the plunge relating to being the ‘other’, and offer some critical analysis of these feelings in relation to some of the features of your identity that you identified before undertaking the plunge.
You need to question, evaluate and find connections between your ‘plunge’ and subject theory and readings. Comment on your experiences as ‘the other’ and focus on yourself and what you learned rather than on the group/situation involved in the plunge.
Questions that may guide you in writing your critical analysis (not to be used as headings) include: Why did you feel the ways in which you did? What prompted your discomfort? How did the identity categories that you occupy suddenly become clear to you as you plunged? What did this experience teach you about yourself? How does all of this connect (or not) to class readings and/or other relevant readings?
• Clearly links your plunge experience with implications for policy, programming, planning and working with staff, families and children in your work as an early childhood teacher. Using subject and other readings, offer some critical analysis concerning issues of diversity and difference more broadly.
Remember, an appropriate ‘plunge’ for you, may not be an appropriate ‘plunge’ for others. You need to deeply consider who you are (your identity categories), your personal beliefs, values and biases and use this to decide what situation would place you in the minority or as ‘an other’.
Your ‘plunge’ needs to be a new experience undertaken with this assessment in mind. A retrospective look at a past experience is NOT acceptable. Your plunge cannot involve merely sitting on the sidelines and observing. It must be a situation where you are involved and interacting with others.
Before undergoing your ‘plunge’ you must complete a risk assessment form which can be found in the ‘resources’ section of the subject Interact site. Please attach this completed form to your assessment task when submitting. If you are unsure whether your ‘plunge’ experience is relevant, ethical or safe, please discuss your ideas with your allocated tutor via email. If applicable, students may also need to seek permission from the group or organisation they wish to ‘plunge’ with (for example, a charitable organisation).
The ‘cultural plunge’ is designed to promote socio-cultural awareness through a first-hand experience of circumstances and experiences often faced by minority groups. We hope that through this experience, albeit only a dip into the experience of being the ‘other’, you will be able to continue reflecting on your own perspectives and actions. This will help to deepen your understanding of diversity and the importance of becoming an advocate for social justice. In completing this assessment task, you will be working towards meeting the following learning outcomes:
• show awareness of personal prejudices and biases
• value the process of articulating and deconstructing one’s autobiography in relation to his/her professional practice
identify social justice issues for children, families and communities
• demonstrate a critical understanding of issues related to diversity, social justice and equity and develop pedagogies and curricula for a more inclusive and just practice in early childhood contexts and the broader community
• develop a critical disposition towards assumptions about children in relation to issues of diversity and difference.
Your assessment will be graded using the following criteria:
A. Demonstrates understanding of concepts of social positioning, identity categories and subjectivity by choosing cultural plunge appropriate to students’ own social positioning, identity categories and subjectivity by:
• Identification of student’s own social positioning, identity categories and subjectivity
• Justification for undertaking your particular cultural plunge with reference to key identity concepts (above)
• Discussion of your feelings of being the ‘other’ before, during and after the ‘plunge’, and offering some critical analysis of these feelings in relation to the key identity concepts. (30%)
B. Demonstrates ability to critically analyse the cultural plunge experience by:
• Making connections between the ‘plunge’ and subject readings and integration of relevant readings from subject
• Critical analysis of student’s experiences of being the ‘other’. (40%)
C. Clearly identifies implications for your future career as a teacher, made in relation to policy, programming and planning and working with staff, families and children, and to broader issues of diversity and difference. (20%)
Please note: your assignment will be assessed on how effectively you have integrated the above criteria into your analytical reflection writing task. The marking criteria should not be considered as sub-headings to be used in your discussion.
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