Pedagogy is understood as being embedded in the relationship between teaching and learning. How the teaching-learning relationship is understood, recognized and developed is important, especially in the case of cross-cultural educational reforms (Nyland & Alfayez 2012). Reforms to the Saudi Early Years curriculum are based on the American High/Scope Model and the idea of Developmentally Appropriate Practice: an attempt to move away from traditional (transmissive) methods of teaching towards a more child-centered approach. The Saudi Ministry of Education states ‘The aim of the self-learning approach is to allow the child to experiment and discover and do activities supported by teachers’ (MOE Educational Policy Document 446/21/1S24/10/2013). This definition seems to reflect empirical work on DAP which reveals that a balance between child-initiated and adult-initiated learning activities ‘is most effective in terms of cognitive, social and dispositional outcomes’ (Siraj-Blatchford & Sylva 2004, p: 154; Sirij-Blatchford 2009).In Saudi policy documents and the Teacher Guide Books the relationship between the teacher and the child is based on ‘direction and guidance’ (Saudi Teachers Guide Book,2014, pp: 61-2). Guidance is an educational skill of the teacher that is based on the religious and moral principles of Islam and the main pedagogical practice is to use the principle of the Prophet Mohammed as the Best Model. In Saudi Arabia the self-learning curriculum is thought to be child-centered but in reality Saudi pedagogy is very different to Western pedagogy, as a result the meaning of child-centered teaching and learning is literally lost in translation.
Adaylah Rajab, University of Hull, UK
Stream: Professional Concerns, Training and Development
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