Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education

Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education

Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education

Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education


The early childhood services of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy has gained worldwide interest and admiration. Drawing on the ¿euro~Reggio approach', and others, this book explores the ethical and political dimensions of early childhood services and argues the importance of these dimensions at a time when they are often reduced to technical and managerial projects, without informed consideration for what is best for the child.Extending and developing the ideas raised in Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Care and Education the successful team of authors make a wide range of complex material accessible to readers who may have little knowledge of the various important and relevant areas within philosophy, ethics, or politics, covering subjects such as: post-structural thinkers and their perspectives the history and practice of early childhood work in Reggio Emilia globalization, technological change, poverty, and environmental degradation ethical and political perspectives relevant to early childhood services from Foucault and Deleuze, to Beck, Bauman and Rose.This book presents essential ideas, theories and debates to an international audience. Those who would find this particularly useful are practitioners, trainers, students, researchers, policymakers and anyone with an interest in early childhood education.


Early childhood education and care have become a subject of public interest in recent years, in many countries and among influential international organisations. The subject is on the agenda today not only of those who work in the field but also of others who, until recently, have shown little interest, such as politicians, economists and businessmen and businesswomen. This heightened interest has converted into increasing levels of provision in many countries, part of a process of the institutionalisation of childhood.

In our view this expansion of early childhood education and care opens up new possibilities - for children, for families and for communities. We are not nostalgic for a past when early childhood was only lived in families. Institutionalisation of childhood can be a force for good. But, as Foucault reminds us, though not everything is bad everything is dangerous: expansion, therefore, brings new risks. One is that increasing institutionalisation of childhood may lead to greater and more effective governing of children. This may happen in particular when early childhood institutions are understood as enclosures for the effective application of technologies to produce predetermined and standardised outcomes - a very common way of thinking today.

Another related risk is that more provision will be accompanied by more uniformity and normalisation of thought and practice, as the early childhood field is increasingly dominated by one discourse. This discourse is Anglo-American in origin, first spoken in the English language though increasingly spoken in other languages. It is produced in a very specific context: a resurgent economic and political liberalism. It is informed by the discipline of developmental psychology and, more generally, adopts a positivistic and empirical-analytic paradigm.

What we term here the dominant early childhood discourse is inscribed with the assumptions and beliefs of modernity: for example, a

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