• February 7th, 2017


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Week 3 Application Assignment: What Have Others Done Before Me? Researching Historical Context
A child can’t go to school because her family can’t afford a pair of shoes; a mother doesn’t know where to turn when her toddler has yet to speak; a new teacher finds that her first-grade classroom is filled with children who speak six different languages—none of which she speaks herself.

As you know, these are not unrealistic situations. Each of the examples above connects with a larger issue, whether it is poverty, access to early intervention counseling and services, or changing demographics. Of equal importance is the fact that such issues do not develop overnight. In order to develop a plan to respond effectively to any challenge, early childhood professionals must understand the historical context, as well as the larger issues to which they relate. How did these challenges come about? What has been done to address these challenges in the past? What laws, policies, and theories have preceded current thinking?

This week, you will research the challenge you have chosen in order to better understand its historical context. Perhaps the challenge that resonates with you is overcoming child hunger in your community. What specific historical information can you find about hunger where you live? What services have been offered to children and families in the past? What historical information about child hunger in this country and the world might broaden and deepen your perspective and help you develop a response to the challenge in your community?

By searching out information from the past, you can increase your understanding of the breadth and depth of the challenge you have chosen to address. This knowledge will help you in the weeks to come as you examine the current context of your challenge, hone and revise your challenge and community of practice, and move on to developing your response.

In order to gain an understanding of the historical context about the challenge you have chosen, consider the related issue and search back in increments of time. For instance, you might review journals, newspaper archives, websites of organizations for information and insights dating back 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years.

Find at least three sources of information, and use the questions below to inspire and drive your research:
• Where in history did this challenge originate?
• Who has been affected by this challenge throughout history?
• When and where has it been talked about in history and why?
• What in history contributed to this challenge?
• Who were the powers brokers influencing this challenge over time?
• Were there any policies and laws (up until now) connected to this challenge? If so, explain.
• What, if any, were the barriers that kept this challenge from being resolved?
• Is there anything with regard to the way children and families were viewed that influenced this challenge? If so, what was it about those views that played a role?
• Who did not add their voices to this challenge? (Who was ignored? Who was afraid to speak out?)

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