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Communities of Learning in Early Childhood Education. Supporting reciprocal relationships with refugee parents.
Dr. Jens Hansen and Jo Perry
Dr. Jens Hansen and Jo Perry have consistently produced papers and delivered presentations about aspects of qualitative research for the past four years.  Jo was Director of the Early Childhood Education Centre at the Mangare Centre for Refugee Education in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand but now lectures in Early Childhood Education at the Manukau Institute of Technology.  Jens is a Director of the Woodhill Park Research Retreat and is also a supervisor of Jo's doctoral studies. 
By Dr. Jens Hansen and Jo Perry
Published on 10/14/2008

People create stories to explain and make sense of their environment and events within it.  In early childhood education, therefore, reflective practice and learning stories fulfil an important role.  This paper examines visual depictions of learning episodes within stories and how appreciation is deepened through photographic image de- and re-construction for subsequent in-depth analysis.  In the original project a series of photographs of early childhood ‘situations’ were presented twice to subjects for interpretation.  They were presented, first, as ‘gestalt’ images and accompanying written interpretations were obtained.  In the second showing, a visual grid was introduced over the same pictures.  This prompted subjects to pay much more attention to particulars, thus facilitating a deeper understanding of the photographs.  The visual grid, therefore, served as a powerful aid that enabled multiple observers to discern, distinguish and comment in greater detail upon a series of images.  In the second phase of this project, a series of photographs of their children engaged in activities in the Early Childhood centre, Centre for Refugee Education, were shown to refugee parents.  These parents were then asked to interpret what they saw.  The process was repeated with the children.  Finally the teachers added their interpretation of the events, thus forming a much more robust picture of the child’s learning event. 

It is contended that this piecing together of multiple perspectives with the accompanying value and honour given to the people who engage in them is a marked feature of the Community of Learning in the ECE at the CRE and that it has a marked effect on the relationships that form and the individual identities that are shared.  The full paper will be published in the CLESOL conference proceedings but a stand-alone PDF version of the paper can be accessed by clicking here.  In addition, a power point show of the presentation can be accessed by clicking here.