This study argues that time is a significant factor for the ways in which early years\ud education is conceptualised and experienced. Three time scales are shown to be\ud important. Firstly, the historical background to early years teaching is examined. In\ud particular, I argue that the way in which women have come to be seen as the most\ud appropriate teachers of young children has implications for how early years teaching is\ud perceived and experienced in the 1990's.\ud Secondly, the life history approach adopted by this study highlights the importance of\ud early years teachers' own histories. The biographical accounts of fourteen early years\ud teachers show how past experiences influence teachers' perceptions, understandings\ud and experiences of their work.\ud Thirdly, the particular time period, contemporary time, in which teachers live and work\ud is shown to influence the way in which early years teachers perceive and experience\ud their work. Of particular importance here are the recent educational reforms and the\ud ways in which early years teachers have responded to them. I examine the role that\ud early years teachers construct for themselves, a role shaped by the responsibility of\ud being children's first school educators, and argue that for many teachers this role\ud conflicts with current educational reforms
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