Early Childhood Teacher Education: Historical Themes and Contemporary Issues

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Over the past decade, many states have increased their investment in prekindergarten (pre-K) school programs that serve 3- and 4-year-old children. This increase has raised questions about what constitutes a well-qualified early childhood teacher. Similar questions were raised in the late part of the nineteenth century when states began investing in kindergarten, then a new and unique idea on the educational landscape. This article situates contemporary issues in early childhood teacher education within the historical context of the kindergarten movement in the U.S. Focus is given to the following themes: (a) the relationship between legitimization via degree program and maintaining a unique early childhood identity, and (b) the relationship between evolving “best practices” discourses and the nature of early childhood teaching. The ways in which heightened awareness of historical themes in early childhood teacher education can inform contemporary early childhood teacher education are explored.

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Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, v. 31, issue 4, p. 391-405