THE JAPANESE JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH
Online ISSN : 2187-5278
Print ISSN : 0387-3161
ISSN-L : 0387-3161
Special Issue: Between Research on Early Childhood Care and Education and Educational Research
Debates on the Conceptualization of Educational Issues of Early Childhood Education and Care in Germany
Sayaka NAKANISHI
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2014 Volume 81 Issue 4 Pages 473-483

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Abstract

 The purpose of this paper is to clarify the contents of debates on the conceptualization of educational issues of early childhood education and care in Germany, with a particular focus on two readings of the concept of Bildung: ‘self-formation (Selbstbildung)’ and ‘co-construction/development of competency’.
 In recent years, early childhood education and care have been receiving public policy attention in many countries around the world. The main themes of early childhood education and care are children’s learning and connectivity from preschool to primary school. Accordingly, early childhood education and care is at a turning point.
 Traditionally, early childhood education and care has its own role to play, distinct from that of schools. Early childhood education and care has been characterized by an emphasis on children’ play and subjective activities derived from their own interests. However, demands for learning have brought fundamental change to the field of early childhood education and care. How should we respond to this situation?
 This paper focuses on debates on the conceptualization of educational issues of early childhood education and care in Germany. Currently, the results of the OECD-PISA are acting as a catalyst in terms of reforming early childhood education and care. Educational policy measures concerning early childhood education and care were (1) to improve language and literacy competence in the early years and (2) to improve the link between kindergarten and school, with the aim of earlier entry into public schooling. In this situation, the role of German early childhood institutions is changing from ‘care’ to ‘education (Bildung)’. In response to this change, professional discourse on the early childhood education and care centres around the conceptualization of educational issues.
 German experts in this field have suggested two readings of education (Bildung): ‘self-formation’ and ‘co-construction/development of competency’. ‘Self-formation’ is a reading focusing on children’s construction of inner worlds, while ‘co-construction/development of competency’ focuses on the interaction between children and adults. These two readings of Bildung are contrasted in various respects. The important thing, however, is to focus on the issue in relations between these two readings of Bildung. Results suggest that it is a matter of the starting point of pedagogical ideas. This debate in Germany suggests a possibility of rethinking Japanese early childhood education and care radically.

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© 2014 Japanese Educational Research Association
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