Teaching early childhood


Early education is the most important part of ones’ education since it is the first step in education. It greatly helps shape a persons’ take on life and general issues in the society. It is therefore very important that a teacher strives to make the lessons memorable and interesting. The teacher should greatly also try not to be a source of information, but much more like a friendly source of knowledge. This will make is easier for the child to capture what is being taught. Through the use of teaching aids, achieving the position of an ideal teacher is made partially possible. Photographs and illustrations are a great component of teaching aids. Through the use of visual imagery and metaphoric photography, the scope of focus of a photograph is made broad and some philosophical ideologies that cannot be captured in a photograph are captured.

The photographs below were randomly taken. They touch on several social issues such as pollution, family love and child neglecting among families. Through these images, the metaphorical imagery will be broadly explored with psychological arguments being based on the topics covered by the photograph. The topics will be of great relevance in depicting the understanding of critical pedagogy and the role of using photographic philosophy as an aid to teaching and specifically in early childhood education in Australia.

In image selection, it was relevant to consider several topics of national and global concern. The main social issues that influenced the selection were child neglect (image I), environmental pollution (image II) and global warming (image III)

Child Neglect

Image I: Child neglection in modern societies.

During the past few years, the number of street families, children homes and generally the number of abandoned children has gradually risen. Lamont (2010) argues that despite protecting children from child abuse, they also need to be protected from neglect. Many children’s deaths result from being neglected.  As an early childhood educator, it is of great importance to ensure the attitude of the student is not negative towards neglect children. The sense of responsibility also comes hand in hand with this sensitization. It is therefore from this point of view that the photograph of a neglected child standing a banner stating that neglected children feel invisible was taken.

The notion of invisibility of a neglected child is the fact that his/her parents have left him/her to face the world alone and relatively nobody cares about their well-being.  Many are the times when this child actually has to beg for money or even for food from passersby. This makes the kid have the idea that unless he/she attracts the attention of someone, nobody actually cares about them.  This photograph metaphorically advocates for the rights and plights of abandoned children. The child in the picture must not have necessarily been neglected but could also have posed for the photograph.

Through showing a class this photograph, the expected outcome is that the students’ attitude towards the plight of neglected children will change. The common attitude towards the situation of having neglected children is that they are responsible for their separation with their parents otherwise, their parents are.

Psychologically, it would be important to mentor the children so that even during their parenthood, they will have a sense of responsibility most importantly towards their children. (Stoddard & Wellman, 2011, p. 194)

Neglect is not only physical but also includes physical neglect. Some of the children in the class may even be suffering from this. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word neglect as “Fail to care for properly”. Failing to care for someone emotionally is what is termed as emotional neglect. Therefore, through this metaphoric photograph, one may choose quite a number of areas of child neglect to discuss with the students. It is, however, important to make any child who may be victim to any area of discussion not to feel stigmatised as this is not the objective of the lesson. The teacher should also try to offer assistance in a friendly manner to children who may be victims of neglect by any possible means.


Environmental pollution

Image II: The drawbacks of environmental pollution, especially around water bodies and coasts

This photograph shows a dead bird that has been dissected. The contents of the body are clearly revealed. The bird, which feeds on sediments in water bodies.  The bird must have been killed by feeding on too many plastic deposits in water bodies. In their book The healing forest in the post-crisis work with children, Berger and Lahad clearly explain the role of children in caring for the environment. The young people are definitely more energetic and free from prejudice. The most suitable caption for this image would be “If you don’t pick it up, they will”.

Through displaying this photograph to children, it no only sensitises them on the effects of pollution but also helps the develop a positive attitude towards environmental conservation. Pollution is not just when a big company emits clouds of fumes into the atmosphere but even when one drops a small piece of plastic paper, it definitely has adverse effects. Moreover, the effects of pollution may not necessarily be felt by us humans, but nature at large is affected. This attitude and level of information is the main motive behind using this as a teaching aid. Basically to metaphorically tell the kids that it is every person’s responsibility to conserve the environment.

Global Responsibility

In his book, “Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays”, Aberjhani & West (2003) state that diversity is an aspect of human existence that cannot be eradicated by terrorism or war or self-consuming hatred. It can only be conquered by recognising and claiming the wealth of values it represents for all. This is seen as a call for an appreciation of everyone as they are. Through the photograph below, metaphorically, one can draw ideas of global acceptance for all.

Image III: Our responsibility towards the world.

If this photograph was displayed in a classroom, the student may only see it as a person holding a globe, but through it, the ideas acquired from visual imagery and photographic psychology may be employed to illustrate to the students that each person has a responsibility towards achieving global cohesion.

If a household in Australia increased their monthly consumption to 1000 litres a month, for instance, nobody would sue them for the same. In addition, nobody would prove beyond reasonable doubt that the household contributed to a drought in a place as far as Africa. However, if every household increased their consumption by the same rate, the world would be uninhabitable. This calls for logical decision making and a sense of responsibility before taking any steps. This image may, therefore, be deemed as deeply metaphorical as it may be used to address multiple global issues such as global warming, racism, pollution among others.


In critical pedagogy, one must employ the art of creativity and use it to help the students develop critical consciousness. This is in the sense that students gain an in-depth understanding of the world and having a clear and positive point of view towards social issues. Through the illustrations made from the above photographs, it is evident that visual metaphors can be employed in early education. The main purpose of the same is to help students benefit from the use of visual aid in teaching on top of the use of literature.



Aberjhani, & West, S. L. (2003). Encyclopaedia of the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Facts On File, Inc.

Bailey, N., & Van Harken, E. (2014). Visual images as tools of teacher inquiry. Journal of Teacher Education, 65(3), 241-260.

Berger, R., & Lahad, M. (2013). The healing forest in post-crisis work with children: A nature and expressive arts programme for groups.

Carter, S. & Pitcher, R. (2010). Extended metaphors for pedagogy: Using sameness and difference. Teaching in Higher Education, 15(5), 579-589. DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2010.491904

Daniels, K. (2013). Supporting the development of positive dispositions and learner identities: an action research study into the impact and potential of developing photographic learning stories in the Early Years. Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 41(3), 300-315.

Lamont, A., Australian Institute of Family Studies, & National Child Protection Clearing House (Australia). (2010). Child deaths from abuse and neglect in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Stoddard, G. D., & Wellman, B. L. (2011). Child psychology. New York: Macmillan Co.



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