Thursday, November 11, 2010

Culture and Policy in Early childhood Development

Policies are cultural products. Policies have made based on the concept that member of a group of a culture share together. The effects of policies have a huge role in a everyday life of specific cultural place.
'The relationship between culture and policy in early childhood education is intimate, complex, and multi-faceted'. (Harkness, & Super 2010).
In early childhood education, we need to understand the influence of culture and policy that they have on each other. Unfortunately, there hasn't been much attention to the effect of culture and policy about their reflection on each other in early childhood education.
There are several ways that culture and policy intersect. ' like culture, policy also exist in many levels from national to international organization to local groups'.(Harkness, & Super 2010).
Policies like cultural beliefs are vary of how they have been formalized. We can find policies in handbook format or simply they are shared understanding of what is expected of individuals in particular circumstances. Policies also like culture are reflection of shared values so, therefore; policies are part of individuals cultures.When policies are not stable with the culture of families or children affected by them, they don't work as intended.
One example that I have personally encountered is children's washroom policy at child care centers.
Some centers have policy that boys and girls can go to washroom together but there are many families who culturally don't like this policy and therefore policy and culture is on a conflict.
Ecological framework are helpful for understanding the influence of policy on children's development.
The Ecological system theory of Bronfenbrenner view the child as developing within a level of the surrounding environment. This system is consist of series of nested "system" from the centre "Microsystems" (The relationship between child and immediate family) to the "mesosystem" (connection among immediate setting) and "exosystem" (the social setting that affect but do not contain child) and then "macrosystem" (values, laws, costumes, and resource of the cultures that affect activities an interaction at all the inner layers) and at last "chronosystem" (refers to dynamic, ever-changing nature of the person's environment).
'Ecological frameworks in the study of the child's culturally-constructed environment can inform efforts to understand why and how policies succeed or fail in particulars instances.'(Harkness, & Super 2010).
For example: "the family dinner table" is one  example of policy oriented report.
When we look at ecological approach, we find out how family dinner time fit into child's daily routines. it shows the importance of family dinner time for parents and features of larger environment, including children's school work or other activities, parental work schedules and other social activities; all of these have effect on family dinnertime as a cultural practice.
Now, since programs and policies are cultural products, so their outward gloss and their main purpose can be transformed in other cultures. since every culture has different policies then these programs would be transformed to something that is more acceptable to that specific culture.
For example: The televisions program of Sesame Street was made to "increase" and "help" children with "early literacy" in North America. But now about twenty other countries have Sesame Street but they have have changed the name of characters, voice, and even some countries have emphasized more on cooperation and sharing or some on counting and reading or inter-group respect and understanding, so each countries and culture  have made adaptation based on their policies and cultural value.
'Researchers on policy related to children should integrate disciplinary perspectives in order to match expertise on individual development with knowledge about culture and how to study it.' (Harkness, & Super 2010).


Harkness, S. & Sper, M. C. (2010). Culture and Policy in Early Childhood Development. Encycolopedia on Early Childhood Development.

Berk, Laura, E., & Shanker, Stuart, G. (2006)Child Development (2nd Cdn. Ed.). Toronto, ON: Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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