This paper explores a strengths based approach to providing educationally challenging and supportive environments for young children. The Strengths Approach (McCashen, 2005) recognises strengths as well as the challenges faced by people in families and communities and draws on social justice principles to support self-determined goals as the basis for effective change. With origins in Psychology and Social Services, the Strengths Approach can assist with therapeutic and change orientated processes including child protection interventions. Its potential for education, however, is still to be fully recognised (Hodges & Clifton, 2004). The paper reports doctoral research that evaluated a Strengths Approach as a cross-sector tool for implementing change in Early Childhood Education. Research participants were 19 Pre-service teachers completing a core, 13 week, Early Childhood teaching degree subject at a university in Queensland, Australia. A strengths based child protection module was integrated into the subject. Participants’ responses were gathered in three phases, during the module implementation, following Professional Experience in schools and 12 months following module completion. The primary, qualitative data collection methods used were interviews, focus groups and electronic submissions to web based discussion board. These methods were adapted to ensure that they aligned with the strengths based theoretical framework developed for the research. Participants indicated that a Strengths Approach was useful in enhancing their confidence in their capacity to protect children. They also suggested that a strengths approach was beneficial for managing a variety of other ethical and teaching issues that arose both on Professional Experience and as early career Early Childhood teachers. It also assisted them in forming their own teaching philosophy. This wider application of the strengths approach across the ‘pre-service / in-service boundary’ is the focus of this presentation. In particular, the paper focuses on how participants used strengths resources and the strengths based, step-by-step Column Approach (McCashen, 2005) to assist them in their work with young children and families.
|Publication status||Published - 01 Dec 2011|
|Event||Australian Association for Research in Education International Education Research Conference: AARE 2011 - Hobart, Tasmania, Hobart, Australia|
Duration: 27 Nov 2011 → 01 Dec 2011
|Conference||Australian Association for Research in Education International Education Research Conference|
|Period||27/11/11 → 01/12/11|