Developmentally appropriate practices in Asian Indian early childhood classrooms

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Linnaeus University]On: 10 October 2014, At: 09:26Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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    Developmentally appropriate practicesin Asian Indian early childhoodclassroomsSaigeetha Jambunathan a & Mathew Caulfield aa New Jersey City University , USAPublished online: 12 Mar 2008.

    To cite this article: Saigeetha Jambunathan & Mathew Caulfield (2008) Developmentallyappropriate practices in Asian Indian early childhood classrooms, Early Child Development andCare, 178:3, 251-258, DOI: 10.1080/03004430600767916

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  • Early Child Development and CareVol. 178, No. 3, April 2008, pp. 251258

    ISSN 0300-4430 (print)/ISSN 1476-8275 (online)/08/03025108 2008 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/03004430600767916

    Developmentally appropriate practices in Asian Indian early childhood classroomsSaigeetha Jambunathan* and Mathew CaulfieldNew Jersey City University, USATaylor and Francis LtdGECD_A_176748.sgm10.1080/03004430600767916Early Childhood Development and Care0300-4430 (print)/1476-8275 (online)Original Article2006Taylor & Francis0000000002006SaigeethaJambunathansjambunathan@njcu.edu

    The goal of the present study is to explore the use of developmentally appropriate practices in AsianIndian early childhood classrooms. This information is critical for all early childhood educators andteacher educators because the society we live in is fast becoming extremely diverse and our class-rooms are becoming a cauldron of various cultures, languages, personalities and views on education.Twenty-one early childhood classrooms were observed in a southern metropolitan city in southIndia. The trained researchers filled out the Rating Scale to Assess the Use of DevelopmentallyAppropriate Practices in Early Childhood Classrooms to evaluate the use of developmentally appro-priate practices in the classrooms. The observations are in the categories of creating a caringcommunity of learners, teaching to enhance development and learning, constructing appropriatecurriculum, assessing childrens learning and development, and reciprocal relationships withparents and families. Preliminary descriptive analysis of the data showed that most of the classroomsscored between two and three in all of the five subscales. The mean scores for the classrooms are asfollows: creating a caring community of learners, mean = 2.09; teaching to enhance learning anddevelopment, mean = 2.66; constructing appropriate curriculum, mean = 1.96; assessing childrenslearning and development, mean = 2.12; and reciprocal relationships with parents and families,mean = 2.31. The results of the study seemed to indicate that the Asian Indian classrooms did nothave an abundance of appropriate practices occurring in the classrooms. However, in light of thediverse nature of educational programs and practices in the various countries, we have to interpretthese results carefully. The results do give us information about what practices are given importanceand which ones are not considered that important in India.

    Keywords: Developmentally appropriate practice; Indian early childhood classrooms

    Introduction

    Early childhood education is developing an increasingly global dimension in the earlytwenty-first century. Early childhood educators are moving in the direction of sharing

    *Corresponding author. Room 329, Department of Early Childhood Education, 2039 KennedyBoulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305, USA. Email: sjambunathan@njcu.edu

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  • 252 S. Jambunathan and M. Caulfield

    information about theory and practice across cultures and countries, preparing teach-ers to work with diverse populations, and constructing a global philosophy of educa-tion that will be reflected in their practices. However, there is not much literatureavailable about practices in early childhood classrooms in developing countries. Thisinformation is critical for early childhood educators and teacher educators becausethe society we live in is fast becoming extremely diverse and our classrooms arebecoming cauldrons of various cultures, languages, personalities and views on educa-tion. The goal of the present study is to explore the use of developmentally appropri-ate practices in Asian Indian early childhood classrooms.

    Developmentally appropriate practices, as proposed by the National Associationfor the Education of Young Children, encompass three main paradigms to which theteachers must attend: human development and learning, individual characteristicsand experiences, and the social and cultural contexts of the child. Thus, teachersshould bear in mind that children come from different backgrounds, and learn anddevelop at different paces. This should be reflected in the different types of learningmaterials, strategies, and guidance techniques they use, for according to theNational Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) the childshould be the focal point of the curriculum (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997).Research has demonstrated that classroom use of developmentally appropriate prac-tices has positive benefits for children (for example, Larsen & Robinson, 1989;Marcon, 1992; Burts et al., 1993; Charlesworth et al., 1993; Dunn & Kontos, 1997;Hart et al., 1997).

    India, a country with centuries of history behind it, is a pot pourri of culture,language, religions, economic strata and mores (Paranjothi, 1969; Jambunathan,2005). Education is highly valued by all in this cosmopolitan country (Paranjothi,1969; Jambunathan, 2005). The practice of early childhood education developed inthe twentieth century in India, with Gandhi and Maria Montessori being importantearly influences. Montessoris writings and philosophy were integrated into theteacher education programs (Pattnaik, 1996). After India gained independence in1947, thanks to the efforts and vision of educational reformers and scholars such asLajpat Rai, Tagore, Goshal and Gandhi, the mission of the Indian educationalsystem incorporated a developmental viewpoint that included meeting the needs ofthe children and allowing them to be children as they traversed the educationalsystem. The ideas these visionaries proposed were very similar to what we now referto as developmentally appropriate practices. They wanted the main focus of educa-tion to be on the child and his or her various areas of development. They also saidthat teachers had to use hands-on methods of imparting knowledge in the areas oflanguage, mathematics, science, social studies and physical education. Anothersalient feature of this post-independence mission was to impart knowledge in thechilds native language. These scholars did not criticize the British way of teaching;however, they wanted to review the Indian tradition in education and blend the twotogether so that learning would be a meaningful and enjoyable experience both forthe teachers and children (Paranjothi, 1969). In 1986 the governments NationalPolicy on Education recognized the value of the education of the whole child. The

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  • Developmentally appropriate practices in Asian Indian classrooms 253

    policy highlighted the importance of play and meeting all areas of development of thechild versus focusing only on the academic instruction. Furthermore, this policydiscouraged academic instruction in early childhood. With the passing of the seventhFive Year Plan (19861990), more guidelines were put in place for teacher prepara-tion with some focus placed on meeting the needs of the child and using developmen-tally appropriate strategies. However, more emphasis was placed on teaching thecontent areas. More recently researchers have observed a combinatio