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Re-situating Canadian Early Childhood Education


Edited By Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Larry Prochner

This book presents research exploring the potential for postfoundational theories to revitalize discussions in early childhood education. In the past two decades, postfoundation theories (e.g., postmodern, poststructural, feminist, postcolonial, etc.) have revolutionized the field of early childhood education, but at the same time, little has been written about the value and potential of this movement within the context of Canada. Postfoundational theories have the potential to disrupt normalizing early childhood education discourses that create and maintain social inequities, and to respect differences and diversities. Given the importance of diversity in Canada, it seems relevant to explore further how postfoundational theories might transform early childhood education.
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5 An Early Childhood Professional’s Authority: How Can It Be Used for Influencing and Instigating Action for Social Goods?Rachel Langford


How Can It Be Used for Influencing and Instigating Action for Social Goods?

Rachel Langford

It is often stated that an early childhood educator should not “be an expert” and it does seem reasonable to say that early childhood educators should not use expertise to assume authority and power over others. Rather, authority should be shared with others who are disempowered through educational processes (Novinger, O’Brien, & Sweigman, 2005). Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence (2007) articulated this position in their description of pedagogical work:

Such practice would not rely on “one best way” and the authority of the early childhood worker but would seek instead to bring multiple perspectives—of children, parents and others in the community—to the task of understanding or making meaning of pedagogical work with young children and engaging in on-going dialogue about what we want for our children. (p. 178)

Conversely, it is also reasonable to say that early childhood educators are both powerful and powerless. In this chapter, I explore this quandary of an early childhood educator’s authority as a professional in the classroom and in society. Drawing on a range of feminist educational philosophers and critical pedagogy and early childhood theorists as well as postfoundational researchers focusing on authority and teacher identity formation (e.g., Applebaum, 1999; Dahlberg & Moss, 2005; Hanrahan & Antony, 2005; Luke, 1996; Maher, 2001; Moss, 2006; Munro, 1998; Ryan & Ochsner, 1999), I examine a traditional understanding of authority within the classroom...

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