This paper introduces the Erasmus+ THRIECE (Teaching for Holistic, Relational and Inclusive Early Childhood Education) project, a transnational partnership between educators and universities in Ireland, Poland and Portugal that speaks against the prevailing neoliberalism in European education.
The holistic strand promotes constructivist approaches, challenging teacher-led education. The inclusive strand explores play as a meaningful context for children’s cultures. The relational strand incorporates approaches from Cognitive Analytic Therapy not previously used in education.
We span traditional theoretical borders, examining ‘good’ education through theories as diverse as those of Bronfenbrenner, Bourdieu, Bernstein, Bowlby and more, from psychological, sociological, pedagogical and philosophical perspectives.
We argue that interpretivist and critical/transformative paradigms can exist in complementarity, finding common ground between traditionally polarise discourses, conceptual frameworks, and creating a new, innovative lens for ECE. Using participant action research (PAR) methodology, we use multiple methods including observations, recordings, documentation and interviews.
THRIECE's ethics are reflected in its co-construction of knowledge, and promotion of self and critical awareness to support social change. Consent was received from all participants at the commencement of the project with commitment to seek additional ‘consent for use’ on an ongoing basis taking consideration of power balances, informed consent, confidentiality and respectful use and storage of materials. Ethical approval was received through Marino Institute of Education.
THRIECE identifies quality education as ‘holistic’, ‘inclusive’ and ‘relational’.
In challenging existing paradigms we provide a mechanism for realising holistic, inclusive and reflective relational practice within ECE settings and offer guidance on how this can be supported.