Critical Issues in Early Childhood Education

By Nicola Yelland | Go to book overview

15

Postmodernism, passion and
potential for future childhoods

Nicola Yelland and Anna Kilderry

The Enlightenment is dead, Marxism is dead, the working class movement is
dead… and the author does not feel very well either.

(Smith, cited in Harvey, 1989, p. 325, describing the condition of
postmodernity)


The postmodern context

We live in a postmodern world and the ideas and techniques of postmodernism are connected to our lives in dynamic and pluralistic ways. Some of these ways have been illustrated in the chapters in this book. Teaching in the postmodern era is characterized by change and uncertainty. Hargreaves, in fact, believes that 'We are living in a defining moment of educational history, when the world in which teachers do their work is changing profoundly, and the demographic composition of teaching is turning over dramatically' (2003, p. 2). We have attempted to outline some of the critical issues that are facing educators in the twenty-first century and illustrate the ways in which we might be able to deal with them from alternative frames and perspectives.

Although postmodernism and its supporters are often critiqued on the basis that they are 'Obsessed with deconstructing and de-legitimating every form of argument they encounter, they can end only in condemning their own validity claims to the point where nothing remains of any basis for reasoned action' (Harvey, 1989, p. 116), the perspective can also be considered as being vital for pulling apart, and perhaps rejecting the meta-narratives or dominant discourses that currently operate within education. Postmodernism with its versatile manifestations, and reactionary forms (or antiform as claimed by Hassan, cited in Harvey, 1989), enables educators to view their students and children, their teaching, the educational setting, and the greater social and cultural context in ways that they may not have considered before. Applying the same teaching techniques, and delivering or providing the same content

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