Ecology of Teaching and Learning

Te Whariki and Reggio Emilia: A comparative study, identifying comparing and contrasting the beliefs, theoretical perspectives and ideas of two different approaches to Early Years learning.

The first years in school are amongst the most important in a child’s life.   The skills, both educational and social that are learnt in these years may affect the whole course of a child’s later education and life.   The ability to play together, learn collaboratively and form friendships are vital skills that all young children must acquire.   Research and interest in children’s early development dates back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which saw the growth of formal education.   The most influential of the early educational pioneers, Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852), Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925), Maria Montessori (1870-1952), Susan Isaacs (1885-1968) and the MacMillan sisters (1860-1931) still influence current educational thought and practice today.   Much of the current thinking of child development among early year’s educators is also supported by the findings of more recent theorists, the most influential being, Piaget (1896-1980), Bruner (1915), Vygotsky (1896-1934) and Bronfenbrenner (1979).   Within their findings they reinforce and extend many of the ideas and thoughts of the early pioneers, supporting the early childhood traditions as described by Froebel et al.   Whilst much of their work has been criticized and challenged, (Donaldson, 1987, Lambert and Cylde, 2003, Shayer, 2003) the philosophies of these theorists continue to have a major impact upon childhood education and care.
Two recent research   publications, EPPE, (2004),and Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years, (2002) highlight the importance of high quality early years care and education and the benefits that this may have on a child’s learning and

development.   How ‘quality’ is perceived within education is dependant upon the context in which it is set and the perspective of...