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Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education and Care—A Reader

Critical Questions, New Imaginaries and Social Activism, Second Edition

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Edited By Marianne N. Bloch, Beth Blue Swadener and Gaile S. Cannella

This second edition of Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education and CareA Reader: Critical Questions, New Imaginaries & Social Activism is a foundational text that presents contemporary theories, debates and political concerns regarding early education and child care around the globe. Chapter authors are leading contributors in discussions about critical early childhood studies over the past twenty-five years. The volume editors of  Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education and Care are long-time scholars in the reconceptualizing early childhood movement. Audiences include students in graduate courses focused on early childhood, early years, and primary education, critical childhood studies, critical curriculum studies and critical theories/perspectives. 

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Chapter Fifteen: Situated and Entangled Childhoods: Imagining and Materializing Children’s Common World Relations (Affrica Taylor)

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FIFTEEN

 

Situated and Entangled Childhoods: Imagining and Materializing Children’s Common World Relations

Affrica Taylor

Legacies and Responses

In the 21st century, the legacies of age-old romantic traditions that couple innocent children and pure nature (Rousseau, 1762/2003) and last-century normative theorizings about individual child development (Bredekamp, 1986) still hold traction in early childhood education. Indeed, it seems that in the increasingly competitive neoliberal educational environment, the primacy of individual child development has been intensified by standardized benchmarking practices and increased pressures for individual achievement. At the same time, growing sections of the community are reacting to this competitive environment by making nostalgic reference to the “good old days” when children were able to play outside “in nature.” They are expressing concern about the loss of childhood innocence and the disengagement of 21st-century digi-kids from the natural world (Louv, 2008; Childhood and Nature Network, n.d.). It is in the face of this conundrum of competitive and future-oriented as well as retrospective and protectionist early childhood education imaginaries, which seem so paradoxically at odds, that reconceptualists continue to challenge outdated normative assumptions about individual child development, as well as challenging the notion of the naturally innocent child that needs reuniting with nature.

From Shirley Kessler’s and Beth Blue Swadener’s (1992) original appeals for a reconceptualization of developmentally appropriate practice, and Gaile Cannella’s (1997) ground-breaking deconstructions of natural childhood innocence, through to Kerry Robinson’s (2013) recent queering of...

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