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Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Care and Education

Critical Questions, New Imaginaries and Social Activism: A Reader


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

Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Care and Education is a foundational text, which presents contemporary theories and debates about early education and child care in many nations. The authors selected are leading contributors in discussions about critical early childhood studies over the past twenty years; the editors are long-time scholars in the reconceptualizing early childhood movement. Audiences include students in graduate courses focused on early childhood and primary education, critical cultural studies of childhood, critical curriculum studies and critical theories that have been contested and debated and drawn from over the course of two decades.
The book is filled with recent scholarship by leading authors in the reconceptualization and rethinking of childhood studies and early childhood fields, who discuss foundational debates, new imaginaries in theory and practice and activist scholarship. A must-read for graduate students and professionals interested in beginning or continuing critical interrogations of current early childhood policy and reforms globally.
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Chapter Nineteen: Learning from the Margins: Early Childhood Imaginaries, “Normal Science,” and the Case for a Radical Reconceptualisation of Research and Practice



Learning from the Margins: Early Childhood Imaginaries, “Normal Science,” and the Case for a Radical Reconceptualisation of Research and Practice1

Mathias Urban

Policy discourses that frame “the sum total of the social reaction to the fact of ontogenetic postnatal development” as Siegried Bernfeld (1925, 1973) referred to education, reflect a fundamental dilemma: that education inevitably addresses both the child and the society, leading to often contradictory aims, aspirations, and in consequence, practices. European Union policy references to early childhood education and care, since the early 1990s, have reflected these contractions. The recent EU strategic framework, “Europe 2020: A Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth” (European Commission, 2010) provides a bleak analysis of the situation the EU finds itself in at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century. Without explicitly mentioning it, the description of the economic, social, demographic, and environmental crises facing Europe in a global context resembles the “complex intersolidarity of problems, antagonisms, crises, uncontrolled processes, and the general crisis of the planet” that Edgar Morin identifies in his 1999 manifesto for the new millennium (Morin & Kern, 1999). The need to “resolve” those crises is the underlying narrative in this framework, and a key role is given to early childhood education and care in a set of policy measures to “put Europe back on track” (European Commission, 2010). Starting from what appears to be a paradigm shift in recent EU policies toward young children, the...

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