Social Status and Professional Development of Early Childhood and Preschool Teacher Profession: Sociological and Pedagogical Theoretical Frame

Social Status, Professional Development of Early Childhood and Preschool Teacher Profession

This paper theoretically and empirically deals with the relationship between the concepts of social status and professional development of early childhood and preschool teachers’ profession, while discussing the possibility of complementing two dominantly sociological and pedagogical traditions from which they derived. Low social status of early childhood and preschool teacher profession has not been significantly improved, neither in the context of continuous emerging of new professions in the late modernity, neither in the context of flourishing of different approaches to professional development. For this reason, we were interested in determining the attitudes of early childhood and preschool teachers about the position and relevance of their profession in our society, as well as whether there is a connection between the mentioned attitudes and early childhood and preschool teachers’ attitudes to professional development. We conducted a survey in December 2013 on the sample of N=270 early childhood and preschool teachers in the area
of Zagreb and Rijeka. The results showed that early childhood and preschool teachers believe they perform an extremely responsible job which is professionally and materially undermined in our society. However, the results also showed that there is a certain connection between positive cultures of educational institutions, professional development of early childhood and preschool teachers and their positive perception of the social status of early childhood and preschool teacher profession. This connection should be explored further since it opens a space for discussion about the possibilities in shifting the social status of the profession by implementing the action from below, in a micro-context.
Key words: early childhood and preschool education; early childhood and preschool
teacher’s perspective; early childhood and preschool teacher profession; professional
development; professionalism; social status