Early childhood practitioners’ insights on professionalism: Views from Indonesia
Understanding early childhood teachers’ perspectives on professionalism is important because the notion of professionalism in early childhood is contextual and varies according to location and cultural backgrounds. Despite numerous studies on early childhood teachers’ insights on professionalism, no investigation has yet existed regarding unique environments of Indonesia. Thus this study examines Indonesian early childhood practitioners’ insights about the notion of professionalism and what constitutes the characteristics of a professional early childhood teacher. This study adopted a phenomenological method to be able to conduct an in-depth exploration of teachers’ experience and their insights about professionalism. The participants for this study were 21 kindergarten and playgroup teachers who had experienced intermediate level training in the national programme for up-skilling in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Teachers in this study considered professionalism as a journey toward an improved state at both the pedagogical level at their actual early childhood centre and the personal level of self-improvement as a role model. The study argues that these two outputs of the journey were like parallel tracks; that lead towards improvement in both teaching performance and personal qualities. The outcome of the first track is tangible in each day of teaching performance, while the outcomes of the second track are experienced one’s entire career, or even an entire life. This echoes Urban and Dalli (2012) conclusion that being professional cannot separate the “nature of practice, thinking about practice, and thinking about oneself in this practice – making the boundaries between doing, knowing and being blurred or non-existent” (p.161). This sense of understanding professionalism as collections of interrelated actions towards an overall goal underpinned the attitudes of the teachers in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.