Inviting Young Children to Explore Intercultural Understandings Through Inquiry and Play
AuthorAcevedo Aquino, Maria V.
AdvisorShort, Kathy G.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAlthough early childhood educators have emphasized the importance of building curriculum from the children's life experiences in order to support their processes of making connections and meaning, little research has looked at how this belief positions global explorations as developmentally in appropriate practices. The critique is that most young children do not have direct experiences with global cultures, differences between cultural practices can be confusing for them, and global knowledge will go beyond their capacities (Short & Acevedo, in press). This study, conducted in a Reggio-Emilia inspired Head Start classroom in South Tucson, analyzed young children's inquiries and intercultural understanding as they interacted and responded to an inquiry-based global curriculum. The theoretical frameworks of this study include curriculum as inquiry, creating opportunities for students to engage in in-depth explorations about issues that matter to them as they go beyond their current understandings through language and action (Lindfors, 1999); reader response theory and play provide a theoretical frame for literature and play as safe spaces for exploring self and the world (Rosenblatt, 1995; Wohlwend; 2013) and play as a experiential response strategy that supports young children in interpreting and negotiating complex texts (Rowe, 2007); intercultural understanding as developing a perspective, rather than teaching about other cultures (Short, 2009). The research questions for this study include: 1) What do young children inquire about in local and global communities? 2) How do young children inquire about local and global communities? 3) What intercultural understandings do young children explore? 4) What are the characteristics of classroom engagements from the global curriculum that seem to support children's intercultural understandings? As a teacher researcher, I implemented the global curriculum and collected field notes, videos from children’s play and read aloud engagements, artifacts that the students created as they engaged with the global curriculum, and a teacher journal. I analyzed the data using constant comparative analysis. The findings of this study provide evidence to suggest that global explorations are developmentally appropriate when they build from children's curiosity about the world, and can be encouraged and supported by stories about themes children often tell stories about, and can reference through play as experience. This study also echoes research regarding the importance of approaching intercultural understanding as knowledge, perspectives, and relationships that can generate action informed by deep understandings.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture