This book moves beyond the traditional constructivist and social-constructivist view of learning and development in science. It draws upon cultural-historical theory in order to theorise early childhood science education in relation to our currently globalised education contexts. The book argues that concept development in science for young children can be better theorised by using Vygotsky's concept of Imagination and creativity, Vygotsky's theory of play, and his work on higher mental functions, particularly the concept of inter and intrapsychological functioning. Key concepts are extracted from the theoretical section of the book and used as categories for analysis in presenting evidence and new ideas in the second section of the book. In this second part of the book, the authors examine how science knowledge has been constructed within particular countries around the globe, where empirical research in early childhood science education has occurred. The third part of the book examines the nature of the encounter between the teacher and the child during science learning and teaching. In the final part of the book the authors look closely at the range of models and approaches to the teaching of early childhood science that have been made available to early childhood teachers to guide their planning and teaching. They conclude the book with a theoretical discussion of the cultural-historical foundation for early childhood science education, followed by a model of teaching scientific concepts to young children in play-based settings, including homes and community contexts.
Qualitative analyses of young children's learning in natural settings are rare, so this new book will make educators sit up and pay attention. It lays out a Nordic, or continental European teaching and learning paradigm whose didactic framework is distinct from the Anglo-American system. This analysis, which features contributions and case studies from researchers in a range of subjects, is built on principles such as the learner's perspective, establishing sufficient intersubjectivity, `pointing out', and informing experience linguistically. After clarifying some historical background, the book discusses the contemporary emphasis in early childhood education on pedagogy/learning. What should `didactics' mean in educating young children?The book examines the opportunities for learning that teachers provide for children in early childhood education, as well as how children respond to these opportunities. It presents empirical studies from a variety of naturalistic settings, including mathematics, making visual art, ecology, music, dance, literacy and story-telling, as well as learning about gender, morality and democracy. The authors seek to answer key questions about the processes involved in both teaching and learning. What challenges do teachers face as they try to expand children's knowledge in various fields of learning? How do they respond to these challenges, and what can we learn about children's corresponding uptake? What now requires further research? One key distinction in researching children's learning is between studies that look at `process' and those that analyze `product'. In the tradition of Piaget, Vygotsky and Werner, as well as Mercer and Valsiner's more recent work, this book advocates the importance and relative rareness of the former type of study.