Facilitating the development of critical thinking skills and self-directed learning: An exploration of leadership and curriculum practice in a Palestinian kindergarten.

Thesis


Khalaily, Maysoon. 2017. Facilitating the development of critical thinking skills and self-directed learning: An exploration of leadership and curriculum practice in a Palestinian kindergarten. Thesis
AuthorsKhalaily, Maysoon.
Abstract

Abstract Developing critical thinking in early childhood is vital especially in Western culture since it improves an individual’s skills in creative thinking and enhances a person’s sense of responsibility. This is the fundamental contention of this thesis. These skills assist in developing and implementing a state of mind of not accepting negative situations and instead directs the individual towards trying to resolve and improve it. These issues have not yet been fully explored in Arab-Palestinian society in Israel. The development and application of notions of personal responsibility, critical thinking, and kindergarten-age children’s involvement in learning has yet to emerge as a reality in this community. This is needed because existing theory and practice involving these aspects of learning within the Palestinian system is problematic. Moreover, the development of a new approach to teaching and parenting of kindergarten-age children that fosters critical thinking and personal responsibility may not be a reality that is immediately achievable, but it is a possibility. This study aims to investigate how educational leaders can help kindergarten children aged 3-5 years to develop critical thinking and personal responsibility skills. The research focuses on Arab (Palestinian) children in Israel as these skills are not traditionally taught in the home or in educational settings in this culture. The literature shows that there is a marked disparity between the educational achievements of Arab and Jewish children in Israel, making the implications of this study salient not only to practitioners, but also to policymakers and educational institutions. In order to examine these goals, a case study involving qualitative research approaches of a kindergarten classroom has been conducted. The context of this study is an important and complex set of factors determining and shaping the content and form of the thesis and of the research that is embodied in the text. This study has been conducted in a kindergarten belonging to an Arab Municipality located in Northern Israel that was established in 2010 and is situated in a rural area in the north of the country. Lesson plans following the National Curriculum for Kindergarten Education were infused with teaching activities designed to facilitate the acquisition of critical thinking skills. The findings of the project showed that the presence of a strong educational leader had a positive impact on facilitating kindergarten children’s development of personal responsibility and critical thinking skills. This was especially the case if the leader played an active role in facilitating a learning environment at home and in school in which children were acknowledged and given greater autonomy and access to opportunities in which they could engage openly with parents and peers. This study calls attention to the need to further explore educational leadership in the context of early childhood education, as its implications for childhood development, particularly regarding critical thinking and personal responsibility, have not been sufficiently examined. This study claims to open possibilities for doing this in at least the Palestinian Kindergarten communities in Israel and perhaps beyond.

Abstract
Developing critical thinking in early childhood is vital especially in Western culture since
it improves an individual’s skills in creative thinking and enhances a person’s sense of
responsibility. This is the fundamental contention of this thesis. These skills assist in
developing and implementing a state of mind of not accepting negative situations and
instead directs the individual towards trying to resolve and improve it. These issues have
not yet been fully explored in Arab-Palestinian society in Israel. The development and
application of notions of personal responsibility, critical thinking, and kindergarten-age
children’s involvement in learning has yet to emerge as a reality in this community. This
is needed because existing theory and practice involving these aspects of learning within
the Palestinian system is problematic. Moreover, the development of a new approach to
teaching and parenting of kindergarten-age children that fosters critical thinking and personal
responsibility may not be a reality that is immediately achievable, but it is a possibility.
This study aims to investigate how educational leaders can help kindergarten children
aged 3-5 years to develop critical thinking and personal responsibility skills. The research
focuses on Arab (Palestinian) children in Israel as these skills are not traditionally taught
in the home or in educational settings in this culture. The literature shows that there is a
marked disparity between the educational achievements of Arab and Jewish children in
Israel, making the implications of this study salient not only to practitioners, but also to
policymakers and educational institutions.
In order to examine these goals, a case study involving qualitative research approaches of
a kindergarten classroom has been conducted. The context of this study is an important and
complex set of factors determining and shaping the content and form of the thesis and of
the research that is embodied in the text. This study has been conducted in a kindergarten
belonging to an Arab Municipality located in Northern Israel that was established in 2010
and is situated in a rural area in the north of the country. Lesson plans following the National
Curriculum for Kindergarten Education were infused with teaching activities designed to
facilitate the acquisition of critical thinking skills.
The findings of the project showed that the presence of a strong educational leader had a
positive impact on facilitating kindergarten children’s development of personal responsibility
and critical thinking skills. This was especially the case if the leader played an active
role in facilitating a learning environment at home and in school in which children were
acknowledged and given greater autonomy and access to opportunities in which they could
engage openly with parents and peers. This study calls attention to the need to further explore
educational leadership in the context of early childhood education, as its implications for
childhood development, particularly regarding critical thinking and personal responsibility,
have not been sufficiently examined. This study claims to open possibilities for doing this in
at least the Palestinian Kindergarten communities in Israel and perhaps beyond.

KeywordsSelf-directed learning; Critical Thinking; Leaderhip; Early years
Year2017
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/622009
hdl:10545/622009
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Publication process dates
Deposited14 Dec 2017, 15:58
Publication dates03 Dec 2017
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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