Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: Postmodern Perspectives

Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: Postmodern Perspectives

Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: Postmodern Perspectives

Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: Postmodern Perspectives

Synopsis

Working with postmodern ideas, Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care questions the search to define and measure quality in the early childhood field, and its tendency to reduce philosophical issues of value to purely technical and managerial issues of expert knowledge and measurement. The authors argue that there are other ways than the 'discourse of quality' for understanding and evaluating early childhood pedagogical work, and relate these to alternative ways of understanding early childhood itself and the purposes of early childhood institutions.Taking a broad approach, the book relates issues of early childhood to the sociology of childhood, philosophy, ethics, political science and other fields, and to an analysis of the world we live in today. It places these issues in a global context and draws on work from Canada, Sweden and Italy, including the world famous nurseries in Reggio Emilia.

Excerpt

The project of Modernity came into focus during the eighteenth century. That project amounted to an extraordinary intellectual effort on the part of Enlightenment thinkers to develop objective science, universal morality and law and autonomous art… The idea was to use the accumulation of knowledge generated by many individuals working freely and creatively for the pursuit of human emancipation and the enrichment of human life. The scientific domination of nature promised freedom from scarcity… The development of rational forms of social organisation and rational modes of thought promised liberation from the irrationalities of myth, religion, superstition, release from the arbitrary use of power as well as from the dark side of human natures. Only through such a project could the universal, eternal and immutable qualities of all humanity be revealed… The Enlightenment project took it as axiomatic that there was only one answer to any one question. (Harvey, 1989:12, 27)

'Modernity' is both an historical period and a project that held sway during that period. Bauman (1993) defines the historical period of modernity as beginning in Western Europe in the seventeenth century with a series of profound social and intellectual transformations. It achieved its maturity as a cultural project in the growth of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and as a 'socially accomplished form of life' with the growth of industrial society. What Habermas (1983) calls the project of modernity had ambitious goals: progress, linear and continuous; truth, as the revelation of a 'knowable' world; and emancipation and freedom for the individual, socially, politically and culturally.

If the ambitions of the Age of the Enlightenment were high, this was because the means appeared to be at hand: the power of human reason and the application of uniquely rational procedures, in particular objective empirical scientific method, and the enormous potentials of technology and industrialization. It was these means that gave moderns the confidence that they could progress. With the help of these powerful tools, modernity has sought to transcend place, culture and particular historical experience, and abstract the individual from his or her context. The search has been certainty secured on the foundations of universal and knowable essences, properties, laws and explanations, foundations for an ordered world that were general, timeless, decontextualized, and constituted 'a universal canon of

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