The challenge of teaching psychology in a program training kindergarten teachers

Standish, Jennifer
The University of Melbourne,

The Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies degree at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia is the direct descendant of a training course for Kindergarten teachers established in 1916. Throughout these years the course has maintained a strong emphasis on child development studies. At first the main influence was the educational philosophy of Friedrich Froebel, but a more scientific framework of developmental psychology was incorporated early.

The focus of the developmental psychology component of the course for kindergarten teachers has changed along with the changes in the field in general. Shifts have resulted from external influences such as changes in social conditions, attitudes to the importance of preschool education, government policies, the women's movement, educational technology and the effects of economic rationalism on the staffing of tertiary institutions.

There have been changes to the name and status of the institution offering this course and of the course itself. In it, over the years, the teaching of developmental psychology has alternated between the stage approach and the domain approach. The subjects have been delivered in small groups, in large lecture groups, and electronically. However, a constant has been the belief that the study of developmental and educational psychology is an essential component in the preparation for educational practice with young children.

The twenty-first century has brought further challenges for the teaching of psychology within this course following its revision to qualify graduates to teach in primary schools. To accommodate the increased curriculum content of the course the child development studies areas have been reduced. In order to provide the same depth and breadth of teaching of developmental and educational psychology further changes in methods and approaches are being initiated.