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  • 00:00

    [MUSIC PLAYING]Cross Cultural Research in the Trainingof Early Childhood Educators

  • 00:09

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR: My name's Verity Campbell-Barr.I'm an associate professor at Plymouth Universityin the Institute of Education therewhere I specialize in early childhood studieswhere particular interest is around the qualityof early childhood education and care, particularly,those who work in early childhood education and careservices and how they come to know

  • 00:30

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: to work with young children.So the case studies that I'm looking to present todayis actually based on a European Commission funded projectthat I did over 18 months lookingat the ways in which different European countries trainthose people that work with young childrenbut particularly focusing on the Hungarian perspectivebecause it looked different and interesting to me.

  • 00:50

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: So this is very much about the wayin which our cultural interpretations of another,a different country shapes the way in which we mightgo about doing our research.Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes Neededto Work With Young ChildrenSo the project involved 18 months living and workingin Hungary doing a cross-European project looking

  • 01:11

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: at the ways in which different European countries train thosewho work with young children.The project was framed by the European Commission's LifelongLearning Framework, which looks at the knowledge skillsand attitudes that are appropriate to the context.So I was interested in the knowledgeskills and attitudes needed to work with young childrenand how education providers, such as universities,

  • 01:34

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: went about developing these different knowledge skillsand attitudes.The project had several different stages,but today, I'm going to specifically focuson one, the development of an online questionnaireabout knowledge skills and attitudesfor working with young children.And the second was about observing studentswhilst they were training to work with young children

  • 01:55

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: and talking to them about those experiences.In the discussion, I want to focuson the issues of translation.So I want to think about the literal translations that wecan face and the challenges that we have there but alsothe conceptual translations.So by way of example, an introduction to that,in terms of literal translations during a European project

  • 02:18

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: looking into early childhood education and care,presented a number of challenges in termsof how do I refer to those who work with young children.Some countries have split models of educationfor older children, those 3 to school age,and care for younger children, those birth to 3 years of age.And, therefore, the way in which they

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    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: refer to those different people reflects those twodifferent traditions.Conversely, countries, like in the Scandinavian region,have a model what they would call more educare in focus, sobringing together education and care.And they have their own way in whichto talk about those who work with young children.So often on continental Europe, we

  • 02:60

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: will hear people talk about a pedagogue.But here in the UK, the term pedagogueis a bit misunderstood, and people don't reallyunderstand what's meant by it.So often, the native term of pedagoguegets translated as being a teacher.But in the Hungarian context and other European context,the idea of being a teacher or teaching young children,

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    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: it seems completely misplaced.So it becomes very difficult to find literal translations thatreally transpose those cultural meanings of the original terms.Why did you choose Hungary?The research involved living and workingin Hungary for 18 months.And if you're like my mother, you

  • 03:42

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: might be going, why Hungary?Why did you want to go there?Why not Hawaii or somewhere else more exotic?But the thing about Hungary is that itlooked different and interesting to my own UK experiences.And often when we conduct intercultural researchand international research, it's because weidentify another country as looking different in some way.

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    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: So for me, Hungary was different and interestingon a number of different levels.Firstly, they've got a long historyof training those who work with young childrenup to degree level.Whereas, in the UK, this has been quite controversialand support to have degree-level staff has fluctuated.Also, they have a specialized training model within Hungary

  • 04:23

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: where it focuses specifically on working with children 3to school years of age.And that is different to say France,where they have a pre-primary plus primary training model,or in the UK, where we have various different models,including one that goes from birth up 8 eight years of age.Alongside these kind of more structural features,

  • 04:45

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: was also the philosophical approachbehind working with young children.And in Hungary, this was very much about havinga approach that was grounded in child-loving adults.And this understanding of child-loving adultswas about the relationships that a pedagogue has with a child,but also about that will enable a kind of secure relationship

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    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: and a secure foundation for which the child candevelop their social and emotional well-being.Conversely, in the UK, whilst we uphold the importanceof children's social and emotional well-being,there's lots of controversial ideasabout how we go about forming relationships with pedagogues.There's a strong child protection discoursethat means people can often be scared about whether or not

  • 05:29

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: they're allowed to hug children or not.But also, in terms of policy developments,there tends to be an approach that'sfar more managerial in terms of working with young childrenthan perhaps emotional.What is international and cross cultural research?There are many different kinds of international and

  • 05:50

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: cross-cultural research that we can do from desk-based researchwhere we might be looking at data and existing literatureto comparisons of different data sets to actually goingand visiting different countries and seeing what's going on.The desk-based research can give us contextual information,which is really important in terms

  • 06:10

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: of that cross-cultural research.Because whilst there are large-scale internationalcomparisons of what different countries are doing in termsof caring for and educating young children,those large comparisons don't reallygive you the detail as to why theremight be differences between different countriesand explain what's going on.So increasingly, it's recognized that it's really important

  • 06:34

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: to engage with the cultural contextto try and unpick what it is that might be shapingdifferences within individual countriesto try and understand something of the socio-political culture,the way in which people understandchildren, what they think is a good childhood, for example.So for my own research, I began by doing

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    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: that desk-based research.I could look and I could read about the importanceof child-loving adults within the Hungarian context.And this gave me a kind of flavorof what it is that's going on and can bedone for any piece of research.But it's also possible and importantto be able to go and visit different cultural contextto try and get a real flavor of what it is

  • 07:15

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: that is happening within them.But here, I think there are a couple of issues.Often, study visits are short study visitsof maybe only a week.And we have to be aware that that week only gives usa very small window through which to look and understandthe different cultural context.So we can see a bit of what a kindergarten, for example,

  • 07:36

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: might be like, but we have to be mindful that oftenthat kindergarten is the one that a particular colleaguein the different country has chosen for us to look at.And that colleague might be temptedto tell us particular things that they think we want to hearor things that they want to tell usabout that particular cultural contextand that particular kindergarten.

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    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: So the window through which we lookand even a one-week study visit is again very small.My project was a little bit differentbecause I was spending 18 months livingin a different country trying to understandthe way in which they care for and educate young children.And this presented real challenges in terms of boundarycrossing between my own culture as a British person

  • 08:19

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: and the Hungarian culture in which I was living.What are the challenges of cross cultural research?Whilst living in Hungary, I was obviouslyfaced with the challenge of translation.So people at the start of my 18 monthswould have to translate what was going on for me,talk about what was there in front of me,tell me what children are saying,

  • 08:41

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: tell me what pedagogues were saying.And as I spoke a bit about already, there'sthat issue of literal translationand having to have those discussions about,so when you say teacher, do you mean teacher or do you meansomething slightly different?And is your understanding of teacher, the sameas my understanding of teacher?So when I was designing my questionnaireto go out to pedagogues in Hungary

  • 09:03

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: and to ask them about what are the knowledge skillsand attitude do you think are needed for workingwith young children, I had to havea long and lengthy discussions with the translatorto not just consider the literal translation,but to also think about the way in which terms might needto be explained or which they mightbe rephrased in order to reflect the Hungarian context

  • 09:25

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: in some way.This often meant that whilst I hadone word within the English questionnaire,when it got translated into Hungarian,that one word could become a whole sentence in orderto explain the particular meaning that was there.So the translation of words became a particular issuewithin my own research project, particularly because Hungarian

  • 09:46

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: isn't the easiest of languages to learnabout, let alone to grasp.But beyond the translation of the words,a real issue became the translation of concepts,and my research was grounded in concepts.It was grounded in exploring whatis the concept of a child-loving adultand what is the concept of child-centered within earlychildhood education and care within these different

  • 10:07

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: contexts.What I found was two things is that therewould be unofficial translations of what I was observing whenI was within kindergartens watching students learn howto work with young children.I found that colleagues and other pedagogues around mewanted to keep telling me about the importanceof child-loving adults to keep reinforcing what

  • 10:29

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: they saw as a cultural norm.Something that they took for granted but knewwas of interest to me, but somehow they couldn't quiteexplain what this term meant.As I was doing these observations more and more,I found people telling me about the importance of beingchild-centered, the importance of being a child-loving adult,but I found that nobody was really

  • 10:50

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: articulating what these two different terms meant.The other thing is that I startedto have to face my own assumptions about whatI thought these two different terms meant,particularly in regards to the idea of child-centeredness.Often people who work in early childhood education and carewill refer to the importance of being child-centered as if it's

  • 11:10

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: this kind of taken for granted that we all know how to be,how to do child-centered practice.But actually, as I was observing and peoplewere busy telling me, oh yes, the student'soffering a really good example of being child-centered there.I start to think, I'm not quite sure I agree.So for example, I'd been within Hungary for, I don't know,

  • 11:31

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: maybe three months or so, and I hadbeen observing weekly students within a trainingkindergarten learning how to work with young children.As part of their training, the studentsat the end of that week within the kindergartenwould sing a song.And the song was designed as a gift to the childrento say thank you for the time together.

  • 11:53

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: Now to start with, the way in which this was described to me,I thought that sounds lovely.That sounds really child-centered.The idea that we will give thanks to childrenfor time that we've had together.But then when I saw and observed the studentsgiving their thanks, I thought, this isn't child-centered.So children would be told to stop their free play.

  • 12:14

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: They would be told to come and sit on the carpetand listen to the children.There was no freedom of choice.They had to do this.There was no autonomy for the child involved.And this started to jar with my own conceptof child-centeredness.I thought children should be given freedom, given autonomy,to choose whether or not they came to listen to the song.

  • 12:35

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: And then, there was this moment where I suddenlyrealized that I was caught between two different worlds,two different cultures where the children were all toldto come and sit and listen.And as the student sang their song,I heard a number of pedagogues go, shhh, to the child.Be quiet.This is not your time to speak.

  • 12:55

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: Now we are being student-centered, notchild-centered, and I found this difficult to cope with.Observations.So my observations that I carried outwatching the students working with young childrenwere very much focused on this ideaof trying to unpick how students learn

  • 13:16

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: to work with young children.So following the observations, I would talk to themabout what I had observed.How did you know what to do?What was interesting in talking to the students wasthat it was very evident that they could identifywith this cultural norm that was present in Hungaryabout being a child-loving adult.They knew they had to be and become a child-loving adult.

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    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: But it was also evident that they didn't knowwhat this really looked like.They didn't know how they were really supposedto become a child-loving adult.And so, in talking to them, I realized that thiswasn't an articulated concept.That actually, once we use these terms,we don't necessarily know what is meant by them.

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    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: And what I've come to realize from this particular researchproject is that one, yes, it's important to talkabout translation when you're doinga piece of intercultural research.It's not just about those literal translationsof trying to find like for like wordsbut also about really exploring in depth whatwe mean by those words.

  • 14:21

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: Because what I say is child-centeredis not the same as what somebody in Hungary might sayis child-centered.I've also become aware that when we go on international studytrips, we have to be very conscious that if we arereliant on a translator, that translator couldbe imposing their own perspective on whatit is that they translate.

  • 14:41

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: So it could be their own particular research bias.It could be that they know that you are therelooking at child-loving adults, and so everything becomesabout child-loving adults.But it could also be that they've beento international conferences.They've heard people use these terms, such as child-centered,and so they just adopt them for themselves

  • 15:01

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: without really thinking about what they mean.And this idea of really thinking about termscomes back to one of the most important thingsabout intercultural research.Living in Hungary, my child goingto the kindergarten in Hungary, going to the market in Hungary,going to restaurants in Hungary, gave mea real sense of what it was like to be Hungarian.

  • 15:24

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: I'm not stupid enough to believe that I am Hungarian.The issue of language alone tells methat I am not Hungarian because my Hungarian abilities arestill very poor.But what I do have is a real understandingof what it's like to live in Hungary,how they treat children, the way in which they interactwith children, for example.

  • 15:44

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: And I can boundary cross between my own British heritageand this Hungarian culture to askquestions of different terms.So I can ask questions of what it means to be child-centered.I can say to somebody who's in Hungary,actually, I don't think that does reflecta child-loving adult. Because beingoutside of that Hungarian culture,

  • 16:06

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: I am wanting to ask questions.I'm interested to ask questions.The whole motivation for researching another cultureis because we want to ask questions of it.But I'm also aware that in asking those questions,some people might say, well, you just don't understandwhat it means to be Hungarian.

  • 16:26

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: And, therefore, there's the risk that someof my Hungarian colleagues, for example, might just say, well,we are child-centered.You just don't understand what we think child-centered is.So this comes back to this idea that wemust analyze our concepts in termsof what we mean when we're translating terms,but also, that when we're doing intercultural research,

  • 16:47

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: we also have to think about our own biases.My particular research project was framed by my researchinterests in quality early childhood education and careand, particularly, the role of peoplewho work with young children and howthey ensure that it is quality early childhoodeducation and care.Therefore, my research bias focused in

  • 17:08

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: on this particular issue.But that research bias was also cloudedby my own particular cultural perspectivethat I see the issue of working with young childrenis something that is contentious within the British context.Something that's framed by policy agendasrather than those who work with young children.So from the outset, I had labeled Hungary

  • 17:30

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: as being interesting and different and, therefore,worthy of going to research.And any person doing intercultural researchneeds to think about what is their bias that'sshaping why it is that you might chooseto go to Hungary or any other particular countryin the world.What we need to be thinking is, OK, what are my assumptionsand documenting those at the start of the piece of research.

  • 17:53

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: We should also be documenting how our assumptions havebeen challenged over the course of the piece of researchand talking to others within those different culturalcontexts about the concepts, about the terminology,to not necessarily come up with a shared understanding,but to at least provide an enriched understandingof those different terms and different contexts.

  • 18:15

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: ConclusionI believe there's a lot of benefitsto cross-cultural research.In my own particular context, therehas the long history of sharing ideason how to care for and educate young children.That sharing of ideas helps us to think about new ideas,helps practice to evolve, so that we're always

  • 18:38

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: striving to provide the best qualityearly childhood education and care for children in whichevercountry they might be in.In sharing those ideas, it allowsus to develop new ways of thinking.It enables us to challenge our own particular conceptions,and it allows things to keep moving forward.But in thinking about cross-cultural research,

  • 18:60

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: it is really important that we don't neglect the factthat it's not as easy to say, oh, that looks interesting.I'll just copy that here.Because the ideas that are in onecultural context will not necessarilytransfer to another cultural context.So our job as researchers is about unpickingthat cultural context, providing a heightened understanding

  • 19:20

    DR. VERITY CAMPBELL-BARR [continued]: of the cultural context, so that when we do share ideas,we can do so in an informed way discussing terminologyand discussing concepts in order to keep moving forwardto provide quality early childhood education and care.[MUSIC PLAYING]


Dr. Verity Campbell-Barr explores the challenges and benefits of conducting cross-cultural research in the field.

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Cross Cultural Research in the Training of Early Childhood Educators

Dr. Verity Campbell-Barr explores the challenges and benefits of conducting cross-cultural research in the field.

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