QUALITY OF RELATIONSHIPS AS A FOUNDATION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE
, A. Golubić2
1University of Zagreb. Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (CROATIA)
2Kindergarten Limač (CROATIA)
The goal of modern education is not the formation of “minions” who lack their own opinions, attitudes, and self-esteem but rather the development of active, responsible, and initiative persons who can find their way around the complex world they are living in and even make it better. A high quality educational process should enable children to develop their own power of judgment, independence, readiness for cooperation, and tolerance, instead of expecting them to suppress their own needs and pander to the authority of adults. The organization of such an educational process does not focus on the monitoring, i.e. excessive control but on encouraging the child’s independent and critical thinking, which can be achieved by encouraging him/her to think, question, and make his/her own judgments and decisions. Accordingly, educational institutions are faced with the challenge of ensuring conditions that can enable children to learn self-control and self-discipline and to teach themselves to think, solve problems, and manage their time. The child becomes a critical co-investigator in the dialogue with the teachers rather than a receptive and passive consumer of the learning content.
In this regard, we carried out action research with which we tried to explore and gradually improve the quality of the relationship between teachers and children, but also the overall quality of the educational process in the educational institution. The research involved four educational institutions, which, based on their characteristics and pace of development, greatly differed from one another. The research team consisted of the researcher from the Faculty and co-researchers, i.e. a pedagogist and teacher from the educational institutions. The research lasted three years, and in some institutions it is still ongoing.
Since we hold the view that different structures of the educational institution (spatial and material, organizational and social are a kind of objectification of beliefs, attitudes, and values of teachers, most attention was focused precisely on a better understanding and gradual change of implicit attitudes and beliefs of teachers. Given the nature of the selected research, we could only formulate general research questions and then gradually modify and supplement them.
The research has shown that changing all of the above structures of the educational institution (physical environment, time management, collaborative relationships) directly correlates with changes in attitudes and beliefs of teachers, i.e. that changing the attitudes of teachers is in direct relation to the development of all structures leading to an improved educational practice, recognizable by quality relationships with children. However, the development of quality educational practice represents both the cause and consequence of changing these structures. Teachers’ beliefs are the filter that determines the perception of children and their own relationship with them, but at the same time it determines the way in which the teacher designs institutional environment and the entire educational process.