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About us Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences Organization News PhD Defences BSS

Turning the kaleidoscope

multiple enactments of professional autonomy in early childhood education
PhD ceremony:dr. M.G. oosterhoff
When:April 01, 2021
Supervisor:prof. dr. A.E.M.G. (Alexander) Minnaert
Co-supervisors:dr. C.E. Oenema-Mostert, dr. T. Thompson
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Turning the kaleidoscope

Give another twist to the regulation of early childhood education

Many teachers in the first two grades of primary education feel that their environment hinders them from carrying out their work according to their own professional views. Arda Oosterhoff has investigated the influence of the school environment on the professional autonomy of kindergarten teachers in this respect. Her research illustrates the current trend towards external input and output regulation, which is based on a technical understanding of educational quality. The research also shows the negative consequences of this trend for early childhood education and the well-being of teachers.

The results show that many different actors, both human and non-human, influence the professional autonomy of the teacher – in complex and interrelated ways. Some concrete recommendations emerged from the study. Because of their position between the government and the workplace, school leaders can play an important role in keeping the balance between external regulations and teacher autonomy healthy – literally. Teacher education curricula should pay more attention to developing specific expertise in early childhood pedagogy and support the development of agency in prospective teachers.

However, due to the complex dynamics of professional educational practice, none of these recommendations will provide a definitive solution on their own. In addition to the recommendations for management and teacher education, it seems especially important to recognize the complexity of educational practice and the variety of influences within it. The quality and effects of education can be considered in many different ways. The current, one-sided technical discourse entails the risk that what can be expressed in figures will become more important than what is less quantifiable. The specific expertise of teachers should be taken seriously in evaluating learning outcomes and optimizing educational quality.