Independently Peer-reviewed ArticlesVol. 8 No. 1 (2021)
Lucinda Heimer- Associate Editor
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The current issue is made up of five unique research-based articles. They are excellent contributions, and we want to thank the authors for their patience while awaiting publication. We also want to thank many reviewers for their feedback, and to thank copyeditors for their careful attention to the details that make publications consistent across time and with other international standards for publication.
The articles reflect ways to rethink and interrogate what we know, and how we come to think we know children’s, teachers’, and community members’, including parents’, experience. They reflect new questions about policy (Cahill, Jozwiak & Kim, Neal, and Heimer, Nayquonabe & Sullivan), theory and research (Novosel & Dahlberg, Heimer, Nayquonabe & Sullivan, Neal, Cahill, Jozwiak & Kim, and Dash & Peters), and the relationship between power and knowledge, and truth/what we take as truth. A few specific points we want to highlight across the articles are briefly illustrated below.
A Focus on Indigenous Knowledge Systems, and on, Children’s Voices, and Experiences
The article written by Heimer, Nayquonabe, and Sullivan questions representation by exploring personal stories of historical legacy/trauma centering on Indigenous knowledge systems that could be used and were used to create ECE higher education pathways. The three coauthors use a long history of collaboration and a privileging of local knowledge to highlight the importance of credentialed Indigenous teachers within the community that, as they illustrate, shifts the balance from outsiders/settlers to teaching from a base of knowing that fits the lives of Anishinaabe children and their community.
In the Cahill, Jozwiak, and Kim article, children’s and families’ voices are used to disrupt the dichotomy of a normative construction of the terms discontinuity and continuity that permeate policy and standards discussions in many early childhood education and child care settings. They call for more flexible interpretations, and the creation of relevant practice, authentic advocacy/co-conspiracy to understand the complexity and specific moments when our notions of continuity/discontinuity break apart, are non-linear, and require new policies and practices that recognize their “entangledness”, the notion of both/and rather than and/or.
Novosel and Dahlberg’s article draws on Stern’s theory of affect/vitality to examine one year old’s nonverbal behavior and utterances. They ask us to look more closely at the moment, to see when young children are making sense of experiences that others might see as unimportant or non-sense. They allow us –through illustrations of children’s affect and vitality at particular moments to see – “things in the making.” The elegant way in which their piece draws our attention to vitality in toddler’s nonverbal as well as verbal experience as moments to recognize also calls into question our more superficial understanding of how and what children know more generally.
Using the above theme, Dash and Peters’ research uses persona dolls to offer stories from children’s own understandings of the “other” or of those they see as the “same.” They ask us to draw on children’s voices more and to dig deeply into their understanding rather than assume we know. Similarly, Rebecca Neal focuses on the written and told stories of young adolescent males over time as they are constructed as “bad.” The contrast between the boys’ stories and those constructed by teachers reminds us to do our research, and teaching differently. It also reminds us of how we use very incomplete knowledge to construct stories, and form and act on discipline policies around children without including their voice, their understanding, their ideas into understanding of, in this case, black boys as “others.”
Theory and Methodologies
Heimer, Nayquonabe, and Sullivan utilize Critical Race Theory and duoethnography – to center on Indigenous knowledge as an epistemological option toward rethinking Eurowestern influences; they model research strategies that focus on reclaiming, reframing, and recreating research through their autoethnographic work as Indigenous and Eurowestern authors. Cahill, Jozwiak, and Kim, on the other hand, extend the stories of educators and families re: (dis)continuity to consider how a binary or rigid definition extends to four ECE subsystems: QRIS standards, Professional Development, ECE standards, and data collection. The author’s apply insights from their research to consider varied and fluid approaches to data collection and end with the idea of building from community knowledge to better define new and unique systems that fit-- rather than fitting systems to the community.
Novosel and Dahlberg by observing without judgement, without a filtered lens of developmental psychology, draw on the theory of translanguaging to consider the significance of affect/vitality in one year old children. Similarly, Dash and Peters center on the experience of the child in terms of stories they know and tell if listened to; they ask us to look closely at what children say and know about racism and to ask ourselves as educators to – “never stop asking ourselves: are we doing the right thing in the way we teach? Do we understand how children are thinking as a basis for lessons?” And finally, through a close reading of what her young adolescents were doing and saying, and by following them for a length of time, with comparisons between the teacher and students, Neal magnifies the voices of Black Boys as powerful rather than ‘bad’.
Questions and Implications
Across all articles the authors’ raise the voices of those too often not viewed as experts. They prioritize the children (toddler to teen), the researchers (Indigenous perspectives), and the teachers as the ‘experts’ for sharing life experiences. Our work as early education researchers and thinkers exists to question, explore, learn from and support these very ways of being. Using utterances, photos, analyzed recordings, and surveys the research in this volume successfully exposes important gaps in early childhood education, and beyond, and, in all articles, a need to reexamine terminology and our knowledge or “truth” that currently guides important policies and practices.
(New) Critical Readings of Aotearoa New Zealand Early Childhood Policy and PracticeVol. 7 No. 1 (2019)
Editors’ Introduction to the Special Issue 7(1) by Gaches and Gunn, by Marianne Bloch and Kenya Wolff.
In this special issue, the special issue editors, Sonya Gaches and Alex Gunn draw on their own work, and the work of four post-graduate students from the University of Otago, New Zealand to discuss then proposed revisions to the Te Whāriki early childhood curriculum and policy document that were under debate at the time of the 2016 Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education conference held in New Zealand. At that conference, keynote speakers spoke of the history of development of the world famous Te Whāriki curriculum policy. In this issue, Gaches and Gunn introduce the key aspects of debate surrounding the then proposed reforms, as well as the political context shifts that have been affecting New Zealand’s early childhood (and educational) policies over the past decade. Gaches and Gunn’s introductory article, as well as the articles that follow, focus on neoliberal political and economic perspectives that have constrained the full implementation of Te Whāriki. In addition, the articles by different authors illustrate various ways in which alternative theoretical perspectives—drawing from theoretical framings by Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, and Simone Weill, help frame different ways to interrogate or reconstruct the policy and curriculum debates, opening new ways to imagine and to act. These articles are important not only for the New Zealand context, but are significant to the journal’s global readership--as similar discursive and material forces have permeated most regional and country policy frameworks, affecting the funding and nature of program delivery, affordability, the ways in which curriculum is developed and promoted, as well as the promotion of diverse ways to assess children or evaluate programs. The presentation of the case from New Zealand, where strong actors in the early childhood sector, in collaboration with self-selected Maori elders and others from the Maori communities across the nation, have developed and maintained an exemplary bilingual/multicultural curriculum for families and children, highlights the importance of presenting the debates and issues in these articles. As suggested earlier, these issues are critically important to bring to the global community of scholars in our on-line open access journal, as they illustrate important issues and debates as well as challenges that impact the opportunities and experiences available to diverse families, children, and early childhood teachers in New Zealand, and around the globe.
In addition to the importance of the collection of articles, we are excited to share this body of work from four post-graduate students from Aotearoa New Zealand who found that their work presented at the 2016 conference was significant not only to themselves, but to a larger audience. Gaches and Gunn worked with the students to bring these articles from research to conference presentation to publication. Drawing directly from Gaches and Gunn’s introductory article, “It is in these ways that the globally nomadic Reconceptualising Early Childhood Education (RECE) Conference affords scholars from around the globe regular opportunities to come together in diverse geographical locations and cultural contexts with an overall common purpose to “challenge and dismantle traditional assumptions about childhood and theory and/or feature new directions in research, policy and practice in early childhood education and care (ECEC)” (RECE 2014, 2015, 2016 Call for Proposals, p.1). Conferencing in a diversity of global settings also provides the local researchers, practitioners, and critically minded early childhood education community members access to presentations, provocations, and an expanding reconceptualist conversation and community that may otherwise be limited or completely unattainable on this international scale” (Gaches & Gunn, this issue, p. 1).
We are excited to share this body of work from Gaches and Gunn, and their post-graduate students from Aotearoa New Zealand as the first issue of the International Critical Childhood Policy Studies Journal to be published in 2019. Thank you to the many reviewers of the articles, as well as to the editorial team that has come together to bring this and other journal issues to publication. A special thank you to Associate Professor, and Associate Editor, Dr. Lucy Heimer and Dr. Shirley Kessler, along with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for a grant that has enabled editorial and copyediting assistance for the journal. We invite you to submit articles to the journal, sign up as reader and reviewer, and to keep watch for the next exciting special issue that will be published in 2019, co-edited by I-Fang Lee and Michelle Salazar Perez, Foggy Futures in Education: The Looming Storms of School-Choice and Voucher Programs.
Foggy Futures in Education: The Looming Storms of School Choice and Voucher ProgramsVol. 7 No. 2 (2019)
University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
This special issue, co-edited by I-Fang Lee and Michelle Salazar Perez, titled Foggy Futures in Education: The Looming Storms of School Choice and Voucher Programs, focuses on many key issues facing the provision and visions of education at all levels. As this journal is focused on critical policy studies related to childhood and childhood studies, we note that some articles focus on early childhood while some address research at the high school level. The co-editors in their own work—not presented in this special issue—have focused on school choice and vouchers in the USA as well as in multiple other nations. The philosophy of choice, public or private provision of educational or school-based options is very contentious, but also very important. In early education, throughout the globe, there are debates whether governments should provide publicly funded early education “choices” or “allow” families to privately make choices about whether children are at home or in an early childhood or child care setting. Increasingly, governments are choosing to subsidize or fund early childhood out-of-home child care/early education for children: some countries have a long history of public funding while others are moving slowing from private non-subsidized care by family (most often mothers or other female relatives) to limited or full funding for certain age groups of preschool or kindergarten age children (e.g. Universal pre-Kindergarten programs for four year-olds). At the preschool level through high school levels, options for private education that is publicly funded (charter schools, voucher programs) have increased ---theoretically to allow more families to choose what they want for their children. While the articles in the special issue illustrate the neoliberal philosophical and research background for growth in charter or voucher “choice” schools in various contexts around the world, they also raise questions about the very nature of “choice,” and the construction of public/private itself in making choices. For example, if there are few choices, and the choices are imperfect, or obscured for many families, does this constitute “free choice” or an “open market?” Similarly, if there are no choices but private schools, is this a private choice? Or is it a public choice to not provide government funding for schools or child care programs—especially for some children? There are many questions of great importance involved in the notion of both public and private “choices:”
- Who gets to choose, and who doesn’t have a choice?
- Who decides whether public funding will be used for education/child care at what levels, or for which children and families?
- What are the political, economic, historical and philosophical discourses that frame international, country, or local debates?
- How does a lack of, or decrease of public financing, because of an increase in private choices (possibly publicly funded as in charter or voucher programs) affect public provision of good programs for other children?
- If private options increase with public funding, is this “good” for children, or good for the private sector of the economy; could it be both/and? If there is a growth of private programs, for profit, and a decrease in public provision, is this a “choice” made by a society for its children or is it part of a global movement toward neoliberal capitalism?
- What is “free choice” when choices are severely limited?
- Which children and families benefit, which lose-- from the movement of public funds to private concerns?
There are many other questions we might ask. The editors’ introduction and the five articles that make up this special issue illustrate the critical need for interrogation of these questions, and issues worldwide. Thank you to authors, editors, and all of those who reviewed these articles, and helped with the publication of this journal and special issue.