New Possibilities in Thinking, Speaking and Doing: Early Childhood Teachers' Professional Identity Constructions and Ethics

By Thomas, Louise | Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, September 2012 | Go to article overview

New Possibilities in Thinking, Speaking and Doing: Early Childhood Teachers' Professional Identity Constructions and Ethics


Thomas, Louise, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood


Introduction

Certain components of early childhood education literature position early childhood teachers as members of a professional group (Ebbeck & Waniganayake, 2003; Feeney, Christensen & Moravcik, 2010; Newman & Pollnitz, 2005; Osgood, 2006). This identification as professional draws on various key elements of what it means to identify as professional. These include: qualifications, relationships, autonomy (although this is at times replaced with accountability) and adherence to a code of ethics. Adoption of expected behaviours equating to these elements within the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector over recent decades has contributed to the professionalisation of this sector (Aitken & Kennedy, 2007; Newman & Pollnitz, 2005). My interest in this paper is examining how professional relationships contribute to the construction of professional identities of early childhood educators, and how particular constructions of identity might be seen to influence representations of ethics. The relationships examined in this paper are between teachers and parents, and between teachers and colleagues.

A poststructural review of early childhood education literature can identify what it is to be professional, and what it means to engage in professional relationships. To present other possibilities through which professional identity can be constructed requires a critical analysis of this literature. The aim is to unsettle taken-for-granted truths presented within early childhood literature which depict a universal notion of what it is to identify as an early childhood professional. The intent is to open up opportunities for new ways of thinking, speaking and constructing professional identities.

In professional relationships there is an expectation of expertise and certainty associated with what it means to identify as an early childhood professional. Certainty that is sought through reliance on expertise can create particular assumptions about relationships. There is an associated impact on how ethics is represented as a component of these relationships. The expectation of expertise and certainty can be presented as an example of what Tobin (1995) refers to as 'an unquestionable assumption' (p. 224). I take a position within this paper that suggests a reluctance to question assumptions implicit within expertise and certainty results in a taken-for-grantedness of these expectations. I argue that reliance on expertise and certainty in the construction of what it means to be professional, through expectations of fixed and universal constructions of professional relationships, can and should be challenged. In doing this I consider spaces that can be created for complexities of relationships and uncertainties in early childhood professional identities and ethical engagement.

I review current discursive practices at work in early childhood literature and review the ways these practices are reflective of, and contribute to, early childhood teachers' constructions of professional identity. I begin with an overview of a theoretical framework, which will provide the lens for this inquiry.

Theoretical framework used to read the literature

Privileging particular expectations of professionalism in early childhood education literature presents an early childhood professional identity governed by regimes of truth (Foucault, 1980). A regime of truth (Foucault, 1980) is a socially constructed 'set of rules for thinking and talking about oneself and others' (Weems, 2004, p. 230). In this work such a regime is positioned as a set of rules in the form of expectations or limitations of what is allowable and possible for an early childhood educator in being professional. Identity construction is considered as a process that involves positioning self in relationship with other, and ethics is presented as an authentic engagement in this process (Butler, 2005).

Poststructural perspectives are used to examine possibilities for resistance to taken-for-granted representations of early childhood teachers' professional identities.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

New Possibilities in Thinking, Speaking and Doing: Early Childhood Teachers' Professional Identity Constructions and Ethics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.