Mary McMullen


Where does your international research/engagement take place?
U.S., England, Hong Kong, and New Zealand

Please briefly describe your research/activity.
Researchers in England, U.S., Hong Kong, and New Zealand are working on a project titled, ‘Pedagogies of Care for One-Year-Olds in Four Cultures.’ Using a multi-layered, multi-vocal, video-cued ethnographic method, we examine Froebelian principles as interpreted in different parts of the world as embodiments of culture, transmission of culture by caregivers, and cultural meanings in curriculum for one-year-olds at micro, macro, and temporal levels in relation to people, contexts, and processes.

Why does your research/activity matter?
Across the world, increasing numbers infants and toddlers are in childcare programs as world economies and family financial stability depend increasingly on women with very young children being in the workforce. Whose minding the babies and how? Increasingly understood is the potential for learning from birth, and although infant and toddler pedagogy has flourished as a specialized area of practice in early childhood care and education settings, it remains a woefully under-researched area.

What led you to this research/activity?
Our team of researchers 'discovered' one another over the years at European Early Childhood Educational Research Association conferences. We came together over our common interest in children, birth to age 3-years, and began a collaboration that has lasted several years.

What problem do you hope this research/activity will solve/what are your hopes for this work?
As said above, too little is known about how to ensure the healthy overall growth, development, learning, and well-being of the increasingly large numbers infants and toddlers in early care and education programs. By working and learning together about how this is achieved in different parts of the world, we hope to pass on key learnings and help contextualize what we learn to promote culturally responsive and sustaining practices in one's own context and country.

How will your work create change for the better?
As indicated, we employ sociocultural and ecological theoretical perspectives to attend to cultural meanings, thus demonstrating, as researchers, it is possible to resist the positivist tendency to normalize and unify all children’s experiences and to maintain the integrity of diverse interpretations. We honor the voices of the children, their families, and the professionals who work with them in various cultural contexts in order to come to better understanding of culture in pedagogies of care.