An exploration of the curriculum in three early childhood centres in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : a case study.
This thesis explores the childhood curriculum in three early childhood centres in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, through a case study approach. The research is located within a critical pedagogical perspective of curriculum/knowledge, consistent with a transformational pedagogical view. The study engages with the curriculum as enacted and experienced by teachers within three different early childhood landscapes: Starfish Pre-Primary School, which is situated in a formal urban area; Siyazama Educare Centre, which is found in an informal urban area, and Zamani Crèche, which is located in a rural area. The experiences offered to children are a blend of both philosophy and practice, underpinned by issues of broader social and cultural values about what role education should play in society and how that role is best practised. The focus is on the curriculum for the junior (three years) and middle (four years) groups at Starfish Pre-Primary School and Siyazama Educare Centre, and for the children aged three to five years at Zamani Crèche. Observation, interviews and documents analysis were used as tools for data collection. This qualitative study shows how past links, contacts and professional suitability can be used as three different strategies in negotiating access to early childhood centres. The study uses critical pedagogy to engage with the philosophy and aim of education, the curriculum goals, the curriculum planning, the curriculum content and the pedagogical practices at Starfish Pre-Primary School, Siyazama Educare Centre and Zamani Crèche. It shows an expanding power base of ideological practices and functions of dominant ideas, values and beliefs in academic knowledge, as well as developmentally appropriate practices that present themselves in early childhood education and promote a description of truth, reality and knowledge that appears to be independent of cultural practices. The findings are analysed from two perspectives: dominant curriculum knowledge and practices and disempowerment of teachers. The study argues that a transformational pedagogical view of knowledge within the existing philosophy underpinning early childhood curriculum and pedagogy, facilitates opportunities to transgress traditions and constitute spaces for possibilities of alternative curriculum enactment and experiences.
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