Early Childhood places as democratic spaces

Peter Moss discusses the possibilities around opening educational institutions up as places, or forums, or spaces, or sites, of ethical and political practice – and, specifically, of democratic political practice.

Democratic political practice is not ‘inevitable’, as Moss discusses, but a choice that must be consciously made. It is a choice between envisioning ECE institutions as ‘democratic spaces’ / as a commodity to be sold/traded in a childcare market/as places of “technical practice: places where society can apply powerful human technologies to children to produce predetermined outcomes.” (6-7) Moss continues to say of such a market view  that “In this respect they form part of  what Allan Luke describes as an ‘internationally rampant vision of schooling, teaching and learning based solely on systemic efficacy at the measurable technical production of human capital’ (Luke 2005, p.12)”.

Moss highlights the lack of reference to democracy in the English (then) draft curriculum – and the 1500+ directive for teachers etc to demonstrate that the curriculum did not focus on democracy or on the creation of ECE institutions as political spaces for change. (Could the same be said of NZ curricula?). Rather, Moss explains, language like ‘quality’ and ‘outcomes’ are used to shape this curriculum (part of an Anglo-American discourse which explains is spreading globally, and which he describes as “inscribed with certain values: individual choice and competitiveness, certainty and universality” (7) as well as “inherently totalising” (7).)

Moss also presents an interesting discussion about the difference between ‘consumer’ and citizen’, drawing on the report in Britain’s democracy – the Power Inquiry (2006), which stated: “We do not believe that the consumer and the citizen are one and the same, as the new market-driven technocracy seems to assume. Consumers act as individuals, making decisions largely on how an issue will affect themselves and their families. Citizenship implies membership of a collective where decisions are taken not just in the interest of the individual but for the collective as a whole or for a significant part of that collective.” (p.169 in the Power Inquiry, quoted, p.9 in Moss)

He also raises the issue of time, which is worth returning to…

Moss, Peter (2007) ‘Bringing politics into the nursery: early childhood education as a democratic practice’ European Early Childhood Education Research Journal 15(1), 5-20

NB His article focuses on ECE (early childhood education), but could, he asserts, be as easily applied to any type of schooling…

Also NB In this article, Moss extends conversations begun elsewhere (e.g. Dahlberg, G. & Moss, P. (2005) Ethics and politics in early childhood education (London, RoutledgeFalmer AND Moss, P. (forthcoming 2007) Meetings across the paradigmatic divide, Educational Philosophy and Theory.)

He references the following, which look interesting!:

Beck, U. (1998) Democracy without enemies (Cambridge, Polity Press).

Cagliari, P., Barozzi, A. & Giudici, C. (2004) Thoughts, theories and experiences for an educational project with participation, Children in Europe, 6, 28–30.

Clark, A. (2005) Ways of seeing: using the Mosaic approach to listen to young children’s persepctives, in: A. Clark, A. T. Kjørholt & P. Moss (Eds) Beyond listening: children’s perspectives on early childhood services (Bristol, Policy Press), pp. 29–50.

Clark, A. & Moss, P. (2005) Spaces to play: more listening to young children using the Mosaic approach (London, National Children’s Bureau).

Clarke, J. (1998) Thriving on chaos? Managerialisation and the welfare state, in: J. Carter (Ed.) Postmodernity and the fragmentation of welfare (London, Routledge), pp. 171–186.

Dahlberg, G. & Moss, P. (2005) Ethics and politics in early childhood education (London, RoutledgeFalmer).

Dahlberg, G., Moss, P. & Pence, A. (1999) Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: postmodern perspectives (London, Falmer).

Foucault, M. (1988) in L. Kritzman (Ed.) Politics, Philosophy, Culture: interviews and other writings 1977–1984 (New York, Routledge).

Hoyuelos, A. (2004) A pedagogy of transgression, Children in Europe, 6, 6–7.

Luke, A. (2005) Curriculum, ethics, metanarrative: teaching and learning beyond the nation, in: Y. Nozaki, R. Openshaw & A. Luke (Eds) Struggles over difference: curriculum, texts, and pedagogy in the Asia–Pacific (Albany, SUNY Press), pp. 11–25.

Moss, P. (forthcoming 2007) Meetings across the paradigmatic divide, Educational Philosophy and Theory.

Power Inquiry (2006) The report of power: an independent inquiry into Britain’s democracy (London, The Power Inquiry).

Rinaldi, C. (2005) In dialogue with Reggio Emilia: listening, researching and learning (London, Routledge).

Rose, N. (1999) Powers of freedom: reframing political thought (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press).

Wagner, J. T. (2006) An outsider’s perspective: childhoods and early education in the Nordic countries, in: J. Einarsdottir & J. T. Wagner (Eds) Nordic childhoods and early education: philosophy, research, policy and practice in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden (Greenwich, CT, Information Age Publishing).

Yeatman, A. (1994) Postmodern revisionings of the political (London, Routledge).

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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One Response to Early Childhood places as democratic spaces

  1. Pingback: References to support a review of Te Whariki | LiteracyNZ

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