Certainties and uncertainties : ethics and professional identities of early childhood educators

Thomas, Louise M. (2009) Certainties and uncertainties : ethics and professional identities of early childhood educators. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This study is an inquiry into the professional identity constructions of early childhood educators, where identity is conceptualised as social and contextual. Through a genealogical analysis of narratives of four Queensland early childhood teachers, the thesis renders as problematic universal and fixed notions of what it is to be an early childhood professional. The data are the four teachers’ professional life history narratives recounted through a series of conversational interviews with each participant. As they spoke about professionalism and ethics, these teachers struggled to locate themselves as professionals, as they drew on a number of dominant discourses available to them. These dominant discourses were located and mapped through analysis of the participants’ talk about relationships with parents, colleagues and authorities. Genealogical analysis enabled multiple readings of the ways in which the participants’ talk held together certainties and uncertainties, as they recounted their experiences and spoke of early childhood expertise, relational engagement and ethics. The thesis concludes with suggestions for ways to support early childhood teachers and pre-service teachers to both engage with and resist normative processes and expectations of professional identity construction. In so doing, multiple and contextual opportunities can be made available when it comes to being professional and ‘doing’ ethics. The thesis makes an argument for new possibilities for thinking and speaking professional identities that include both certainty and uncertainty, comfort and discomfort, and these seemingly oppositional terms are held together in tension, with an insistence that both are necessary and true. The use of provocations offers tools through which pre-service teachers, teachers and teacher educators can access new positions associated with certainties and uncertainties in professional identities. These new positions call for work that supports experiences of ‘de-comfort’ – that is, experiences that encourage early childhood educators to step away from the comfort zones that can become part of expertise, professional relationships and ethics embedded within normative representations of what it is to be an early childhood professional.

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ID Code: 27648
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Grieshaber, Susan & McArdle, Felicity
Keywords: identity, certainty, uncertainty, professional, ethics, early childhood education, teacher
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 Sep 2009 02:04
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:53

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