OECD seminar on early childhood education and care on 7-8 June 2010 in Japan explores issues in professional development
Maybe you’re young enough to remember it. Maybe your kids or grandkids are in it. Regardless of whether you were in preschool, day care, or stayed home with parents or caretakers, our youngest years are our most formative. It’s therefore interesting to observe how early childhood activities vary across cultures. In the US, children are often asked to bring a personal item to “show and tell” the class about that gives insight into the individual. In Japan, however, they often participate in “oyugi”, which involves dancing and singing together as a group, and saying “itadakimasu” together as a group before eating bento boxes for lunch.
Whether these different activities are enough to explain the US’ individualist culture and Japan’s culture of collective harmony is separate topic of discussion (a potential dissertation topic for aspiring academics) but regardless of the country in which you live, the quality of early childhood education and care matters.
An OECD seminar in Japan next week will address the issue of professional development in early childhood education and care. Just as preschool activities vary across countries, so do systems of professional training and development. Policy makers, teachers, administrators, and parents from all over East Asia and Europe will come together to discuss their respective professional and leadership development programs as well as “show and tell” others about best practices.
Investing in early education and care is one of the most effective ways to increase long-term education outcomes. As we move out of the economic crisis, effective education investments are increasingly critical. But as we might have learned when we were in preschool “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” Whether it’s leading the class in song, or helping a child feel comfortable speaking about something personal, teachers help shape the quality of education.
Therefore, investing in quality training programs that provide teachers and administrators with the tools necessary to provide high-quality care for early learners should be a lesson worth remembering.