Love, learning and professionalism: the big debates in early childhood education

Tuesday 17 July 2012, 5:46PM
By Victoria University

As the number of infants and toddlers entering early childhood education continues to grow, a Victoria University researcher has been investigating what the role of the teachers of very young children should be.

Professor Carmen Dalli, a leading expert in early childhood education, will share her research on early childhood education for under-two year olds in her inaugural professorial lecture at Victoria University next Tuesday. Her lecture will explore some of the ideological debates surrounding early childhood education for under-twos, and how they impact on the teachers working in the sector. "My research is concerned with the role of the teachers of very young children, and the unique challenges they face. Ultimately, it's about finding out how people working in early childhood services can do their very best for young children." Professor Dalli has spent much of her academic career conducting research into this issue-which affected her personally, as she balanced raising three children with completing her own PhD studies and working as a Lecturer at Victoria University. Her research has involved many different aspects of early childhood education, including how to enhance the experience of starting childcare for parents and children. She has also conducted national surveys of early childhood educators as part of her interest in professionalism in the workforce. In the 1990s, she worked on the creation of New Zealand's first Code of Ethics for early childhood teachers. "Professionalism is not just an individual attribute. It is ethical and political. It is embedded in the broader context of teachers' work." Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says Victoria's inaugural lecture series is an excellent opportunity for professors to share insights into their specialist areas of study with family, friends, colleagues and the local community. "Inaugural lectures are also an excellent opportunity for the University to celebrate and acknowledge our valued professors," says Professor Walsh. Professor Dalli is based in the School of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy at Victoria University, and is Director of the Institute for Early Childhood Studies. She is also an Associate Director of the Jessie Hetherington Centre for Educational Research. Professor Dalli has advised a variety of organisations, governmental departments and early childhood education groups throughout her career, and this year has provided advice to the Minister of Education as a member of a Ministerial Advisory Group on Quality for Under-Two Year Olds in Early Childhood Centres.