Critical Issues in Early Childhood Education

By Nicola Yelland | Go to book overview

9

Questioning diversity
Jeanette Rhedding-JonesThis chapter interrogates the concept of diversity, an important aspect of the postmodern condition. It argues that diversity, as a concept, should matter in contemporary society and the education systems that are embedded in them, and it should not be treated superficially, or in a tokenistic manner. Diversity is understood in various ways within early childhood education. We need to carefully consider how early childhood educators perceive diversity since it can have far-reaching implications for the ways in which we enact our professional lives. In this chapter the concept of diversity is made problematic. Various observations and recordings made in day care centers in North America and Europe are critically questioned in relation to the current issues. These contexts were observed when visiting children aged 2 to 5 years of age in care settings. The examples are chosen to create focal points for interrogation and to illustrate the ways in which diversity is enacted. The field notes and the references that are analyzed within this chapter have been arranged so that diversity is considered from a variety of perspectives within management discourses, to see how diversity may be encountered in early childhood education contexts. The chapter considers the ramifications of this and asks if the term diversity is still a term that is relevant in contemporary times. At the end of the chapter the implications for professionals in early childhood education are drawn together. The aims of the chapter are to do the following:
to show that diversity is a critical issue and, as such, the term needs to be carefully considered;
to assist readers to consider the ways they might deal with 'diversity' in early childhood education practice;
to question the practical and discursive positioning of early childhood education in relation to the wider discourses of diversity.

A political agenda for change is built into the chapter. For example, one critical issue is related to the integration of ethnic and linguistic 'minorities' in early

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