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Critical Examinations of Quality in Early Education and Care

Regulation, Disqualification, and Erasure

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Edited By Gaile S. Cannella, Michelle Salazar Pérez and I-Fang Lee

Quality rating systems discourses and practices are increasingly dominating early childhood care and education around the globe. These rating systems are constructed with the assumption that universally appropriate environments can be constructed for all those who are younger. This deterministic, ratings, and measurement oriented perspective is consistent with neoliberal discourses that privilege competition, accountability, consumer materialism, and notions such as human capital; this contemporary neoliberal condition does not support concern for the common good, democracy, equity, justice, or diversity (unless the support can facilitate new forms of capitalist gains). Ultimately, this is not a positive situation for those who are younger. The chapters in this book have two goals: (1) to provide the reader with an opportunity to engage with some of the specific problems that result from putting forward ‘quality’ as a dominant construct, and (2) to generate conversations and locations from diverse knowledges and multiple ways of being that could lead to the rethinking of quality, understandings of quality as a narrowing construct/practice, and/or going beyond (and outside of) notions of quality.
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Chapter Seven: Reconfiguring Quality: Experiment/t(h)ing with Quality as Matter in Norwegian Early Childhood Education and Care

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Reconfiguring Quality

Experiment/t(h)ing with Quality as Matter in Norwegian Early Childhood Education and Care

ANN MERETE OTTERSTAD, MARCELA MONTSERRAT FONSECA BUSTOS AND CAMILLA ELINE ANDERSEN



INTRODUCTION

In Norway, as in many geo-political locations, quality as construct is powerful and influential among the concepts that currently function as ‘leading stars’ for practices, policies and research concerning the future of early childhood education and care (ECEC).1 For example, quality is the key issue in policy documents concerned with the future of kindergartens in Norway. Governmental research funding has recently been offered to projects that explicitly aim to construct a more specific definition of quality in kindergartens by developing indicators that can assist politicians, local government, and kindergarten staff in how to work towards quality. There seems to be a race, and, simultaneously, a ‘tightening’ going on in Norwegian ECEC regarding what can pass as quality and hence, how to understand and put into practice the main goal for future kindergartens—that all kindergartens should be equal and of high quality (KD, 2012–2013, p. 8). We address this ‘tightening’ as we experience the situation as problematic, unproductive, and confining for processes that are concerned with a creation of a knowledge-practice for ECEC that, as is stated in policy documents, aims at ensuring all children a ‘good’ childhood with equal opportunities and social equalization (KD, 2008–2009, 2012–2013).

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