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Careers in Teaching and Education
Particularly over the last 10 years, research has
highlighted that children learn a great deal more
before they start school than previously thought.
ANDREW ETHERD reports.
Never too soon
to start learning
Dr Karina Davis says the capacity of young children to learn has been underestimated.
Early childhood education has for too
long been neglected. The Jesuit
motto 'Give me a child until he is
seven and I will give you the man',
founded on centuries of experience, is
belatedly gaining acceptance in
''Early childhood education is getting
increasing focus in Australia now,'' says
Frances Copilillo, associate director at
NMIT's Faculty of Further Education. ''We
are seeing an extension of kindergarten
and the requirement for kindergarten
teachers to be qualified.''
NMIT will be introducing a new
Bachelor of Education (Early Years) in
2011. ''The degree was developed in
response to our work in children's
services within NMIT, understanding that
there was a skill shortage in both early
education settings and primary school. It
is supported by the Victorian Institute of
Teaching and Early Childhood Australia.''
The new degree can be studied both
full and part time, Ms Copilillo says. ''This
degree will attract both the young
person exiting the VCE, and people
already working in the industry who
have a certificate or diploma in children's
services, but want to qualify as
kindergarten or primary school teachers.''
Early years education is based on
recent research, Dr Karina Davis says.
''Particularly over the last 10 years,
research has highlighted that children
learn a whole lot more before they start
school than had been realised.
''These early years programs recognise
how much we can be doing in supporting
families with children, from birth.''
Dr Davis will be head of program for
NMIT's Education (Early Years) degrees.
''When you think about the research
about pre-literacy and pre-numeracy,
there is a huge range of skills that are
bedded down in those early years ---
rhythm, repetition. Giving babies and
toddlers a variety of experiences is vitally
important for their later success in school.
We know that kids who miss out on that
do not do as well later.''
The capacity of young children to learn
has been underestimated, Dr Davis says.
''They are very curious about the world,
the idea that they are just sponges
soaking everything up has been largely
rejected. They are capable of
understanding sophisticated concepts,
and the way the world works, both
socially and intellectually. Not to say that
this is the same level of sophistication as
adults, but it is a high level that we don't
give kids credit for. They are keen
observers of the social world, with a
great amount of honesty and accuracy.
''What we take as our enormous
responsibility in delivering a program like
this is that the theory we are using must
have practical applications, and that the
students can go out and try the things we
teach, see how they work, and feed that
back to us.''
The four-year degree has multiple
entry and exit points, Dr Davis says. ''If
after two years, if people have to leave,
they leave with an associate degree.
After the third year they could leave with
a kindergarten qualification, and after
the fourth year they are accredited to be
a primary school teacher and early years
The next information session will be
held at 4pm on Thursday October 14, at
NMIT's Preston campus.
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