Fostering cultural sustainability in early childhood education through neighborhood projects
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionHu, A., & Ødemotland, S. (2021). Fostering cultural sustainability in early childhood education through a neighbourhood project. Sustainability, 13(9). 10.3390/su13095203
Culture is the life blood of a society, which influences people’s worldviews, values, and behaviours. Research has confirmed that children’s participation in culture helps develop thinking skills, builds self-esteem, and improves resilience. This paper aims to explore how a purposely designed project can foster cultural sustainability through a case study of a neighbourhood project conducted in Chinese and Norwegian kindergartens. A qualitative research methodology is utilised. Major data sources are an overall project plan prepared by one of the Norwegian university researchers, project descriptions and PowerPoint presentations from the kindergartens, as well as workshop notes taken by one researcher during the workshop, complemented and triangulated by the follow-up reflective narratives from three kindergartens. Qualitative content analysis and comparative analysis are used to analyse the collected data. Findings have indicated that kindergartens hold similar views on culture and cultural stainability. Though the actual activities are diverse and implemented in different ways, the goal of fostering cultural sustainability is achieved in all participating kindergartens. Children not only have gained knowledge of their neighbourhood and problem solving and social skills but also have developed sense of belonging and emotional link with their local culture through the active participation. More importantly, this study has indicated that purposely designed projects/activities can promote early childhood education for sustainability and quality of early childhood education. It is thus recommended cultivating student teachers’ and kindergarten teachers’ competence to design projects/activities integrating different dimensions of sustainability in early childhood teacher education.