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Helping Teachers Name What They Know

by Margie Carter
September/October 2000
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/helping-teachers-name-what-they-know/5013518/

This past year I served on the thesis committee of a Pacific Oaks College graduate student who described using the ideas of Mary Belenky and her colleagues in Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind (Basic Books, 1986) to develop staff training for a new curriculum approach being implemented in her child care program. Deborah's application of Women's Ways of Knowing intrigued me because I have often thought that our early childhood workforce (with a few men occasionally sprinkled in) resembles the range of women that were part of the research project published in this landmark book.

Belenky and colleagues describe five stages that women experience in their developmental process of coming to be confident, competent learners:

n Silence. This stage is characterized by little awareness of intellectual capabilities. Learners have only begun to think about thinking; they do best with very concrete information.

n Received knowledge. Many learners stay in this stage with strong faith in authority and someone else's definition of the right way of doing things. They are typically buffeted by change and do not see themselves as growing and learning.

n Subjective knowledge. The shift to this stage is often the result of having someone who really listened to ...

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