Over the past two centuries the Age of Modernity has dominated intellectual thought and related actions predominantly in the English-speaking world. It is now becoming increasingly recognized by academics and powerful organizations both nationally and internationally that the consequence of this mode of thinking has generated immense problems for the contemporary world. The level of social and economic inequalities that continue to increase has now become the concern of many, particularly those who identify with the thinking and ideas associated with the emerging Age of Post-Modernity. The challenge to Education is profound not least so in how young children’s awareness, knowledge and understanding about the society in which they live is transmitted, often unwittingly, initially in families and subsequently in kindergartens and schools. This paper first addresses the main social constructions of childhood that can be identified in democratic countries and then links these constructions to the three dominant ideologies that exert axiomatic influence on the education process in different countries. Emerging from this brief analysis the paper identifies three fundamental and important challenges to those with responsibility and influence on young children’s education be they in governments, educational institutions or families.
Part of the book: Education in Childhood
Over the past 30 years, postmodernism has established a firm foothold in the Arts, Literature, Architecture, and Philosophy. However, in Education, the adoption of the postmodernist paradigm into teaching and learning in educational settings is still in its infancy, especially in early childhood education and care where many argue that the ideas of postmodernism are most needed. Academics and some administrators now acknowledge that the social consequences arising from the Age of Modernity are adversely affecting humanity. A clarion call has been sounded for a radical re-alignment of the curriculum and pedagogy for young children to re-shape their social attitudes and behaviour. This chapter claims that the education of children in their early years needs to be informed and reformed by postmodernist ideas. In a recent publication, it was argued that the focus of early childhood education and care be shifted from a central focus on ‘the self’ to one where children learn to be located in social contexts where the emphasis is on greater critical awareness, social responsibility and social justice. After briefly contextualizing postmodernism, the chapter explores how a critical pedagogy for young children might emerge.
Part of the book: Early Childhood Education