Published by CELA on 2 May, 2017

Do terms such as intentional teaching and child-led learning actually take away educators’ confidence to teach?

In my last post for Amplify!, I talked about the perception of early childhood and care (ECEC) in the government and public eye.  This also gets me thinking about whether perception plays a role in how teaching and education practices are undertaken in services.

Something that I’ve noticed as I visit services in my consultancy work is that at times teachers and educators seem reluctant to take on a ‘direct’ teaching role.  They observe children, document in various ways, and establish learning environments and experiences.

Many teachers and educators now document their ‘intentional teaching’ experiences with set groups of children at set times throughout the day.  They explain this to be when direct teaching instruction, and therefore children’s learning, occurs.  At other times throughout the day, when children are engaged in play and learning, I’ve noticed that the same teachers and educators can take on an observer’s role, unsure of when they may contribute or engage.

Now I’m all for not taking over children’s play when doing so adds nothing, or detracts from, children’s creativity, imagination and learning.  But when children could benefit from intentional teaching questions, to deepen their thinking and open up further possibilities, or support in working effectively with their peers; opportunities are often missed.

Sometimes, when I visit centres, I see children flitting from one experience to the next, interrupting the play of other children and generally appearing to be lost, with this ‘‘hands off’ approach from teachers and educators prevailing.

The terms intentional teaching, children’s agency and the like are more evident than before through their presence in the NQS and the EYLF. But it sometimes feels like their use has relegated the practice of teaching to the bench, only to be called on for set game plays.

I’m in favour of anything that shifts practice away from developmentally inappropriate structure and routines in ECEC settings, but on the other hand I’m opposed to the narrow interpretation of these constructs that may affect the capacity of teachers and educators to exercise their wealth of pedagogical muscle.

I worry that my graduating university students, armed with the potential to be exceptional early childhood teachers, will be permanently benched when they make it to a team.

So, my second pondering is this:

Do interpretations of terms in the National Quality Standard and the Early Years Framework such as intentional teaching, children’s agency and child led learning undermine the pedagogical confidence of teachers and educators?

Meet the author

Jennifer Ribarovski

Jennifer Ribarovski has over thirty years experience in the education sector, including playing a key role in the implementation of the National Quality Framework for both the NSW Regulatory Authority and the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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