Date of Submission



Infants and toddlers are the fastest-growing group of children enrolled in early childhood education around the world. This thesis describes the work of infant and toddler specialist teacher educators in university-based early childhood teacher education in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. This thesis explores issues related to status, professionalisation, and the education of teachers, who work with infants and toddlers, and reflects the growing awareness of the importance of infant and toddler curriculum in teacher education programs. Conceptually the study is positioned within Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT). Findings showed that the participants in the study were involved in a series of enduring contradictions that continually frustrated the expansion of their object of activity as a collective subject, and in turn, their outcome in their activity system. Their object of activity in this activity system was to increase prominence, credibility, and acknowledgment of the needs of infant and toddler curriculum and pedagogy in early childhood teacher education, the aim being to gain their outcome, of high-quality care for infants and toddlers in extra-familial care and education in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Long-standing sociohistorical contradictions in the early childhood field impacted on their work. It argues these teacher educators engage in multiple forms of advocacy, in an effort to increase the recognition of the needs of infants and toddlers and to lift the status of educators who work with them. It contributes new knowledge about our understanding of the work of teacher education, and its own issues of status and de-professionalisation.


School of Education

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


279 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Education and Arts


Research Location