Special issue of Research in Comparative and International Education

Vol 3, No. 3 (2008) of the Research in Comparative and International Education journal is devoted to early childhood education and care, with several articles addressing issues related to immigrant, migrant, transnational children. Abstracts taken from the RCIE website:

Not just content, but style: Gypsy children traversing boundaries. Martin P. Levinson, University of Exeter, UK

The policy to integrate English Gypsy children in schools tends to overlook the difficulties facing such youngsters in their attempts to negotiate between contrasting practices and values at home and school. Contradictions between such practices/value systems at home and school entail not only knowledge/skills, but also differing modes of instruction/transmission. Informed by learning theories and New Literacy discourse, along with evidence from previous accounts of Romani learning practices in the home context, this article draws on findings from an ethnographic study of English Gypsies (1996?2000), and data from a follow-up study, involving original and additional participants (2005?6). The article explores attitudes across age-groups, outlining, in particular, the knowledge/skill base valued in the home setting, highlighting the mismatch between home and school expectations, and the difference of expectation in child–adult relations in each context. It argues that policy-makers need to consider the wider impact of school education on identity and group membership.

Tracing global–local Transitions within early childhood curriculum and practice in India. Anita Gupta, School of Education, City College of New York, US

Taking the view that curriculum and pedagogy are complex processes related to history, politics, economics, culture and knowledge, and influenced by interactions that occur between students, teachers and the larger communities, this article will discuss how curriculum takes shape and is negotiated in some early childhood classrooms in post-colonial urban India. The article draws on empirical and published research, and includes a discussion on the influence of recent local and global forces on teaching and learning, focusing specifically on issues such as: the deep divide between private and public education in India; the challenge of sustaining local government schools in India in the face of the global emphasis placed on knowledge of the English language; the recent increase in the emergence of private schools in low- as well as high-socio-economic-class neighborhoods in India; the more recent neo-colonial influences of western media on children’s lives in their homes and schools; and early childhood teachers’ perceptions on the transitions between ‘western’ and ‘Indian’ values.

Understanding childhoods in-between: Sudanese refugee children’s transition from home to preschool. Darcey M. Dachyshyn, Eastern Washington University, USA and Anna Kirova, University of Alberta, CA

Canada receives over 30,000 refugees each year, approximately 10% of whom are under five years of age. While to varying degrees the factors influencing the experiences of adult refugees have been identified and researched, the experiences of young refugee children ‘living in-between’ has only recently begun to capture researchers’ interest. This article considers what the experiences are of young refugee children in their day-to-day living between languages and cultures as they make a transition between home and Canadian early childhood settings. More specifically, the question addressed is: What roles do refugee children play in mediating the host culture for their parents in the hybrid place created by play? The authors propose that play in early childhood does serve, for refugees experiencing resettlement, as a site of cultural mediation, contestation, and identity negotiation. An analysis of three Sudanese refugee mothers and their four-year-old sons’ use of common early childhood artefacts – wooden building blocks – is used to demonstrate how young refugee children who experience child care outside their home for the first time not only learn to ‘be a preschooler’, but learn to ‘interpret’ this role to their parents.