Sunday, 17 September 2017

proposed new Swedish preschool curriculum - some reflections...

Here in Sweden at the moment those working within preschools are being given the opportunity to read the first part of the new edition of the preschool curriculum and to have our say.
You can check it out here it is, of course, in Swedish.

I have already read it and expressed my opinion in the format that they have given us... a kind of questionnaire.

But I thought I would share some of my opinions here...
As before the curriculums first sentence is that the school systems rests upon democracy... there is though a much bigger focus on the word "undervisning" which google translates as teaching... but there is another word for teach - "lära" - and this new curriculum has chosen to use the word "undervisning" which is a much more schoolified word and has a bigger connection to instruction, while "lära" is more connected to learning... as the word for learning in Swedish is "lära sig". The word "undervising" is made up of two words - "under" which means the same thing in both English and Swedish and "visa" which means show. So the word, for me has a larger connection to a hierarchy and not the equality of learning together that I (and many others) strive for within early childhood education.

The word popped up many many times and there began to be a feel of unease, despite all the wonderful descriptions of children's rights, and creating a space of equality and respect for all.

Then, about half way through it states...

Play as a basis for development, learning and well-being
Play has a central role in education and promotes children's development, learning and well-being. For children, play itself is important and it can provide joy and well-being. In play, the children are active participants, they mimic, creative and process their experiences. In this way the children can form an idea of ​​themselves and other people. Play stimulates imagination and empathy. Play challenges and stimulates children's communication as well as the ability to symbolize thinking, cooperation and problem solving.
A learning environment and an attitude that encourages play confirms the importance of play for the child's development, learning and well-being. The staff should ensure the conditions for play and lead the play appropriately, either outside the play or by participating in the play. The staff will also ensure that all children have the opportunity to participate in communal play based on their conditions and ability.
Staff should notice factors that limit the play and develop working methods and learning environments that promote play. The physical and conscious presence of the staff leads to the support of communication between the children and the prevention of conflict situations. The play should be seen and heard. Playing children and adults should be given time, space and tranquility to find games, experiment and experience.

And I felt a kind of relax... although it does not say that "undervisning" is performed through play, it does imply that. There needs to be a huge focus on educators exploring play and understanding how learning occurs in the play in order to fully use it as a "lessons" which is the kind of teaching undervisning implies. Play lessons, lesson in play... but at least play is mentioned more than previous curriculums and is stated that it is central, even though the word "undervisning" feels to be used more... maybe I should take the time to count how much both words are used?

Another point that I feel is important that we working in preschools here in Sweden should find out WHO exactly is responsible is this phrase...

An equal education
According to the school law, education in preschool should be equal regardless of where in the country it is organized. Education in preschool shall be characterized by the care of the individual child's well-being, security, development and learning. The education should be accessible, taking into account the children's different conditions and needs, and adapted to all children in preschool. This means that the education can not be formulated in the same way everywhere and that the preschool's resources should not be distributed equally.
This intrigues me... how are they going to find out where all these resources need to be... is it only the money that preschools apply for to meet the costs of having extra teachers to support children as mentioned above... or are they actually going to visit preschools and really see the quality of the teaching that is going on and therefore give more finances to those preschools in need of a pedagogical lift?
There are HUGE differences in the quality of preschools for a variety of reasons... and if they REALLY mean that there should be a quality equality throughout Sweden they need to be able to see what this quality differences are and have a strategy as to how to create an equality...
In the section at the end of this first part the curriculum refers to who has responsibility... that the owner has overall responsibility, the director has pedagogical responsibility and the educators (teachers and assistants) have professional responsibility that the education is of a high standard... but where is the mention of who has responsibility of ensuring that there is equality of quality in all preschools throughout Sweden?

I wonder how such big difference in quality occur... since private, state etc preschools all receive the exact same funding from their local school authorities there is the opportunity for equality that might not be found in other countries where private settings can charge parents more money to attend their educational facilities... that does not exist here.
So it has always surprised me that there has been such a large difference in quality at preschools I have worked at and visited over the years as well as talked about with friends and colleagues.
So what strategy will be put in place? That is something I am eager to find out... as there are many preschools with great potential that need the support to lift their educational standard (and this is for a variety of reasons).

Anyway these are my first BIG take aways from reading the new curriculum draft - I am so glad that educators have been given the opportunity to make their opinions heard... I am curious to see how it will impact the final product...?

And so a collection of quotes on play and learning to finish off this reflection...

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