A comparative study of work with literature
Aim: The aim of this study is to ascertain the similarities and differences between one Swedish and one English preschool, with a view to develop professional competence and skills in the teaching of language and literacy. The study uses comparative observation and interview questions to quantify those differences and similarities and to gain knowledge as to how professional practice might be improved in both settings. Method: Three staff members at each preschool were interviewed and asked what their work with language and literacy involved, and then what possibilities they could see to develop that work and finally what obstacles or problems they encountered. Once the interviews were transcribed and compared, the answers revealed several overlapping similarities and also some common difficulties as well as differences dependent purely on the specific preschool. Independent observation of the physical setting was also carried out at each preschool for comparison purposes. This included observation of relative size, situation, organisation, decoration, resources and staff numbers. Results: The results indicate that language and literacy development is central to both institutions, but their approaches to its introduction to the children varied. The Swedish preschool concentrated on inspiring the children to develop at their own rate, largely using a socio-cultural approach, where the English setting concentrated on progress toward milestones using more Piaget inspired, ‘stage’, thinking. Each setting had different strengths and weaknesses. Close analysis of the results can help the teaching profession in both countries to improve their situations, to gain ideas for more creative teaching of language and literacy, and to develop their professional practice.