J. Karbowniczek, M. Kwaśniewska, B. Surma The Basics of Preschool Pedagogy with Methodology Jesuit Publishing Hous WAM, Kraków 2011, 392 pages

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Summary

A reform of educational system, that was enacted in 1999, introduced a number of changes in the functioning of the Polish education. Initially, the reform mainly referred to the transformation from a two-level system of education to a three-level structure. It also referred to preschool education, emphasising the compulsory one-year preschool foundation for every 6-year-old child. An amendment introduced in 2009 again inquenced pre-school education. The lowering of the school-age resulted in several changes in the organisation and functioning of kindergartens and nurseries. Pre-school education teachers now pnd themselves in a new situation, which may create some dioculties, concerns and questions. Numerous publications on preschool pedagogy may be helpful for the teacher’s continual professional development. One of these publications is the book entitled The Basics of Preschool Pedagogy with Methodology. Why is it worth reading a book relating to this subject matter? The book has been written by professionals, people who have direct contact with children, teachers and kindergarten student teachers. Professor J. Karbowniczek is a pedagogue specializing in early childhood education. M. Kwaśniewska, PhD is inter alia an author of educational programmes and books for children. While B. Surma, PhD specialises in the pedagogy of M. Montessori. Through their publication, the authors have joined in “the discussion about contemporary problems of preschool education. They have attempted to present their theoretical and methodical point of view on not only recent achievements. but also on the present challenges in this peld.” (see p. 7). The launched publication has a synthetic character. However, it contains a compendium of knowledge concerning preschool pedagogy that is much needed for students and teachers. The authors have aptly combined historical knowledge with the contemporary period, presenting changes in upbringing, education and preschool pedagogy teaching programmes. While reading the publication, we can familiarise ourselves with the views and concepts concerning child upbringing of such distinguished pgures, such as Plato, Aristotle, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Mikołaj Rej, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, and John Dewey. The contemporary representatives of preschool pedagogy have also been mentioned along with their interests and the type of research they are involved in. J. Karbowniczek has undertaken a diocult task to familiarise the reader with the most important events directly or indirectly connected with the upbringing and education of kindergarten-age children (see p. 60). Although the historical dates, which are presented in the chronological order, will depnitely not exhaust the discussed subject, they provide general knowledge as well as an opportunity to think about and form personal thoughts and opinions concerning changes in preschool education. The tendencies in preschool education programmes have also been presented from the historical point of view. Apart from the historical facts, readers may be interested to learn more about the present state of pre-school education in Poland. According to M. Kwaśniewska, we can observe paradigmatic transformations that general pedagogy in Poland is currently undergoing. These transformations refer to the change from the technological orientation to the humanistic alternative, which is also reqected in preschool pedagogy. This peculiar bi-paradigm of preschool pedagogy may become its new integral value leading to educational pluralism. Pluralism, on the other hand, assumes “consent for the variety of theoretical approaches and subsequent various practical applications of the educational process.” (p. 104). The section prepared by B. Surma complements the historical and contemporary knowledge of pre-school education. Parents interested in their children’s education will pnd here information concerning the division of preschool institutions as well as the way in which space should be organised in these institutions. From these book sections, they will  familiarise themselves with a kindergarten’s functions, the various waysin which they can be applied, as well as the appearance of the classroom, cloakroom, sanitary rooms, garden and the kindergarten building (p. 189–214). Parents will also pnd synthetic information concerning M. Montessori preschool education institutions. A parent acquainted with this kind of knowledge will be able to make a more conscious choice concerning the future kindergarten for their child. While a teacher, owing to the sections by B. Surma will pnd them useful when composing general kindergarten daily schedules. The author notices, however, that the exact daily schedule depends on the opening hours of a kindergarten or another form of preschool education institution, as well as on homogeneous- age group division or or mixed-age groups (p. 205). The greatest strength of the book is the methodology that it employs. The authors have professionally and competently combined theoretical knowledge with its practical application, which is essential for an inexperienced teacher today. The methodology of preschool education can be found in the following sections of the book:

• Teaching Methods – the authors have not only contained the description of their various typologies but have also characterized chosen activating methods applied in kindergartens. They have provided a compendium of knowledge relating to innovative methods, which can be applied by teachers in the course of preschool education.

• Teachers’ Pre-school Education Programmes – it contains a description of the requirements that such a programme should fulpl, as well as its planning procedure. The programmes awarded and distinguished by MEN (Polish National Ministry of Education) in “The Best Preschool Education Programme” contest have been mentioned. They may be an inspiration for teachers’ individual work. • The Structure of Monthly Plans of the Educational Process – it contains information concerning the criteria, contents and the structural requirements a correctly constructed plan has to fulpl.