1970s: Children’s Centre movement in England Problem: split and under-funded system; services fragmented, unresponsive & far too few Aim of the movement: to develop a ‘popular and effective’ service for all children 0-5 and families: o Serve small local catchment areas o Planned and supervised by one authority o Multi-purpose, responding to needs of local communities o Available on demand o Free
Children’s Centre movement Solution: Integrated, responsive, multi- purpose ‘Children’s Centres’ for all children and families...a holistic community serviceOur criteria suggest that the basic form of service should be through multi-purpose children’s centres offering part and full-time care with medical and other services, to a very local catchment area, but there is much room for experimentation (Tizard, Moss and Perry, 1976)
Image of the EC centre Children’s Centre is basis for my image of what the EC centre can be Common images today = parking space (for children) OR factory producing predefined outcomes OR business selling a commodity (e.g. ‘childcare’) to parent-consumers My image = public space or forum...a place of encounter for all citizens (children & adults)...a collaborative workshop for communities with the potential for many purposes and projects – some predefined, others not...
Many purposes and projects of the EC centre might include: Constructing knowledge, identities, values Providing family support Building community solidarity Sustaining cultures and languages Developing economy (including ‘childcare’) Promoting gender and other equalities Practicing democracy and active citizenship Resisting exclusion and other injustices (Add your purposes and projects)
1990s: The problem with ‘quality’Quality in early childhood services is aconstructed concept, subjective in nature andbased on values, beliefs and interest, ratherthan an objective and universal reality (Moss& Pence, 1994)If quality is a relative conceptIf the process of defining quality should beparticipatory and democraticThen definitions of ‘quality’ will differ – due tomultiple perspectives
1990s: The problem with ‘quality’Q: Can the concept of ‘quality’ accommodatediversity of values, beliefs and interests? Canyou have multiple definitions of ‘quality’?A: No. If value diversity, need to get ‘beyondquality’...find another language to talk aboutECCE
2000s: Ethics and politics in ECCE Today ECCE is first and foremost a technical practice – seeking one right universal answer from experts, but... ECCE is first and foremost a political and ethical practice Political practice because ECCE should start from political questions – ‘not mere technical issues to be solved by experts...[but questions that] always involve decisions which require us to make choices between conflicting alternatives’ (Chantal Mouffe).
Some political questions What kind of world do we want? What do we want for our children? What is ECCE for? What is our image of the child? The EC centre? The EC educator? What values? What ethics? What paradigm? What theories? What do we mean by ‘education’ and by ‘care’? What is knowledge? How do we learn?
Democracy as a fundamental valueDemocracy is multi-dimensional concept: representative andprocedural...but also participatory and everyday[Democracy is] primarily a mode of associated living embeddedin the culture and social relationships of everyday life[Democracy is] a way of personal life controlled not merely byfaith in human nature in general but by faith in the capacity ofhuman beings for intelligent judgment and action if properconditions are furnished[Democracy] must be reborn in each generation and educationis the midwife (John Dewey)Democracy in ECCE : decision-making; curriculum; learning;evaluation; deciding projects etc etc
2000s: Ethics and politics in ECCE Ethical practice because education is a relational field – we need ethical basis for the relationship E.g. ethics of care and ethics of an encounter...how do we relate in ways that are caring? and in ways that respect ‘otherness’/ diversity?
2010s: Relationship between ECCE and Compulsory Education Dominant relationship today: ECEC ‘readying’ children for school...but there are alternatives, e.g. ‘strong and equal partnership’...‘pedagogical meeting place’ Rather than ‘schoolification’, re-think education from 0-18 based on new, shared political and ethical practice
Proposition 1We need to get ECCE into perspective. We arein danger of over-stating the impact of ECCEon reducing the damaging consequences ofinequality and injustice...while understating itspotential for individual, family and communityflourishing.
Putting ECCE in perspective Unrealistic claims made for ECCE...it can fix social and economic ills caused by inequality and injustice...v.high return on investment Claims often based on small local studies in US, a country where child poverty remains high after 40 years of early interventions ECCE by itself is not a magic potion or silver bullet – it is no short cut to a good society...we need to put it into perspective
Putting ECCE in perspectiveAre we sure there is no magic potion that willpush poor children into the middle class? Onlyif the potion contains health care, childcare,good housing, sufficient income for everyfamily, child rearing environments free ofdrugs and violence, support for parents in alltheir roles, and equal education for all...Without these necessities, only magic willmake that happen (Ed Ziegler)
Putting ECCE in perspectiveInequality has risen to alarming levels aroundthe world....Inequality should be at the centreof our attention...Investing in people...begin in early childhood[and] it must be followed by formaleducation...Tax and benefit policies [to]promote a better distribution of income...Highquality public services...reducing regionaldisparities (Angel Gurria, OECD Secretary-General, 19/3/2012)
Putting ECCE in perspective Successful countries (Nordics) have very good ECCE – but one part of a political and social system that is: democratic and egalitarian; sustained by a well- developed welfare state; with high taxes. EC centres – and schools – have an important part to play in a good society as part of a political and social system and if our image of them is a public space, a place of encounter for all citizens, a collaborative workshop for communities...a public resource of great potential and many possibilities
Proposition 2We need to get beyond ‘quality’ and talkinstead about - what we really value anddesire...and in the process acknowledge,welcome and work with diversity, complexityand multiple perspectives
Getting ‘beyond’ quality ‘Quality’ becomes meaningless with overuse When we try to give it meaning, we end up with a set of supposedly universal and objective norms defined by experts and ignoring context, diversity and complexity ‘Quality’ cannot accommodate diversity and complexity...treats ECCE as technical practice NOT a political and ethical practice based on critical questions and conflicting alternatives
Getting ‘beyond quality’ means... Not talking about ‘good quality ECCE’ Talking about answers to critical questions, what images? what concepts? what values and ethics; what paradigms and theories? Etc. (e.g.) ‘ECCE that values democracy and experimentation...works with the image of a rich child...strives for ‘education in its broadest sense’...adopts a post-structural paradigm and experiments with the theories of Delueze’
Getting ‘beyond quality’ means... No longer evaluating with standardised check- lists Using participatory methods including children, parents, educators, citizens, e.g. pedagogical documentation: making practice visible subject to dialogue, reflection and interpretation in relationship with others
Pedagogical documentationDocumenting what has been observed in work with thechildren is one of the keys of Malaguzzi’s philosophy.Behind this practice...is the ideological and ethicalconcept of a transparent school and education...[PD is] an extraordinary tool for dialogue, for exchange,for sharing. For Malaguzzi it means the possibility todiscuss and to dialogue ‘everything with everyone’(teachers, auxiliary staff, cooks, families, administrators,citizens)…being able to discuss real, concrete things –not just theories and words (Alfredo Hoyuelos, 2004)
Proposition 3We cannot address ‘training’ of teachers,educators etc until we have engaged withcritical questions and relational ethics, e.g.‘what image of the child?’; ‘what relationalethics will the teacher work with?’
What image of the child? Increasing interest in the social construction or image of the child, e.g. sociology of childhood Many social constructions/images of the child, e.g. as knowledge reproducer...innocent...nature Each image is ‘productive’ of policy, provision and practice Images are always present in policy and research – but implicit, unacknowledged, undiscussed...pretend there is an essential or true child...the political becomes technical
Reggio Emilia asks the question and gives an explicit answerOne of the strong points [of our schools] has alwaysbeen that of starting from a very open, explicitdeclaration of our image of the child, where image isunderstood as a strong and optimistic interpretationof the child. A child born with many resources andextraordinary potentials that have never ceased toamaze us, with an autonomous capacity forconstructing thoughts, ideas, questions and attemptsat answers (Loris Malaguzzi) The image of the ‘rich child’
What image of the educator?ubstitute mother...technician(applies aprogramme) ...expert professional (knows the rightanswers)o-constructor of knowledge, researcher andexperimenter, working with the image of a rich child...ore attentive to creating possibilities than pursuingpredefined goals… [with] responsibility to choose,experiment, discuss, reflect and change, focusing onthe organisation of opportunities rather than the
What education for this image of the educator? Graduate 0-6 profession (what % of workforce? 50% 80%) ...parity with school teachers Continuing education, including workplace and postgraduate studies Education to cover: Diversity, complexity, uncertainty, experimentation... ‘pleasure of amazement and wonder’ ...people and communities + paradigms and theories Democracy and participation: a democratic practitioner Critical thinking Relational ethics Diverse profession...20%+ men
Proposition 4The process of engaging with politicaland ethical questions should extend tothe whole education system andprovides a basis for a relationshipbetween ECCE and school that rejectsthe discourse of ‘readying for school’
Relationship between ECCE and CSENo.1.ECEC ‘readying’/‘preparing’ for school Dominant relationship today...and increasing Increases ‘schoolification’ - the downward reach of traditional compulsory schooling Concerns about relationship I: inappropriate content and methods...loss of identity and strengths of early childhood education...no change in the conservative school
SchoolificationEarly education is assimilated, both conceptually andadministratively, to a traditional primary schoolmodel...Schoolified early childhood services are characterisedby age segregation, with children grouped by year ofbirth; ...a predominantly knowledge transfer modelwith whole class exercises; large numbers of youngchildren assigned to each group and insufficientattention given to the needs, talents and agency ofthe individual child; and often a neglect of children’splay, family outreach and the social dimensions ofearly education (John Bennett)
No.2. ‘Strong and equal partnership’ (OECD Starting Strong)A strong partnership with the education systemshould provide the opportunity to bringtogether the diverse perspectives and methodsof both ECE and CSE, focusing on theirrespective strengths, such as the emphasis onparental involvement and social developmentin ECE and the focus on educational goals andlearning in CSE (John Bennett)
No.3. ‘The vision of a pedagogical meeting place’ECCE and CSE come together to: understand different traditions, images, values, practices co-construct something new in response to critical questions...new shared images, values, goals, practices shared approach from 0 to 18...new, shared images, values, goals and practices (e.g. rich child, democracy, ethics of care) and ‘education in its broadest sense’... understood as a broad, holistic concept, concerned with all aspects of well-being and development.
Some concluding reflections on the concept paper and cases
‘Early Childhood: seeds for the future’ or ‘Early Childhood: one important ingredient for a flourishing life - here and now & in the future’ ‘Quality ECCE’: drop ‘quality’ – instead talk/argue about what we value and desire (I)NGOs: important role in developing a democratic politics of early childhood...critical thinking to dominant discourses...asking and discussing political questions...resisting the ‘dictatorship of no alternative’
‘Creation of original, flexible and locally relevant ECCE provision’. Meaning? Why these? More work on image of the EC centre? ECCE for ‘improved school readiness’ – don’t take this relationship for granted...there are alternatives! Democracy as a fundamental value and democratic practice can support and enrich participation of parents/ families/ communities.
Technical practice does matter, e.g. structures, resources, methods...but always comes after political and ethical practice. Innovation/experimentation important, but as continuous movement, not occasional movement from one position to another... need to pay far more attention to sustaining experimentation over time. Where to? Without asking this question, danger of more of the same, reproducing dysfunctional systems.
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