The need for a ‘local cultural project of childhood’ in NZ

In the afore-mentioned article, Moss writes: “Some years ago, I visited an Italian city with a rich experience in early childhood education. The head of the services in this city— not, as it happens, Reggio Emilia—described their work over 30 years as a ‘local cultural project of childhood’. This term has stayed with me, because it captures what democratic practice at its best and most active can mean and achieve in a local authority or commune or municipality. It captures that idea of political commitment, citizen participation and collective decision- making that may enable a community to take responsibility for its children and their education (in its broadest sense): responsibility not just for providing services but for how they are understood, for the purposes they serve in that community and for the pedagogical practice that goes on within them.” (11) He goes on:

“There are other ways of thinking about such local projects: as Utopian action or social experimentation or community research and action. What these terms all have in common is an idea of the commune creating a space for democratic enquiry and dialogue from which a collective view of the child and her relationship to the community is produced and local policy, practice and knowledge develops. This in turn is always open to democratic evaluation and new thinking.” (11)

How local cultural projects of childhood can be actively encouraged, what other conditions they need to flourish and what structures and processes may sustain them are all important subjects for research into democratic practice in early childhood education. Nor should we expect that these projects can happen in all local areas—you cannot legislate for them. But even where they do not happen, democratic practice can still play an important part at local government level. Local authorities should have an important role in interpreting national frameworks such as curricula documents. They can affirm the importance of democracy as a value, and they can support democracy in the nursery. They can also foster other conditions favourable to democracy: for example, actively building up collaboration between services—networks not markets; or providing a documentation archive, the importance of documentation in democratic practice being a theme discussed below.” (11) OUR GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO READ THIS ARTICLE!

Ref: 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

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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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