Critical Pedagogy: A Useful Framework for Thinking about Early Childhood Curriculum

By Kilderry, Anna | Australian Journal of Early Childhood, December 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Critical Pedagogy: A Useful Framework for Thinking about Early Childhood Curriculum


Kilderry, Anna, Australian Journal of Early Childhood


Introduction

Early childhood curricular decision-making requires revisiting--the educational landscape is changing rapidly and the role of early childhood teaching is becoming more complex and demanding (Lovat, 2003). In this time of change, Cranston (1999) believes that teachers, like their students, will need to be prepared for rapidly changing and unpredictable environments. Among major changes affecting educational contexts are that places of education are often seen in economic terms (Edwards & Usher, 2000) and programs are judged for their cost-effectiveness (Lingard, Ladwig & Luke, 1998). Performance, known as 'performitivity' (Ball, 2000), is also an issue, whether talking about the children's academic performance or teacher performance (Maloney & Barblett, 2002; Sanguinetti, 2000). In this 'age of quality' (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 1999, p. 3) early childhood curriculum is subjected to many external pressures.

However, despite this bleak picture, there are now some interesting research developments taking place, altering the way we look at early childhood curriculum and pedagogy. (The term 'pedagogy' is defined as all the teaching and learning that occurs throughout the early childhood curriculum, and is used deliberately here to make connections to the wider curriculum discourse.) For example, Novinger and O'Brien (2003) question why early childhood teachers are subjected to 'largely irrelevant, fragmented, meaningless curriculum' (p. 4) and recommend that early childhood teachers 'engage in meaningful critiques of the status quo' (p. 4). This paper maintains that, as educational practice is so complex, there needs to be an equally complex variety of research methods and conceptual devices to view the subject in its many configurations (Labaree, 2003). This is where critical pedagogy can be of assistance to early childhood educators and researchers as a framework to critically examine early childhood curriculum.

Early childhood teachers, particularly in a nonmandatory curricular environment (this differs depending on the curricular regulations within each Australian state; see Walker [2004] for more details), are faced with ongoing curriculum decisions such as: 'What teaching and learning should be included in my program?', 'How do I make my pedagogical and content decisions?' and 'What curriculum philosophies promote inclusive and equitable practices?' Even if the early childhood teachers and practitioners are in a mandatory curricular environment, critical pedagogy can lead one to look at curricular frameworks in more expansive ways that can highlight dominant practices and beliefs.

Some of the significant and useful aspects of critical pedagogy for early childhood education will be outlined in this paper, and it will then address how this conceptual tool can be applied to amplify teaching decisions. Critical pedagogy as a conceptual device centres on highlighting and unravelling relevant issues within educational contexts, often honing in on the 'hidden' aspects of the curriculum in focus. To streamline the relevant concepts from critical pedagogy, this paper considers the 'what', the 'why' and the 'how' of critical pedagogy. Although this paper cannot fully explain critical pedagogy and all that it is intended to be, it will provide an overview of why this perspective is overdue as a framework from which to view both early childhood practice and research.

Critical pedagogy: The 'what'

Critical pedagogy is not a single concept and has variations in its definition. Critical pedagogy arose from the theoretical foundations of critical theory and has been applied to aspects of the curriculum in order to critique the social, political and equity issues within the classroom. Critical pedagogy offers a critical theoretical perspective to consider teaching and learning situations with the view that educational environments can advantage and disadvantage students (or children) by the way the educational setting is established and managed.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Critical Pedagogy: A Useful Framework for Thinking about Early Childhood Curriculum
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?