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The Capability Approach and Early Childhood Education Curricula

An Investigation into Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices


Antoanneta Potsi

This book explores the Capability Approach (CA) as an alternative critical lens through which to regard early childhood education (ECE) curricula. The CA framework is a counter narrative to the narrow instrumentalism that reduces education to a mere process of academic skills acquisition for a future workplace. Primarily the book draws on the example of the Greek case. Criticizing the «bit role» that the front-line implementers play in the curriculum design and planning procedure it argues that efficient curriculum development can only occur when a zymosis between the pedagogues’ beliefs, practical experience, and theoretical knowledge is accomplished. Evidence shows that beliefs define the educators’ practices into the pedagogical context. The issues discussed are unlikely to be confined to this country alone and will have resonances on other contexts.
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Early childhood education and care has come to the forefront of social policies in the past decades due to the increasing interest of scientists, policymakers, politicians, and economists. Strengthening early childhood education and care are regarded not only as approaches that help reconcile work and family life, but also promote the socio-economic integration of vulnerable groups in society. A short look at the results of well-known intervention studies with cost-benefit analyses such as the “Chicago Child–Parent Centres” (Reynolds, 1997), “High Scope Perry Preschool Program” (Schweinhart & Weikart, 1997), or “Carolina Abecedarian Projects” (Campbell et al, 2002) leave no room for doubt regarding the positive long-term effects of preschool programs on children’s cognitive and social development – especially for those living in poverty or at risk. The rationale behind public investment in such programmes is the expectation of a demonstrable and calculable return in the form of student performance, a quasi-contract in which preschools receive funding in exchange for delivering specified outcomes (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005). Influential international organizations such as UNESCO and the World Bank were also involved in public and academic discussions. Consequently, early childhood education and care programmes have grown more academically demanding over the last 20 years. As a bridge between the home and the school, early childhood education and care have come to be seen as serving a number of critical functions in chlidhood development, including preparation for academic learning, remediation for the effects of poverty, socialization, and academic training in itself.

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