Ages, stages, and educational institutions

Children are given different social roles and responsibilities based on their perceived level of social competence rather than their age. Yet in many industrialized nations the age of children underpins the way we organize preschool, childcare and schools. Before the 1800s, age was not a criterion for organizing people. Generally, people were unaware of their age, and age-related practices were not the norm. Rogoff argues that industrialization saw the systemization of people into specialized institutions according to age. She states that ‘Developmental psychiatry and paediatrics began at this time, along with old-age institutions and age-graded schools’.”[1]

Child development as presently conceptualized and enacted within many European heritage communities has become normalized and institutionalized within early childhood education. Ages and stages underpin this particular taken-for-granted practice, and the expectations within stages focus on those appropriate for western communities.”[2]

“The perspective taken by a caregiver or educator shapes how they respond to, think about, and plan for children.”[3]

“Educators look for and expect particular behaviours; when they are not forthcoming concern is expressed about the individual. An evolutionary view of child development is embedded within the institutionalized thinking of early childhood education in most European countries. Vygotsky (1998),” she continues, “argues for a … perspective of child development […as] a dialectical process ‘in which a transition from one stage to another is accomplished not along an evolutionary, but along a revolutionary path’. Vygotsky (1998) argues that a dialectical approach to development invites the pedagogue to be continually projecting learning beyond the child’s current capacities, but will do so in ways which connect with the child’s growing sense of themselves within their communities/institutions. This particular perspective encourages teachers to examine context as well as the children’s zones of proximal development when making judgements about children and when planning for learning.”[4]


[1] 130 Marilyn Fleer (2006) ‘The cultural construction of child development: creating institutional and cultural intersubjectivity’ International Journal of Early Years Education 14(2)June: 127-140    [2] 131 Marilyn Fleer (2006) ‘The cultural construction of child development: creating institutional and cultural intersubjectivity’ International Journal of Early Years Education 14(2)June: 127-140    [3] 131 Marilyn Fleer (2006) ‘The cultural construction of child development: creating institutional and cultural intersubjectivity’ International Journal of Early Years Education 14(2)June: 127-140    [4] 131 Marilyn Fleer (2006) ‘The cultural construction of child development: creating institutional and cultural intersubjectivity’ International Journal of Early Years Education 14(2)June: 127-140

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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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