Contesting the relationship between early childhood and compulsory education


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presented at the TACTYC conference 'Ready for School? Research, Reflection and Debate', York, November 2011

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Contesting the relationship between early childhood and compulsory education

  1. 1. Reconceptualising the relationship between ECE and CSE The perspective of educational continuity York, 12 November 2011
  2. 2. Early Childhood and Compulsory Education: Reconceptualising the Relationship• Contesting Early Childhood Series, November 2012 (London: Routledge) Editor: Peter Moss• Contributors: John Bennett, Margaret Carr, Gunilla Dahlberg, Hildegard Gobeyn, Peder Haug, Sharon Lynn Kagan, Peter Moss, Nadine De Stercke and Michel Vandenbroeck• Arianna Lazzari and Lucia Balduzzi (University of Bologna)- Exploring the approach of educational continuity (continuità educativa) as an alternative to the ‘school readiness’ approach- Analysis framed by an historical and socio-cultural perspective with a specific pedagogical focus- Sources: policy documents, pedagogical literature, curricular guidelines and documentary sources
  3. 3. Radical rootsPolitical premises of educational continuity:- Pedagogical activism of the Sixties that gave origin to Municipal ECE institutions (Ciari, 1972; Malaguzzi, 1971)- Civil movements reclaiming social justice- Progressive teachers movements inspired by active education (Dewey, 1949) and popular pedagogy (Freinet, 1969) Traditional teaching methods are contested as they reproduce social inequalities (Scuola di Barbiana, 1967; Barbagli & Dei, 1969)
  4. 4. ‘Engaging with children from low social classesand engaging in politics are part of the samecommitment. It is not possible to becommitted to children who are affected byunfair laws and not to advocate for betterlaws.’ (Scuola di Barbiana, 1967; p. 93)
  5. 5. Local experimentalism The full-day school (tempo pieno) experimentation in Bologna (Ciari, 1968-69): - education as emancipatory experience - image of the child: competent human being and citizen subject of rights - holistic approach to children development - learning understood as a co-constructed process that takes place in social interaction - school understood as democraticcommunity (gestione sociale)
  6. 6. ECE as driving force shaping a new paradigm• Fully educational day VS traditional divide between schooling and after-school-care• Diversification of learning opportunities through project work (collective, small-group and individual moments) VS teaching instruction  knowledge co-construction VS transmission of de- contextualised knowledge• Collegiality VS isolation of teachers’ work• School as places for cultural transformation that welcome diversity in society VS school as normative institutions reproducing power hierarchies
  7. 7. ‘Such a project is based upon a new concept of education that overcome the closure in its temples, its [elitarian] selection and its inner divisions producing false culture. [The concept of education] is reformulated, reinvented within the dynamic relationship between a comprehensive time and a comprehensive space: in this way the process of learning and the process of educating […] become at the same timeresponsibility of each individual and of all individuals collectively – overcoming the rigidity of roles, the separation of institutions and the classification of individual destinies that has caused so much damage to school and education’ (Malaguzzi, 1971; p. 140).
  8. 8. The pedagogical debate on educational continuityThe approach of educational continuity took up a more specific pedagogical connotation following the findings of psychological studies: - children actively engage in interaction since birth and through these interactions their cognitive structures develop (Shaffer, 1977; Bruner, 1981) - importance of social and cultural environment (Bateson, 1972; Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Rogoff, 1984)- children’s development characterised by inter-personal and intrapersonal variations (Nelson, 1978; Gardner, 1983) children development should be sustained along a continuum that encompass individual variations
  9. 9. ‘It is therefore unfair to demandpsychology to draw a well definedpicture of children’s developmentarticulated in […] chronologicallyprecise phases so that schooling couldbe appropriately organised: it isprecisely the notion of“appropriateness” to be misleading […].Perhaps what is wished to be found inscientific knowledge is thelegitimisation of political andeducational choices that are de factothe result of historical and socialprocesses.’(Pontecorvo, 1986; p. 49)
  10. 10. Educational continuity: underlying principles• When children enter school they already use competently many symbolic languages that are an expression of many forms of intelligence > holistic approach to learning and trans-disciplinary approach to knowledge• Children competent use of symbolic languages is rooted in socio- cultural interaction (peers, adults, surrounding environment, cultural artefacts)• Teaching understood as a practice that actively promote children’s acquisitions by organising learning environments and sustaining children’s interaction• The goals of CSE are set starting from the knowledge and competence that children have already developed through previous experiences in ECE Contestation of school readiness approaches in which the goals of ECE are functional to CSE learning requirements
  11. 11. Consolidation of institutional practices• Equal dignity of educational action carried out at each school level• Elaboration of coherent formative pathways centred on the developmental needs of each child• Valuing the competence previously acquired by children• Documentation (discussion on children competences and confrontation of educational methodologies)• Parents’ involvement• Collegial work of teachers operating at different school levels (continuity project)
  12. 12. Recent policy developments under neoliberal influences• From educational values to economic necessity > from a pedagogical vision to instrumental purposes• Lack of consultation on educational reforms hindering experimentation• Schoolification of ECE: ‘Recent studies highlight that scuola dell’infanzia promotes the learning of fundamental behaviours and of initial knowledge which are useful for acquiring further competences and for relating with society’. [Atto di Indirizzo, 2009; p.9]
  13. 13. Whose knowledge and whosevoices are not being heard?
  14. 14. Arianna LazzariDipartimento di Scienze dell’Educazione