Why study the Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching at the University of Melbourne?

Choosing an early childhood teaching program plays a key role in the teacher you become. Here, we look at what makes a strong program and why Melbourne’s stands out.

woman and two kids enjoying in a garden

Viewed as active and informed citizens, young children are empowered to contribute to the life of local and global communities. Early childhood education has an important role to play here, building the foundation for learning and understanding that is relational, complex, and embedded in ordinary moments of the everyday.

This is reflected in the learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), which are that children:

  • Have a strong sense of identity
  • Are connected with and contribute to their world
  • Have a strong sense of wellbeing
  • Are confident and involved learners
  • Are effective communicators.

In Australia, there is also a responsibility to value and promote greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being, also set out in the EYLF as well as the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF), Australia’s Education and Care Services National Law, and the National Quality Framework.

Choosing a program that meets these commitments is important. Whether you’re seeking to enter the profession or to upgrade your qualifications to move into more senior positions (or, in Victoria, to meet the Department of Education and Training’s (DET) new requirements for bachelor-qualified teachers), finding a course that will equip you to make a difference to all children is, for many people, essential.

The University of Melbourne’s online Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching, which provides qualification for registration to teach from birth to age five, is a radical re-thinking of early childhood teaching.

Taught by internationally-recognised scholars at The Melbourne Graduate School of Education (ranked #1 in Australia and #12 in the world), the course foregrounds Indigenous Worldviews and sustainability, equipping teachers to support children to become active contributors of social change and sustainable communities

Unlike any program of its kind, local place is the connecting thread through the entire program. Teacher candidates are taught to incorporate different ways of knowing, being and doing into their practice that is respectful and inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and communities.

“Through this course, we are thinking about teaching in a very ethical and responsive way, in the context of Australia,” says course coordinator and Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood, Dr Jeanne Marie Iorio.

“In all of our subjects, it always comes back to place and understanding what it means to build relationship with local places and ways of knowing as well as build sustainable communities, which really are interconnected.” As non-Indigenous educators, this is a priority to begin coming alongside the voices and worldviews of Indigenous peoples.

The STEM Learning Ecologies subject, for example, which focuses on the importance of connecting with place, begins with students coming into relationship with Country themselves.

While the professional placement, which includes ten days in a community setting, is based on the cultural knowledge stories in the VEYLDF. This is shared by Dr Sue Atkinson, a Yorta Yorta woman, and Annette Sax, a Taungurung woman, and situates Indigenous knowledges as first in understanding how to practice as early childhood teachers.

Acknowledging the challenging topics and ideas in the program, its approach to mentorship is another point of difference. Focused on building authentic relationships, students taking the course will be assigned a staff member to work with them the entire year, providing them with a supportive space to explore the course content.

As Dr Iorio says: “In order for teacher candidates to really engage with this work they have to have a very strong supportive mentor who they can talk to about the subjects and course outcomes – which is foregrounding Indigenous worldviews and working towards sustainability.”

In another important shift from dominant narratives – and in line with priorities to develop ‘informed citizens’ – participants are taught to create teaching and learning experiences that see the child as a capable.

Teaching that views the child this way, recognises children as always contributing and capable while also making visible the important role early childhood has in social change, including environmental, social and cultural.

“We want to empower teacher candidates to view children as capable citizens who can have a voice in their local communities and engage with important issues,” says Dr Jayson Cooper, Lecturer in Early Childhood.

The program is also taught entirely online allowing study from home, and carefully devised by expert academics, learning designers and technology specialists is highly interactive. The course is also offered either part time or full time, over one or two years, so you can study alongside work or personal commitments.

With its unique focus on foregrounding Indigenous Worldview and sustainability, expert teachers and flexible online delivery, graduates of the University of Melbourne’s Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching can expect to become highly-qualified, culturally and socially responsible teachers.

To make a positive impact for all children and their communities, check out the program and apply now.

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