DEVELOPING THE CURRICULUM
In Chapters 1 and 2, we outlined a vision of effective early years education. Among other things, we agreed that it is related to skill in interpersonal relationships, to patience, to having a good store of activities to hand, to diligence, love and care. However desirable such qualities are, they do not define effective early years education. That depends on two further areas of expertise. On the one hand, practitioners need to be guided by understandings of children, both as learners and as social beings who are mastering new contexts, new conventions. They need to be alert to children's selfesteem, and sense of efficacy; to the variety of teaching roles, actions and to the underlying knowledge bases; and they need to be skilled at task planning and assessment. Skilful development of learning environments and alertness to the complexities of learning are also called for. Yet learning is not ae empty concept Therefore, on the other hand, we need a view of what children learn, which in turn implies a view of how they learn. We have argued that the scope of early years education might be broader and more purposeful than has sometimes been acknowledged; and that the national curriculum offers no bad framework for curriculum planning, always given that the job is not to force content upon children in ways that destroy existing notions of good ways of working with young children. The job is to make the curriculum accessible to children and, by making it real and relevant, to blur the false distinction between child-centredness and curriculum-centredness.
Taken together, these claims amount to a definition of early years education. We have replaced some common but limited beliefs about good practice by arguing that they are essentially inadequate: fine as far as they go, but that they don't go nearly far enough. One consequence of our stance is that early years professionals are faced with a substantial job of curriculum development (this chapter) and organizational thinking (next