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Educators’ risk-taking in high quality early childhood education

Cooke, Mandy and Press, Frances and Wong, Sandie (2020) Educators’ risk-taking in high quality early childhood education. International Journal of Early Years Education. pp. 1-17. ISSN 0966-9760

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Abstract

There is little research to show how early childhood educators perceive risk-taking and whether, in the pursuit of high quality early childhood education, educators might take risks in their professional practice. We conducted a qualitative case study to explore early childhood educators’ views on, and engagement with, risk-taking in professional practice. Through thematic analysis of interviews with 55 educators in three high quality early childhood education services, we show that, for the educators in the study, risk-taking was a valuable aspect of professional practice driven by three main motivations: professional growth and development; developing children as competent and empowered individuals; and advocacy and activism. We also show that educators’ risk-taking was enacted under five broad themes: providing opportunities for children to take risks; trusting children; doing things that are new; expressing ideas and beliefs; and including curriculum content that may be considered controversial, complex and inappropriate for children. We conclude that for educators in the study, risk-taking was enacted as courageous, ethically and morally driven praxis in pursuit of high quality ECE for the benefit of both individuals and society.

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