Thursday 24th May Rethinking Early Childhood Education [3 Hours CTLE available]

Theme – Rethinking Early Childhood Education

Essential Question: Is it Time to Rethink Western Cultural Dominance in Early Childhood Education and Care?

3 Hours CTLE available

Keynote Speakers

4 -5.30pm

Dr. Elena Nitecki, Mercy College

Dr. Helge Wasmuth, Mercy College


Currently, the field of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) is experiencing new expectations and lasting changes. In many countries, the institutional early childhood experience has become much more academic – at the expense of play. Teacher-directed instruction has increased, while time spent on arts, music, and child-initiated activities has been reduced. New, more “rigorous” standards have been implemented and even very young children are now tested and assessed throughout the year often in great excess. ECEC is becoming increasingly affected by the damaging effects of what has been called the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM). This trend is viewed with concern. Many experts worry that such education policies do not reflect what is known about how young children learn best, and that these new curricula are not developmentally appropriate. 

We will discuss key features and the far-reaching, often disastrous effects and and unintended consequences of GERM’s western-centric, accountability-focused, and academic approach to teaching young children. We will illustrate the impact of GERM on our field by reference to three current initiatives: The Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Education 2030 agenda, the World Bank’s World Development Report, and OECD’s International Early Learning and Child Well-Being Study (IELS).


5.45 – 7.00 pm Essential Questions on Play in Early Years Education

Dr Sheena Hyland

Dr Meera Oke

In this workshop, we will explore our educational values and the question of play in the early years. This is an opportunity to reflect on essential questions related to play and education and to think about these connections in our teaching practice. We will look at issues concerning risk and safety in education and explore how we might think more productively about how these forces shape our practice.


Dr. Sheena Hyland is Lecturer in Education (Learning & Teaching) and Programme Co-Director of the Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching/Master of Arts in Learning and Teaching at the National College of Ireland. She holds a PhD in Philosophy from University College Dublin. Her research interests include educational assessment, internationalization, philosophy of education, and equity and diversity in higher education. Her current research explores the relationship between educational beliefs and assessment practice among faculty in Irish higher education. 

Dr. Meera Oke:

Meera has a PhD in Human Development from SNDT University, Mumbai, India. She is currently Programme Director and Lecturer in   Early Childhood Education, Learning and Teaching programmes at the National College of Ireland, Dublin. Her research interests and publications are in the areas of play, early childhood, outcomes of adoption, adolescence and well-being of educators. She is currently researching occurrence of burnout amongst Early Childhood practitioners and its relationship with areas of work life in Ireland.