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date: 08 December 2022

Early Childhood Teacher Education in Global Perspectivefree

Early Childhood Teacher Education in Global Perspectivefree

  • Olivia N. SarachoOlivia N. SarachoUniversity of Maryland at College Park

Summary

Teacher educators assume that the teacher education programs in their own countries provide a comprehensive scope of possible selections. Nevertheless, how teacher education is planned and implemented differs in each country. They have different practices in both early childhood education and teacher preparation programs, even though American early childhood education theories and practices have guided them. In addition, countries differ in their early childhood education teacher qualifications. Teacher education programs have been attempting to prepare global-minded early childhood teachers who can function in other countries. Teachers who are prepared with global perspectives are able to help students succeed in the interconnected world where they encounter challenges throughout their lives.

The globalization of early childhood education and the preparation of teachers in the United States and other countries appear ultimately to be achieving importance, respectability, acknowledgment, and wisdom. Several countries have engaged in transforming early childhood teachers through educational reform, which calls upon countries to expand and improve early childhood care and education. Educational reform has intermittently been a main topic of discourse and seldom an emphasis of commitment in countries around the world. Frequently these reform attempts have emphasized the necessity to advance children’s knowledge, abilities, and views to help them become good citizens and productive adults. Whereas developments may not be equivalent from country to country, the movement is continuous. It is encouraging to see countries functioning to advance programs to prepare teachers of young children and to cope with the demanding difficulties and concerns of early childhood education and the preparation of early childhood teachers.

Subjects

  • Curriculum and Pedagogy

Introduction

Teacher educators assume that the teacher education programs in their own countries demonstrate the complete span of conceivable choices. The way teacher education is planned and implemented differs in each country. This article describes the importance of preparing global-minded early childhood teachers who can function in other countries and the preparation of globally minded teachers by focusing on diverse cultures, childrearing practices, and cultural knowledge. It identifies and explains the development of global movements, which encourages teacher preparation programs to provide global field experiences. It identifies the prerequisites and value of global field experiences and then discusses the impact of quality in early childhood education and compares teacher preparation in different countries. It concludes by discussing educational reforms for global early childhood teachers to improve their knowledge, abilities, and understandings.

Preparing Globally Minded Teachers

The expression “globally minded” refers to a worldwide approach to describe how and where individuals were raised based on their language, culture, and childrearing practices. Teacher preparation programs need to go beyond their context and study the outside world. Early childhood teacher education programs have the responsibility to prepare teachers to become globally minded in a world that is changing into a global community (Penn, 2011). The expansion of linguistic and cultural diversity demands that prospective teachers are able to educate students in more diverse settings (Castro, 2010). Rodríguez (2008) and Merryfield (2000) claim that the majority of teacher preparation programs fail to appropriately focus on such abilities, which leads most minority-world teachers to assume that the difficulties of “historically marginalized communities are attributable to inadequacies within those communities” (Rodríguez, 2008, p. 293). Therefore, Smolcic and Katunich (2017, p. 48) suggest that “preparing culturally responsive or intercultural teachers represents one of the most daunting tasks facing teacher educators today.” Freire (1973) declared that since individuals become accustomed to their cultural surroundings, they inevitably construe the world based on their personal cultural views. Consequently, the individual “loses his [her] ability to make choices and is subjected to the choices of others, to the extent that his [her] decisions are no longer his [her] own because they result from external prescriptions” (Freire, 1973, p. 16). Hence, minority-world preservice teachers frequently accept the concepts that their cultural principles and instructional practices are greater than those of the majority world. The expression “minority-world” refers to those individuals who are from richer areas of the world, which represents a slight proportion of the world population, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe (Recchia & McDevitt, 2018). The expression “majority-world” is a replacement for the terms third world or developing world, as such expressions create a dialogue about particular countries that are less developed or more advanced than others (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 2013; Pence, 1998, 2018; Recchia & McDevitt, 2018). Therefore, teacher candidates need to know how to work with students from these countries.

Teacher education programs need to offer their students opportunities to intermingle with various cultures and vigorously engage in a variety of surroundings to help them develop a critical consciousness, which helps preservice teachers transition from deficit-oriented perspectives toward culturally knowledgeable perspectives based in cultural relativism (Freire, 1973; Rogoff, 2003). They need to know about different global populations, including their cultures and language. Burton (2011) adds that this proficiency is essential, particularly with beginning teachers who will confront social and cultural variations because of globalization. He states that the differences in societies need these modifications to help teachers achieve proficiency in cultural practices, childrearing practices, and educational philosophies from global societies that are different from the ones they know (Akpovo, Nganga, & Acharya, 2018). Teacher candidates can practice in other countries to acquire this knowledge.

Preservice teachers need to study in different countries to engage in cultural immersion and international field experience programs. These experiences give them the opportunity to learn and improve their interpretations of other cultures. Preservice teachers can achieve cultural proficiency and the understanding that cultures are adaptable and active as opposed to being static. Furthermore, such programs offer a basis for cultivating a global awareness that permits them to adjust their interpretations of other teaching and learning situations as established by the country’s cultural customs (Dantas, 2007; Smolcic & Katunich, 2017). Hanvey (2004) proposes that educators recognize ways to expand multiple views when participating in international experiences:

The recognition or awareness on the part of the individual is that he or she has a view of the world that is not universally shared, that this view of the world has been and continues to be shaped by influences that often escape conscious detection, and that others have views of the world that are profoundly different from one’s own. (p. 5)

Teacher preparation programs that have an international element are able to involve preservice teachers in learning about global problems and understanding cultural practices. International experiences also establish areas for discourse and encourage the improvement and application of a curriculum that nurtures an appreciation of diverse world interpretations and challenges cultural norms about the quality of early childhood education (Akpovo, 2017; Cushner & Chang, 2015; Madrid, Baldwin, & Belbase, 2016; Nganga, 2016; Thapa, Akpovo, & Young, 2018). In becoming globally minded, teachers need to have the knowledge to be responsive to the different cultures throughout the world.

Preparing Teachers for Globally Culturally Diverse Cultures

The way children are cared for and raised is usually referred to as childrearing practices, which differ extensively throughout cultures and countries around the world; however, a discussion of how to educate and care for young children provides a basis for the majority of early childhood teacher preparation programs (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009) at universities throughout the world.

Childrearing Practices

Universities need to build a place within their teacher preparation program that permits preservice students to take their own unique background and personalities to the practice of becoming teachers (Recchia & Loizou, 2002). This is particularly valuable for preservice teachers who encounter cultures in countries that have very different childrearing practices from those in the United States. Their funds of knowledge (1) are influenced by “historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household or individual functioning and well-being” (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992, p. 133) and (2) are assumed to be valuable resources for representing the students’ capability of becoming teachers. A separate knowledge can similarly develop difficulties in teacher education when there is a lack of support to completely integrate them into the teacher preparation experience (Adair, Tobin, & Arzubiaga, 2012; Cho, 2010; Gupta, 2006; Jackson, 2006; Pailliotet, 1997), which affects the quality of early childhood education and care. Preservice teachers need to learn how to use their cultural knowledge to become global-minded teachers.

Using Cultural Knowledge in the Preparation of Global-Minded Teachers

A substantial body of research has emerged on how to help teachers become culturally responsive educators. The results of these studies specifically focus on how to communicate with individuals from different cultures and countries. Preservice teachers can interact and merge with different cultures and languages through global field experiences. Such experiences can help them to both improve their understanding of the cultural diversity in their U.S. classrooms and communities and establish a basis to support their students to acquire the skills they will need to be able to socialize with others and find solutions to widespread global problems (Cushner & Chang, 2015). Preservice teachers need to learn how to support culturally and economically diverse students.

Presently, public schools are more culturally and economically diverse, which increases the demographic split between teachers and students. In addition, teachers in diverse schools may expect less of students of poverty and provide them with instruction that diminishes the effectiveness of a high-quality public school education. Teacher educators are facing the challenging task of preparing culturally responsive teachers who are willing and able to teach in these divergent environments (Castro, 2010; Villegas, 2008). A large amount of the research on encouraging culturally responsive teaching focuses on disparities and insufficiencies in preservice teachers’ experiences, attitudes, and perceptions. Hopefully, mature students can generate innovative methods of perceiving the world and relating to others. Teacher educators need to provide students with insightful opportunities that allow them (1) to have an important discourse and understanding in the classroom (Howard & Aleman, 2008), (2) to stimulate their critical and democratic contribution to society, and (3) to support a more impartial world (Castro, 2010). Several global movements have emerged that have contributed to stimulating students’ diverse experiences.

The Development of Global Movements

The globalization of early childhood education and the preparation of teachers in the United States and other countries appear ultimately to be achieving importance, respectability, acknowledgment, and wisdom. For example, the direct development of International Baccalaureate programs in public schools throughout the United States, the extensive recognition of the Asia Society/EdSteps publication Education for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World (Boix-Mansilla & Jackson, 2011), the Longview Foundation’s publication Teacher Preparation for the Global Age: The Imperative for Change (Longview, 2008), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization report Strong Foundations: Early Childhood Care and Education—The Education for All Global Monitoring Report (UNESCO, 2007) attracted international interest in the preparation of global-minded teachers. Then a series of organizations promoted this focus: the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization for Global Teacher Education (GTE), the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), and other well-known organizations and institutions.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization

UNESCO, a specialized organization of the United Nations, is situated in Paris. Its purpose is to promote peace and security by sponsoring international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural improvements that strengthen universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the successor of the League of Nations’ International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (UNESCO, n.d.). In this role, UNESCO led the Education for All (EFA) movement to improve early childhood teachers’ qualifications.

The Education for All Movement

EFA is a global movement that attempts to meet everybody’s (e.g., all children, youth, and adults) learning needs. UNESCO has been delegated to direct the movement and manage its international attempts to achieve education for all. EFA has developed several reports, such as the 2007 EFA report.

The 2007 EFA report describes countries’ efforts to develop and improve early childhood care and education. An aspect of this report is the preparation of early childhood education teachers who work with young children from birth to eight years of age. It concentrates on the first EFA goal, which requests that countries develop and improve early childhood care and education (ECCE). Therefore, a small number of developing countries have set early childhood education to be their priority. Since overall pre-primary teachers lack or have limited preparation—much less than their primary school counterparts—numerous countries are making an effort to improve the quality and qualifications of current ECCE staff. These countries are providing their staff with in-service training and continued education.

Education and Resources

In 2003, Estonia established competence-based teacher training and in-service training requirements for pre-school teachers. All Moroccan regions have a preschool resource center to offer teachers continuing education and educational support. In 1970 the Service Volunteered for All (SERVOL, n.d.) program was founded to promote its people’s self-development. SERVOL is a service organization involved in educational and community-based endeavors to reinforce the family unit by offering assistance and education to parents, children, and adolescents in Trinidad and Tobago. It introduced a community-based program and parent-centered nursery school education at a regional center. The program focuses on three- to five-year-old children in Trinidad and Tobago.

The SERVOL Training Center in Trinidad and Tobago arranges in-service teaching for other Caribbean islands, while the Regional Training and Resources Centre (RTRC) offers training and certification in ECCE. It is a two-year program that prepares teachers to work with young children whose ages range from three to five years. The training program is accredited by the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) and transmits registration status for entry to a bachelor’s of education degree. In addition, at the end of two years trainees who have successfully completed the program and have passed the written and practical examinations receive an ECCE certificate from the Ministry of Education/SERVOL.

In other areas there is substantial growth toward EFA, particularly the main goal of universal primary education. However, the EFA report determines that considerably more needs to be achieved to have high-quality early childhood teachers. Audacious actions need to be undertaken to overcome segregation. In addition, all-encompassing learning prospects need to be guaranteed for everyone in early childhood and throughout life.

Most countries lack early childhood personnel. However, having knowledgeable and experienced teachers can guarantee high-quality ECCE programs. The caregivers’ and teachers’ qualifications, training, and experience are remarkably different for both. In highly developed countries teachers can work together with unqualified child caregivers and part-time volunteers. In industrialized countries, the ECCE personnel have an education and perform preservice teaching. Numerous countries have implemented policies to develop and advance programs for their ECCE personnel, but its development is uneven and slow.

National Association of Foreign Student Advisers

The National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA)1 is the Association of International Educators and the world’s biggest nonprofit association devoted to international education and exchange. In 2010 it held its annual Colloquium on the Internationalization of Teacher Education (NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 2010). It held a 2019 conference in Washington, DC titled, “Global Leadership, Learning, and Change.” It highlighted excellent informational engagement prospects, professional development programs, and the biggest international education exhibition for all international educators and organizations that support international education. Teacher candidates and professionals were encouraged to attend the foremost global professional learning and networking event (NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 2019).

In addition to conferences, NAFSA provides ways to improve international education learning and scholarship. It encourages understanding and esteem among diverse individuals and develops productive leadership in the global community. NAFSA and its members consider international education essential to nurturing peace, security, and safety. International educators range from cutting-edge professionals to faculty, deans, provosts, and presidents of colleges and universities. NAFSA also sponsors the Journal of Studies in International Education, a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes educational studies to merge international, intercultural, and global facets into the philosophy of higher education. Launched in 1997, it is published by SAGE Publications on behalf of the Association for Studies in International Education.

Global Teacher Education

GTE is an organization that guarantees that teachers from the United States are appropriately educated to prepare their students to manage and prosper in a globally connected world. It has affiliations with colleges of education and professional organizations in the education and teacher preparation areas to support the internationalization of teacher preparation programs by involving professionals as well as developing and disseminating research and best practices. It prepares individuals to become self-assured in their personal culture as well as have the ability to appreciate other cultures with which they will gradually interact in their personal, social, and economic lives. In 2013 the comprehensive Global Teacher Education website was established. It also founded the Center for Internationalizing Teacher Education (CITE) to launch global certificate programs and teamed up with several institutions to generate certificates that concentrate on developing global knowledge, skills, and views of future teachers. Such programs also provide laboratories to develop materials and courses that assist all teacher candidates, such as the following:

1.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education has conceived a certificate in Global Perspectives for future teachers. It requires them to earn 21 credit hours in general education courses as follows: 3 credits in United States or European history; 3 credits in global cultures, world geography, or cultural anthropology; 12 credits in non-Western/non-European courses that concentrate on two world areas; and one 3-credit course on Education and Globalization.

2.

Michigan State University’s College of Education proposed a five-year process to build the Global Educators Cohort Program (GECP). An advisory board helped to construct the program that focused on explicit learning outcomes and the essential strategies to attain them. Such strategies consist of finding fitting liberal arts courses, modifying teacher preparation courses, creating field experiences (in both the United States and overseas), and generating extracurricular activities comprising seminars and a mentoring program with global students.

3.

Teachers College at Columbia University joined the World Savvy and Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning to produce the Global Competence Certificate (GCC) for educators. The program was formed in partnership with nonprofits and the college of education to offer transferrable credit. In-service teachers can register in the program for either continuing education credit (CEUs) or graduate credit through Teachers College. The program is delivered through online courses, international fieldwork, and collaborative groups. The GCC program can be used as a groundbreaking model for teacher educators to expand global competency skills by helping preservice teachers to develop these skills through in-service training.

4.

Faculty from several institutions joined together to form a program on developing an undergraduate global education certificate. Faculty from Akron University, Kent State University, and Miami University (Ohio) collaborated to introduce a template for an undergraduate global education certificate. The University of Akron has created a master’s of arts in global education that is now in the college and university approval processes. The program attempts to modify current courses, generate new courses, and incorporate an international project for teacher candidates.

5.

Rutgers University is also heading an institutional collaboration to build a model for networking, professional development, curriculum design, and transmission of international and global content and links into New Jersey teacher education programs.

GTE is a free resource for educators to support U.S. K–20 students improve their understanding of and prepare them for their world. Since February 2013, GTE has experienced a web existence that includes members from 103 academic institutions, 21 countries, 39 states and the District of Columbia, 70 associations, foundations, and nonprofit, governmental, and educational organizations. It has assisted teachers and teacher educators to participate and share ideas and resources in many essential areas (e.g., culturally responsive pedagogy, a framework for internationalization, and global competence; Global Teacher Education, 2019).

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and Topical Action Groups

The AACTE is the leading voice on educator preparation. AACTE represents more than 800 postsecondary institutions with educator preparation programs dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that ensures educators are ready to teach all learners. AACTE leads the field in advocating for and building capacity for high-quality educator preparation programs in a dynamic landscape. “AACTE’s members across the country prepare educators to meet the needs of every learner through innovative practice, rigorous programs, and continuous improvement” (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2019a).

In 2014 both the AACTE and topical action groups (TAGs) elevated their efforts to graduate students with a global perspective. TAGs offer a medium for individuals with similar interests or goals to convene within the arena of teacher preparation. AACTE offers TAGs with operational funds, publicity, online meetings, managerial place, staff provision, meeting place at the AACTE Annual Conference, and the reputation of the AACTE association. AACTE members introduce, prepare, and administer TAGs and they are supervised by the AACTE president/CEO. TAGs usually place an emphasis on issues that a subdivision of the affiliation considers to be essential to teacher preparation. Any individual from an affiliate institution can join a current TAG or begin a new TAG (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2019b).

Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development Countries

The OECD is an international organization consisting of developed countries that have a specific focus on balancing policy among its member countries. Currently, 35 countries from North and South America to Europe and the Asia-Pacific are members. They are some of the world’s most progressive countries, but several are also developing countries (e.g., Mexico, Chile, Turkey). OECD is directly involved with both (1) countries that have emerging economies (e.g., the People’s Republic of China, India, Brazil) and (2) areas that have rising economies (e.g., Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean). Their mutual goal continues to be to create a sturdier, fresher, reasonable world (OECD, 2018).

In countries that are members of the OECD, tertiary2 education and specialized education are typically expected. France requires preprimary teachers to take and pass a national examination. This opportunity is only available to those who have a three-year post-secondary diploma (OECD, 2004). In Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Portugal, preprimary teachers complete a minimum of three years of postsecondary education. In Spain, preprimary teachers need a master’s degree (OECD/UNESCO, 2005). In Spain, canguros (“kangaroos,” referring to nannies, paid caregivers in the child’s home) are required to have a medium level of preparation. However, teachers need to have education credentials at a higher level. Sweden raised the university requirements for preschool teachers from three to three-and-a-half years, which makes it comparable to the requirements for primary teachers (UNESCO, 2002).

In most national situations caregivers need almost no formal preparation. For instance, in the United Kingdom, foster care workers, house parents, nannies, and childminders are not required to have any preparation. In comparison, most caregivers in group child care settings are required to have higher levels of preparation and a certificate such as in vocational training. The United States, an OECD country, does not require teachers in private schools and child care centers to have an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree (Ackerman, 2006). However, 14 states expect teachers in state-funded pre-schools (such as those teaching in the public schools) to have both a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a teaching certificate (Barnett, Hustedt, Robin, & Schulman, 2004). OECD has established principles to provide a challenging framework to focus on the teachers’ professionalism, which includes the following:

Teachers need to be well versed in the subjects they teach in order to be adept at using different methods and, if necessary, changing their approaches to optimize learning. This includes content-specific strategies and methods to teach specific content.

Teachers need a rich repertoire of teaching strategies, the ability to combine approaches, and the knowledge of how and when to use certain methods and strategies.

The strategies used should include direct, whole-group teaching, guided discovery, group work, and the facilitation of self-study and individual discovery. They should also include personalized feedback.

Teachers need to have a deep understanding of how learning happens, in general, and of individual students’ motivations, emotions, and lives outside the classroom, in particular.

Teachers need to be able to work in highly collaborative ways, working with other teachers, professionals, and para-professionals within the same organization, or with individuals in other organizations, networks of professional communities and different partnership arrangements, which may include mentoring teachers.

Teachers need to acquire strong skills in technology and the use of technology as an effective teaching tool, to both optimize the use of digital resources in their teaching and use information-management systems to track student learning.

Teachers need to develop the capacity to help design, lead, manage, and plan learning environments in collaboration with others.

Teachers need to reflect on their practices in order to learn from their experience. (Schleicher, 2012, p. 38)

Such principles require considerable teacher knowledge. Several countries use groundbreaking resources and methods to teaching in order to modify embedded opinions and feelings about learning. Contemporary methods also acknowledge that teacher learning will occur through collaboration with other teachers (Schleicher, 2012), including teachers from other countries. A way to facilitate such collaboration is through global field experiences.

Providing Global Field Experiences

For some time, several well-known organizations and institutions have strongly advocated overseas student teaching. They include the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching, Educators Abroad, the University of Northern Iowa, and Global Gateway for Teachers. In the same way, many scholars (e.g., Cushner & Brennan, 2007, Cushner & Chang, 2015, Kissock & Richardson, 2010; Malewski, Sharma, & Phillion, 2012; Ochoa, 2010) have reinforced such initiatives and have shown the value of these experiences in the preparation of globally minded teachers.

State, university, and professional accreditation agencies require preservice teachers to complete a structured curriculum to become certified. This traditional curriculum lacks the flexibility for preservice teachers to participate in at least one semester of field experiences abroad. Nevertheless, more preservice teachers have chosen to participate in overseas field teaching experiences. These countries welcome them in their roles as teachers, and they in turn become comfortable, well-informed, and proficient at living and working in cultural environments that differ from their own. Studies have been conducted to support these experiences.

Prerequisites for Global Field Experiences

Various studies (e.g., Akpovo, 2017; Akpovo et al., 2018; Bryan & Sprague, 2012; Cushner & Chang, 2015; DeVillar & Jiang, 2012; Gaudino, Moss, & Wilson, 2012; Vande Berg, Connor-Linton, & Paige, 2009; Vande Berg, Paige, & Lou, 2012) show the effect of overseas student teaching experiences on instructional practice, better employment prospects, acquiring global knowledge, deepening understanding of second language learners, and development of cultural proficiency. For example, Cushner and Chang (2015) studied preservice teachers in an overseas student teaching field experiences placement. They found that for preservice teachers to become globally minded, they needed more than overseas student teaching. Cushner and Chang (2015) concluded that before the student teaching experience, preservice teachers needed to know the intercultural development of the country to be able to achieve a transformation in intercultural proficiency (Cushner & Chang, 2015). Others (e.g., Vande Berg et al., 2009, 2012) found similar results.

Value of Global Field Experiences

The Georgetown Consortium study provides important evidence that most students benefit from participating in programs abroad that are intentionally designed to promote their intercultural learning. The study also argues that focusing intentionally on learning abroad is important, especially if the preservice teachers have a cultural mentor who frequently meets with them (Vande Berg et al., 2009). A crucial basis for improving teaching is an understanding of children’s learning. The number of studies that show the way young children learn and teachers teach has considerably increased (Schleicher, 2012). These studies require that teachers understand the quality of early childhood education and care.

The Impact of Quality in Early Childhood Education

Understanding the quality of early childhood education and care affects the preparation of teachers who need to have excellent knowledge of child development and best practices in early childhood education. Teachers need to have a strong preparation in early childhood education to be able to apply knowledge of child development and teaching strategies that are appropriate for young children’s ways of learning (Saracho, 2013a). According to Rosenthal (2003), “the real challenge of any discussion of quality in Early Childhood Education and Care lies in the exploration of that which is universal, common to all cultural communities, and that which is culture specific” (p. 112). The influential position of quality is founded on Euro-Western standards based in child-centered, play-based, and integrated curriculum methods supported by social constructivist theories of young children’s learning and development (Li & Chen, 2017). For instance, most teacher education programs and child care centers in the United States depend completely on the National Association for the Education of Young Children guidelines (NAEYC, 2012) to define “quality” care and education (Tobin, 2005). Based on the intellectual establishment of majority-world standards, which are supported by Euro-Western theories of child development and developmentally appropriate practices, Akpovo et al. (2018) studied the concept of quality in early childhood education and care during two international field experiences with minority-world students (i.e., United States) in two majority-world populations, Kenya and Nepal. They examined how minority-world preservice teachers interpreted the quality of early childhood care and education field experiences in majority-world contexts (e.g., Kenya, Nepal). They used the concept of contextually appropriate practice (CAP) to find out how minority-world area (e.g., the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe) early childhood preservice teachers describe “quality” practices. They found that preservice teachers from the United States expected that quality in Kenya and Nepal could be “fixed” if they accepted Euro-Western guidelines and teachings, which preserves neocolonialism in education. Their results support their theoretical framework that the history of ostracism together with Euro-Western pressures and control have suppressed inherent ways of teaching young children in these environments (Rosenthal, 2003). Akpovo and colleagues (2018) recommend that preservice teachers be provided with the freedom to strengthen their interpretations of quality, particularly in partnership with local teaching community members to be able to obtain their reactions, feedback, and guidance concerning contextually appropriate practices for majority-world children. This issue is further explored by comparing several countries throughout the world.

Crossnational Comparisons of Teacher Preparation

One of the problems with crossnational comparisons is that, just as the systems of early childhood education greatly differ, the systems of teacher preparation differ considerably. Such variance makes comparisons difficult. In addition, it is not always possible to gather comparable information from each source. The rewards of such comparisons, however, far overshadow the difficulties. Comparing early childhood teacher education within different countries and cultures provides a better understanding of our own and the many possible conceptions, goals, and ways of achieving common goals of early childhood education teacher preparation programs. Several organizations and researchers have compared the preparation of teachers in the United States and other countries.

Organizations

In 2007, The Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, formerly known as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO compared the qualifications and training of preprimary teachers in several countries and submitted their report in a document titled Strong Foundations: Early Childhood Care and Education (UNESCO, 2007). The early childhood teacher requirements similarly differ based on the category of the ECCE professionals and their functions. Moss (2000, 2004) found ECCE professionals in various developed countries in the following categories:

Pedagogues have a general preparation in the theory and practice of teaching and are responsible for children in a range of settings with children whose ages range from birth to compulsory school age.

Early childhood or preprimary teachers have a teacher preparation that focuses on children of preprimary school age, mainly in formal situations.

Child care or nursery workers generally have a basic paramedical preparation with a focus in child care and early childhood services for the welfare system.

Qualified or trained auxiliaries are part, time nurses and are considered semi-professionals.

Family day care workers normally have limited or no preparation and are not in a child care center. They might be independent providers or self-employed who care for a small group of children in their home.

Nonqualified auxiliaries or volunteers are individuals (e.g., mothers of attending children) who in some way assist the teachers and are not employed by the children’s program. They usually assist teachers as necessary, perhaps providing children with individual instruction, assisting with enrichment activities, and/or helping teachers in the classroom.

These categories differ for each country and era. They also change based on the basic structure of the workforce, which sometimes becomes universal.

Research Investigations

A limited number of global studies that compare teacher education have been conducted, although several experts (Levin, 2008; Sahlberg, 2010; Stewart, 2010) have shared their knowledge. According to Stewart (2010), several high-performing countries (e.g., Finland, Singapore) control how many candidates are admitted to their teacher education programs to select the best candidates and to guarantee better employment, thus expanding the appeal to the profession. In contrast, some countries (e.g., England, United States) do not restrict how many candidates are admitted to their teacher education programs.

Many countries criticize teacher education programs for being extremely theoretical rather than being accountable for the quality of their graduates’ preparation. On the other hand, colleges of education are not meeting the demands of the high-speed global modifications in the economy and necessary professional abilities. Countries differ extensively in how they modernize teacher education. For example, in China and Finland, conventional teacher preparation programs are acknowledged and appreciated, and variations are created within the current institutional framework (Sahlberg, 2010; Stewart, 2010). In comparison, government reorganizers in Ontario, Canada, considered teacher education programs too rigid to adjust; therefore, concentration was mainly on refining professional development for current teachers (Levin, 2008). England selected the approach of generating alternative ways to contend with conventional contributors. Singapore’s Teacher Education Model for the 21st century required that teachers have current knowledge of literacies and be able to set up learning environments that help their students to develop these abilities. Stewart’s (2010) study of Singapore schools indicated that numerous modifications in the Singapore model are similar to those found in several other countries. These emphasize guided practice in classroom situations from the start of preparation and having teacher education programs responsible for a series of preliminary teacher competencies associated with the national standards.

In the United States individuals graduate from a four-year bachelor’s degree program with a certification in early childhood education. In Korea, kindergarten teachers complete either a two-year or a four-year postsecondary teacher preparation program in early childhood education. However, the majority of kindergarten teachers only finish a two-year program. Primary school teachers are trained at specialized four-year universities called national teachers’ colleges. Graduates are awarded a bachelor’s degree and certification to teach at the primary school level. Junior vocational colleges offer technical and vocational training that consists of two- and three-year programs in early childhood education (World Education News & Reviews, 2002).

In Australia and Israel, teacher candidates need to complete a three-year or four-year post-secondary program. These countries attempt to improve their teacher preparation and require kindergarten teachers to attend a four-year teacher education program. Israel provides professional preparation for kindergarten teachers at four-year teacher training colleges that would award them a B.Ed. degree. They also have to fulfill an internship in their fourth year at teacher training colleges that grants them a B.Ed. degree. The Ministry manages the in-service training in pedagogical centers (such as PISGAH centers) for kindergarten teachers on subjects it wishes to promote (UNESCO, 2006).

In Australia, kindergarten teacher requirements are defined in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. Kindergarten teachers need to complete a level of skill equivalent to at least a bachelor’s degree or have higher qualifications. In addition to the formal qualifications in some situations, pertinent experience and/or on-the-job training are required. The minimum qualifications for kindergarten teachers consist of having a specialization in kindergarten and a registration or license.

Australia has limited teaching practices because of its economic restraints, because cooperating personnel are paid for working with teacher trainees. Therefore, the increase in the level of teaching practices increases the cost of teacher preparation programs. Both Korea and Australia have a restricted number of field experiences and teaching practices. In Korea, the limited teaching practices are based on tradition (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, 2009).

A crossnational study on the integration of early childhood care and education also examined the academic qualifications of teachers and their assistants in several countries. The report showed the qualifications of early childhood education teacher and assistants in several countries (see Table 1) (Kaga, Bennett, & Moss, 2010).

Table 1. Qualifications of Early Childhood Education Teacher and Assistants in Several Countries

Country

Qualifications

Brazil

Degree or lower-level qualification

New Zealand

3-year degree qualification for 0–5 workers

Sweden

Degree qualification for 1–6 workers + assistants

Slovenia

Degree qualification for 1–6 workers + assistants

Finland

Degree qualification for ECCE workers + assistants

In 2004, more than 20% of preprimary teachers had less education than primary teachers. Only a limited number of countries (e.g., Senegal) required teachers to have an education. Certain countries (e.g., Bangladesh, Chad, Guinea, Oman, and Syrian Arab Republic) did not require any education for preprimary teachers. Lesotho and Uganda have designed a program for preprimary teachers that consists of early childhood courses offered at the Lesotho College of Education, an early childhood certificate course, and a nursery teacher certificate that is recorded at the Uganda Ministry of Education (Wallet, 2006).

Global Requirements for Preprimary Teachers

All teachers need to be academically qualified for their specific professional roles. They need to earn degrees in early childhood education/child development or complete substantive early childhood course work. Academic qualifications refer to vocational diplomas, professional certifications, and undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. These qualifications differ for each country. The majority of more economically developed countries have different requirements for the care and education of early childhood personnel (Moss, 2004). Several of them are qualified to work with young children ranging from infancy to preprimary education. A number of ECCE professionals specialize in specific kinds of early childhood education settings such as kindergarten or preschool (Moss, 2000).

Qualifications for preprimary teachers differ considerably by country. For example, UNESCO (2007) found that in twenty-three countries, only four required preprimary teachers to have a lower-secondary qualification, which is approximately between nine and eleven years of formal schooling. In eight of the countries, teachers needed to complete regular upper secondary studies, in the remaining eleven countries teachers were required to complete a post-secondary qualification. Many countries are lenient with their formal requirements, which extend the preprimary teachers’ range of qualifications. For instance, teachers meeting formal requirements include 100% in Cuba, 36% in Kazakhstan, 59% in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and 52% in Lebanon (UNESCO, 2007).

All countries have difficulty in selecting and recruiting students to become early childhood education teachers. They are also concerned about the content of their teacher education program. Nevertheless, programs in other countries are changing to reflect those in the United States. Currently, the United States and other countries are inclined to require a post-bachelor’s degree in education to improve the quality of early childhood teachers (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, 2009).

Educational Reforms for Global Early Childhood Teachers

Educational reform has intermittently been a main effort of discourse and seldom an emphasis of commitment in countries around the world. Frequently these reform attempts have stressed the necessity to advance children’s knowledge, abilities, and views to help them become “good” citizens and “productive” adults (Yeom & Ginsburg, 2007). The United States has been involved in several reforms in teacher education, such as edTPA that began in the fall of 2013. A major challenge confronting public education is to guarantee that the nation’s progressively young and new teachers are prepared to meet all of the students’ academic needs. On their first day in the classroom, teachers need to be prepared to teach with the essential skills required to promote their students’ learning. In responding to this need, Stanford University and the AACTE established a partnership to create and distribute edTPA, previously known as the Teacher Performance Assessment. This reform provides teacher preparation programs with a multiple-measure assessment system affiliated with state and national standards, including Common Core State Standards3 and the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC). It manages the development of curriculum and practice to guarantee that new teachers are competent to teach all students successfully and increase the students’ achievement (Robinson, Pecheone, & Darling-Hammond, n.d.). Other countries have not developed a similar reform.

Furthermore, contemporary educational reform dialogues in numerous countries repeatedly consider teachers and teacher education programs a dilemma, wherein their recommended resolutions consist of expanding the professionalism of teachers and teacher education. Since the 1980s, Korea has used professionalization to improve the quality, status, and authority of teachers and teacher preparation programs. Thus, the professionalism of teachers, teacher education programs, and teachers’ unions were Korea’s major areas of reform.

Comparative and international education scholars (e.g., OECD, 2018; Yeom & Ginsburg, 2007) have acknowledged the international procedure of shifting educational reform concepts through fundamental countries and among basic and marginal countries including Korea and the United States. The ideology of cultural, economic, and political globalization is an important experience that describes to some degree of convergence (versus divergence) in educational ideologies, structures, and practices. Yeom and Ginsburg (2007) used documents to examine the educational reform in Korea and the United States and the way teachers and teacher education programs conceptualize professionalism and if the countries influenced each other. They found that although both Korean and U.S. documents appear to represent components of the functionalist (or trait theory) conception of professionalism, Korean documents focused on teachers’ concerns about power and autonomy. In relation to the two countries’ influence, Korea seems to have adopted U.S. concepts, structures, and practices.

Conclusion

The quality of an early childhood education program greatly depends on the quality of the teachers who staff the program. To a large degree, teacher education programs are responsible for the quality of the teachers they prepare (Saracho, 2013b). As the United States and other countries advance their teacher education programs, young children’s programs are also improved. However, there is not a clear relationship between outcomes in teacher education programs and outcomes in children’s programs. This movement to develop early childhood teacher education and preparation is an international trend (Saracho, 2013a, 2013b; Saracho & Spodek, 2003). Whereas developments may not be equivalent from country to country, the movement is continuous. It is encouraging to see countries throughout the world functioning to advance programs to prepare teachers of young children and to cope with the demanding difficulties and numerous concerns of early childhood education and the preparation of early childhood teachers.

Further Reading

  • Ackerman, D. J. (2006). The costs of being a child care teacher: Revisiting the problem of low wages. Educational Policy, 20(1), 85–112.
  • Adair, J., Tobin, J., & Arzubiaga, A. (2012). The dilemma of cultural responsiveness and professionalization: Listening closer to immigrant teachers who teach children of recent immigrants. Teachers College Record, 114(12), 1–37.
  • Akpovo, S. M., Nganga, L., & Acharya, D. (2018). Minority-world preservice teachers’ understanding of contextually appropriate practice while working in majority-world early childhood contexts. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 32(2), 202–218.
  • Barnett, W. S., Hustedt, J. T., Robin, K. B., & Schulman, K. L. (2004). The state of preschool. 2004 State Preschool Yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Childhood Research, Rutgers University.
  • Bjork, C. (2009). Preschool in three cultures revisited. Comparative Education Review, 53(2), 259–283.
  • Bryan, S. L., & Sprague, M. M. (2012). The effect of overseas internships on early teaching experiences. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues, and Ideas, 70(4), 100–201.
  • Cho, C. L. (2010). “Qualifying” as teacher: Immigrant teacher candidates’ counter-stories. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 100, 19–22.
  • Dantas, M. L. (2007). Building teacher competency to work with diverse learners in the context of international education. Teacher Education Quarterly, 34, 75–94.
  • DeVillar, R., & Jiang, B. (2012). From student teaching abroad to teaching in the U.S. classroom: Effects of global education on local instructional practices. Teacher Education Quarterly, 39(3), 7–24.
  • Garmon, M. A. (2004). Changing preservice teachers’ attitudes and beliefs about diversity: What are the critical factors? Journal of Teacher Education, 55(3), 201–213.
  • Gaudino, A. C., Moss, D. M., & Wilson, E. V. (2012). Key issues in an international clinical experience for graduate students in education: Implications for policy and practice. Journal of International Education and Leadership, 2(3), 1–16.
  • Gupta, A. (2006). Early experiences and personal funds of knowledge and beliefs of immigrant and minority teacher candidates dialog with theories of child development in a teacher education classroom. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 27(1), 3–18.
  • Hicks, D. (2003). Thirty years of global education: A reminder of key principles and precedents. Educational Review, 55(3), 265–275.
  • Kissock, C., & Richardson, P. (2010). Calling for action within the teaching profession: It is time to internationalize teacher education. Teaching Education, 21(1), 89–101
  • Law, H. F., Wan, W. F., Galton, M., & Lee, C. K. (2010). Managing school-based curriculum innovations: A Hong Kong case study. Curriculum Journal, 21(3), 313–332.
  • Madrid, S., Baldwin, N., & Belbase, S. (2016). Feeling culture: The emotional experience of six early childhood educators while teaching in a cross-cultural context. Global Studies of Childhood, 6(3), 336–351.
  • Malewski, E., Sharma, S., & Phillion, J. (2012). How international field experiences promote cross-cultural awareness in preservice teachers through experiential learning: Findings from a five year collective case study. Teachers College Record, 114(8), 1–44.
  • Merryfield, M. M. (2000). Why aren’t teachers being prepared to teach for diversity, equity, and global interconnectedness? A study of lived experiences in the making of multicultural and global educators. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, 429–443.
  • Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice, 31(2), 132–141.
  • Ochoa, A. (2010). International education in higher education: A developing process of engagement in teacher preparation programs. Teaching Education, 21(1), 103–112.
  • Tobin, J., Hsueh, Y., & Karasawa, M. (2009). Preschool in three cultures revisited: China, Japan, and the U.S.. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Wang, A., Coleman, A., Coley, R., & Phelps, R. (2003). Preparing teachers around the world. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

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Notes

  • 1. NAFSA was initiated in 1948 as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers to support the professional development of U.S. college and university administrators accountable for helping and guiding the studies of 25,000 foreign students who had arrived in the United States after World War II. NAFSA, academic institutions, government agencies, and private organizations collectively determined the needs of diverse students who needed special knowledge and competencies (NAFSA, 2018).

  • 2. Tertiary education (similarly considered to be third-stage, third-level, and postsecondary education) is the educational level after finishing a school that offers a secondary education.

  • 3. Since 2010, a number of states throughout the United States have implemented the Common Core State Standards. This educational initiative designates what K-12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each school grade.