The videos, which were shot in 2004, are of Komatsudani Hoikuen (Daycare Center) in Kyoto, Japan; Daguan Youeryuan (Kindergarten) in Kunming, China; St. Timothy's Child Center, in Honolulu, Hawaii; Madoka Yochien (Kindergarten) in Tokyo, Japan; Sinanlu Youeryuan (Kindergarten) in Shanghai, China; and Alhambra Preschool in Phoenix, Arizona. The first three preschools are sites which we first filmed in 1984 for the original Preschool in Three Cultures Study. The other three are of preschools we selected for the new study to reflect new directions in each country's approach to early childhood education.
In this study, the videos function primarily as interviewing tools. We call this approach "video cued multivocal ethnography" (or the Preschool in Three Cultures method). In this method, it is the responses of informants to these images, rather than the images themselves, that are the core data of the study and the primary source of meaning.
By showing and discussing the videotapes with hundreds of preschool teachers and directors in each country, we were able to learn something about the variation to be found in each country's approach. The book Preschool in Three Cultures Revisited presents our analysis of teachers' reflections on their own and each others' cultural practices. The narration track of this video presents Chinese, Japanese, and U.S. teachers' reflections on key scenes in the videos.
A disclaimer: clearly no one preschool can be representative of the preschools of an entire city much less of an entire country. We do not claim that the preschools in these videos are representative, except in the sense that they are not unrepresentative. Each is an example of just one of the many kinds of preschools to be found in its country.
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