Participatory Action Learning and Action Research for inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education
Keywords:Early Childhood Care and Education, Participatory Action Learning and Action Research, inclusion
In South Africa, despite the abolishment of apartheid and a democratic dispensation, exclusion and incidences of discrimination based on numerous marginalised identity markers are widely reported at schools. This article is a segment of a study on a group of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) stakeholders comprising of a university ECCE researcher, six ECCE teachers and two ECCE teacher trainers who explored inclusion using a Participatory Action Learning and Action Research (PALAR) design. The group formed an Action Learning set and engaged in mutual and collaborative learning to transform their learning environments to become more inclusive. Data were generated using narratives from reflective journals and purposeful conversations. Framed by the head, heart and hands model (Siphos, Battisti & Grimm, 2008; Singleton, 2015), the PALAR design necessitates praxis, an iterative process of collaborative reflection and action, where theoretical knowledge is translated into practice. Participants demonstrated this praxis by firstly reflecting on their thoughts and emotions in the first two themes. They then proceeded to institute change in their classrooms which provided a catalyst for deeper transformation of their personal selves. The study contributes both theoretically and methodologically as a PALAR design is utilised to create a more democratic and socially just research and learning platform, resulting in increasing teachers’ theoretical knowledge and practical application of inclusion. This study has the potential to contribute to an inclusive ECCE learning space with a positive impact on the lives of children, especially those from marginalised groups.
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