About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 8563-8571
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0948

Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain

A BURDEN FROM THE PAST: HOW DO VIETNAMESE TEACHERS PERCEIVE AND ENACT NEWLY ARRIVED WESTERN MODELS OF CHILD-CENTERED EDUCATION?

T.T.H. Phan

Ho Chi Minh City University of Education (VIETNAM)
As a response to fundamental changes in socio-economical context, a new preschool programme (NPP) adopted from western models has been piloting in Vietnam since early 2000s. Promoting a radical shift from traditional teacher-centered to child-centered education, the NPP greatly challenges Vietnamese teachers’ deeply rooted beliefs about adult superiority. This paper draws on a case study investigating how Vietnamese teachers perceive these educational principles and translate them into classroom practice.

The study argues that Vygotsky’s perspectives on the cultural-situatedness of the human mind offer powerful methodological tools to analyze development in teachers’ professional practice. Thus, in contrast to predominant positivist approaches to studying changes in teachers’ thinking and actions, this qualitative case study examined Vietnamese teachers’ perceptions and enactment of new educational principles within the country’s specific socio-historical context. Four classrooms were chosen for the study: head-teachers and teachers were interviewed; teaching plans and records were examined. In each classroom three-hour-observations of different teaching and learning episodes were recorded. A developmental approach to data generation and analysis allowed teachers’ perceptions of child-centeredness to be contrasted with their classroom practice. Also, findings from the four classrooms were triangulated with five early-childhood-experts’ perspectives on the implementations of child-centered principles in Vietnam.

Findings: Data raise interesting questions about how socio-historical factors play out in the implementation of child-centeredness in Vietnam. There was a high degree of agreement between the teachers in their perception of child-centeredness, what they associated with the informal atmosphere in classrooms, learning based on children’s interests and experiences, and respect for children’s voices and initiatives. The teachers preferred the child-centered model to the old practice and found the philosophy appropriate. Fresh practice evidence seems to be powerful enough to overcome effects of long-embedded Confucian traditions and old theoretical persuasion on the teachers’ thinking. Nevertheless, the teachers’ assessments of their implementation of child-centeredness were more optimistic than what was observed in the classrooms, where a range of problems was identified. Firstly, the implementation of child-centered principles was not consistent and stable. It seemed difficult for the teachers to reconcile a traditional emphasis on ‘usefulness in adults’ eyes’ and new ‘child-centeredness’. Secondly, observations showed that the teachers were uncertain how children’s freedom and autonomy can be brought together with the traditional image about a good child as a disciplined and obedient one.

The problematic reflection of child-centeredness in practice may have resulted from the interplay of many factors, but it is evident that particular Vietnamese cultural-historical traits strongly contradict implementation of this preschool model borrowed from outside. These findings suggest that to ensure the success of child-centered education in Vietnam measures should be taken to sharpen teachers’ understandings of child-centered principles and to locally appropriate the global model of early childhood education.
@InProceedings{PHAN2016ABU,
author = {Phan, T.T.H.},
title = {A BURDEN FROM THE PAST: HOW DO VIETNAMESE TEACHERS PERCEIVE AND ENACT NEWLY ARRIVED WESTERN MODELS OF CHILD-CENTERED EDUCATION?},
series = {9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2016 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-5895-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2016.0948},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2016.0948},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {8563-8571}}
TY - CONF
AU - T.T.H. Phan
TI - A BURDEN FROM THE PAST: HOW DO VIETNAMESE TEACHERS PERCEIVE AND ENACT NEWLY ARRIVED WESTERN MODELS OF CHILD-CENTERED EDUCATION?
SN - 978-84-617-5895-1/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2016.0948
PY - 2016
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2016
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2016 Proceedings
SP - 8563
EP - 8571
ER -
T.T.H. Phan (2016) A BURDEN FROM THE PAST: HOW DO VIETNAMESE TEACHERS PERCEIVE AND ENACT NEWLY ARRIVED WESTERN MODELS OF CHILD-CENTERED EDUCATION?, ICERI2016 Proceedings, pp. 8563-8571.
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