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Bringing politics into the nursery: Early childhood education as a democratic practice

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Working Paper 43
Moss, Peter
Publication Date: 
18 Jun 2007


Care and education of young children is often understood primarily as a commodity to be provided in the marketplace, or as a kind of factory to produce human capital. But institutions for children and young people can also serve a very different role. They can be understood as forums for democratic political practice. This is a choice that we, as citizens, can make. This paper applies the idea of democracy to a wide range of institutions providing education and care for young children.

Observing that democracy is in a sickly state in neo-liberal societies, the author discusses the importance of democratic participation as a right of citizenship, a bulwark against oppression and injustice, and a means for fostering diversity in society. He then looks at what it means to have democracy in early childhood settings, distinguishing between a democratic ethos that values the sharing of opinions and perspectives, and democracy in the form of management structures that involve elected representatives of parents and educators. He looks at what we can learn from practices around Europe, especially in the Nordic countries, and at what conditions are necessary to foster the establishment of democratic participation in early childhood settings.

Entered Date: 
22 Jun 2007
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