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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Working with Birth to Three: Exploring the Personal Theories of Early Years Practitioners
Authors: Barcroft, Dorothy A.
Supervisor(s): Stephen, Christine
I'Anson, John
Keywords: Early Years
Ethic of Care
Birth to Three
Personal theory
Substitute mothering
Issue Date: Apr-2016
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Practitioners working with children under three are often marginalised; both in terms of group settings and in terms of being a focus of research (see Manning-Morton, 2006; McDowell-Clark and Baylis, 2012). This research prioritizes the practitioner’s voice by exploring the subject area of personal theory. In this thesis, personal theory is conceptualised as a composite of understandings and experiences including policy, organisational procedures, Early Years literature, training and Continuing Professional Development as well as personal and professional experiences, beliefs, and values. As Stephen and Brown (2004) indicate, particular constructions of care, learning, and children shape what is considered desirable educational practice. Drawing on Aristotle’s intellectual virtue of phronesis, this research’s aim is to understand how practitioners’ personal and professional experiences and understandings contribute to practitioners’ construction of personal theory. Research questions focus on: 1) understanding which relationships are particularly influential, 2) understanding which experiences are particularly influential and 3) identifying key features of practitioners’ personal theories. Case study methodology frames the research design. The research demonstrates that although personal theory is tacit, linking to specific instances of practice enables practitioners to articulate personal constructions of care, learning and children. Findings relate to six key characteristics of practitioners’ personal theories: practice as an ‘Ethic of Care’, practice as pedagogy, practice as ‘subsitute mothering’, practice as distinctive for children aged birth to three years, practice as rooted in experience and practice as emotional activity. Joan Tronto’s (1993, 2013) ‘Ethic of Care’ affords further consideration of personal theory; particularly the contradiction between personal theory that shapes engagements with young children as an ‘Ethic of Care’ and that which shapes engagements as ‘substitute mothering’. The thesis’ discussion highlights how the articulation and discussion of personal theory enables a richer construction of Early Years professionalism and professional identity within Birth to Three settings.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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