The Philosophy of Early Childhood Examining the Cradle of the Evil, Rational and Free Child Changing Paradigms of Early Childhood

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The Philosophy of Early Childhood Examining the Cradle of the Evil, Rational and Free Child Changing Paradigms of Early Childhood
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   hapter I The Philosophy of Early hildhood Examining the radle of the Evil Rational and Free Child ichael A Peters and arek esar hanging Paradigms of Early hildhood The philosophy of early childhood and childhood is a contested notion. Epistemology and ontology in early childhood education are very strongly connected with the history of philosophy ゥ as well as with the history of children and their childhoods. Understanding and interrogating the very idea of early childhood from a philosophical perspective relies on a disciplinary philosophical thinking and reasoning that has emerged from the very historical collaborations and ー tensions that underlie the theories of education and practice of pedagogy. This mtroductory chapter considers the history of childhood, childcare and early years education as both a philosophical and a political act, demonstrated through the notion of historicising'; as Foucault reminds us, to look forward it is critical to understand the history itself. ' Considering a philosophical lens also means considering the curriculum of early childhood education and maintaining a philosophical, pedagogical and political manifestation. Over the years, a lot of international interest has been drawn to the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum Framework Te Whiiriki. セ a philosophical document, with clear pedagogical and political acts, this curriculum document has in certain ways both witnessed and created a framework for イ towards continuing colonising and neoliberal ideologies. Within Its ウ focus セ economic structures and individual rights, hegemonising and globahsmg practices, regulation and deregulation of the neoliberal ideologies, have permeated the landscape of early childhood education in Aoteaora New Zealand, and shaped the landscape of the early years -and children and their 」 Similar acts, albeit through different philosophical, political and pedagogical measures, have occurred around the world. . t」 also argues for a re-reading of philosophical thoughts and think mg m relation to early childhood. Philosophical thinking is needed to consider both an overview of the early years of a philosophical subject, and an alternative re_ading of conceptions. children as subjects and their childhoods (particularly with respect to the polmcal and policy demarcation of early childhood as a biological and care-based sector, and a non-compulsory one). Through this lens, The Philosophy of Early Childhood 3 it is the re-reading of philosophy and educational theory, and all the relevant discourses, that have become seminal in understanding and analysing child subjects and their subject positions in educational settings, and their constitution as subjects through power and subjectification. In this sense, philosophy of education and educational theory assures us in re-examining what a 'turn' to the child, and a child-centered philosophy, may mean in a contemporary educational landscape for the philosophy of education (see also Peters Tesar, 2015). The shift to re-reading philosophical texts as philosophy focused on the child, children, and their childhoods is an important act. In early childhood education, philosophy has been subjected to many different turns and theoretical frameworks that were elevated and applied in the search for an 'ideal' or 'good' fit as a framework, or an ideal product for examining childhood. The 'elevated', approved research paradigms and theoretical frameworks for early childhood education came 'into fashion', and then moved on again, making way for the next 'fashion' that arrived. For instance, the language turn and Foucauldian thought in education have been 'in fashion' for some time, and Foucault's work has become an important episteme and grounding for thinking (and in this sense so has the embodiment and performance of the ascendence of a version of his antisciences, to discursive and political power). These paradigm shifts in early childhood theory, research and practice are exemplified in the philosophies that shaped them. The early years have been moulded and positioned within the past forty years from a perspective of Piaget's developmental viewpoint, but also through humanism, Vygotsky, and constructivism, to the uplifting of a socio-cultural framework as a preferred curriculummaking theory. The rapid turn to post-structuralism embraced Foucault (and partly Derrida and Lyotard) and in recent years, early years theorists and thinkers have turned to Deleuze and Guattari's work. The current 'fashion', or epistemological and ontological turn is towards the theories of post-humanism, new empiricism and new materialism, represented by scholars such as Haraway, Barad and Bennett. All of hese approaches are very important in shaping the early years discourses and thinking. For example, the importance of Foucault's thought is in its application and use in early years' research, and is based upon what had been eloquently explored and argued by key thinkers in recent decades (e.g., Ball, 1990; Marshall, 1996; Koro-Ljungberg et al., 2015; Peters & Besley, 2007; Popkewitz & Brennan, 1998): the philosophy of he discursive and language turn and its relevance and importance to education. Histories of Philosophy of hildhoods The major contributors to the philosophy and pedagogy of the early years are European philosophers. John Locke's and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's well-known philosophies of the rational and free child, respectively, are discussed in detail in the section below, as is Hobbes' view on childhood. Comenius, a Czech phi losopher, known in Central Europe as Jan Amos Komensky, is considered to be  4 Michael A. Peters and Marek Tesar one of the most important 17th century enlightenment philosophers, on which 'modern' education was shaped. Comenius had a strong focus on the notion of common languages and emphasised the notion of universal schooling, while the srcins of progressive education can be traced in his writing. Comenius also published what is considered the first philosophical text focused directly on young children, The School of nfancy ( 1631 . The other important philosophical educators of the late 18th and early 19th century were Swiss Johann Heinrich Pestallozi and German Friedrich Froebe , both immersed in the philosophy of he early years and ofrelevant pedagogy and teaching methods for young children. While Froebe is considered to be the founder of he 'modern' notion of kindergartens, Pestalozzi utilised many notions from Comenius' theory and philosophy, pedagogy and methods that can be implemented in educational settings (see also May, 2013; Stables, 2008). These philosophical theories and pedagogies opened up discussions around children and their childhoods. Historian of childhood, Hugh Cunningham, argues that childhoods are invented and not universal, both across time and across cultures and societies: We don't all agree on when childhood begins. At conception? At birth? At some point beyond babyhood? And we certainly don't agree on when it ends. At puberty? When we leave school? When we leave home? When we cease to be financially dependent on our parents? When we are of an age to be criminally responsible, or to have sex, serve in the armed forces, buy alcoholic drinks or drive a car? All these seem to be markers of some kind for the end of childhood, but there is no ceremony or ritual, as in some societies, in which we [read in Western Culture] leave childhood and move to something beyond it. And of course we use the word 'child' in different senses: a child can cease to be one with time, but we are always a child of our parents. (Cunningham, 2006, p. 14) Philosophically, there is a notion that childhood is in a way a performance of modernity -a modern invention to colonise, treat, mould and shape the notion of'childhood' as suits and serves the adults. In such a discourse, children's child hood has become a product -an artefact in fact-ofmodernity. Such a modernist perspective and view on childhood was emphasised by French scholar, Philippe Aries (1960), who wrote the text Centuries of Childhood. This, to date, remains one of the most seminal contributions to the history of childhoods, and one of the most compelling ones, despite a hesitation around Aries' argument. The debates his work has caused have, however, become a very productive exercise in understanding the history and philosophy that was often forgotten, neglected and not considered important. What Aries argued was the intention to shift the perception and the spotlight in the thinking about childhood from the universal and top-down measures of prominent figures, towards more elevating the experiential, more common day-to-day, mundane occurrences of childhoods, often The Philosophy of Early Childhood 5 ethnographic in nature, in subjective ideas, feelings, case studies on how human subjects understood themselves. Aries claimed that in medieval society there was no specifically child-centered approach, and that children were seen as needing the protection of the family. The structure of he family unit was very limited and children left home at a very young age, and were so-called little adults. This was contradictory to the time of modernity, where many products and provisions were provided directly to, and for, children. In particular, the idea of public, free and compulsory schooling cemented the way we understand children and their childhood, and the way they are considered in contemporary times. Products such as children's toys, children's clothing, and children's stories were virtually non-existent. In short, as Aries ( 1960) argues: "in medieval society the idea of childhood did not exist" (p. 125 . Aries, in order to research materials for this influential yet controversial text, conducted methodological studies of medieval archives, diaries, philosophies, and any writings that focused on understandings of age or development in relation to children. Furthermore, the focus of his examination was any literature and paintings, sculptures and art, including children's dresses, and children's games and play. All of these examinations in his studies pointed to the notion that in medieval times children as subjects were performed and understood as miniature adults. As Aries argued, "medieval art until the twelfth century did not know childhood or did not attempt to portray it (p. 31). This view is reinforced, says Aries, by the study of medieval children's clothing, which was generally simply smaller versions of what was fashionable for adults. For example, infants wore baby clothes which were generally the same for boys and girls, but at about the age of seven, children moved on into smaller versions of adult outfits. This changed in the times of modernity, both within the educational institution and in the family. The ideas around public educational institutions, that define schooling, shape our understanding of childhood. On the other hand, deMause (1976) portrayed the history of childhood as times when children were abused, hurt, tortured and even killed -and different pathways of parenting and care were developed based upon these experiences. DeMause argued that the care for a child, children's rights or welfare were not part of the public discourse in the old days, and the child-centered approach, including focus on wellbeing and community, and education and care, was only slowly starting to develop. Similarly to deMause, others have contested Aries' perspective (Pollock, 1983), in particular the notion that childhood did not exist during medieval times, and the idea that childhood is an invention of modernity. The arguments were that Aries' work lacked any study of children, and that in order to make the statement that he made, he needed to address the real, actual parent-child relationships as they occurred in medieval history, rather than relying on secondary ideas around childhoods. The other arguments from historians are that medieval times cannot be viewed as only cruel, that it was not a form of normality of mundane and everyday life', and that very strong sentiments over children  6 Michael A. Peters and Marek Tesar persisted in those days. The other critique, more of a methodological character, is that Aries' study was generally restricted to the very literate upper and middle classes, while omitting experiences of lower classes. This idea of childhood was influenced in the nineteenth century by the abolishment of child labour, and the rise of the importance and the political influence of schooling experiences for children, and the pressing need for children to be institutionalised in order to be governed. While poverty was still a significant con tributor to the education and experiences of children's lives, the child-centered approach and policy as a way to mould and shape childhood were in place. The twentieth century has become known as the century of the child, and had a very clear focus on family, interactions, education and care. This focus included the involvement of all the relevant agencies in a child's life that were needed. Early schooling experiences were extended as younger and younger children entered educational settings, producing more questions around roles and responsibilities; and the increased role of the state in the education, care and regulation of children and their childhood. The child subject has become an economic subject - as a homo economicus, with clear roles in and for society. In addition, questions about health and children's rights -· and who is benefiting from the policies focused on childhood and children -and about whose interests they are serving, have become pertinent to ask alongside the traditional concerns of who the child is and what is childhood. hildren and hildhoods The notion of 'childhood' cannot be considered outside of the realm of the contemporary narrative. The concerns of what is childhood, and who is a child, have been part of the longstanding philosophical debates. Many ontological and epistemological positionings are present in these categories - of children and childhood - that are grounded in the contemporary conditions. These conditions are, however, present in the times where there is a growing pressure on human subjects not to historicise, but more and more to implement the agenda of globalisation and the related ideas that will, most likely, managerialise and marginalise childhood, in order to govern and police children and their child hood experience. The philosophy of childhood -and particularly of he early years and early child hood -can potentially rupture and offer alternative ways of thinking and being in relation to the established ways of governing and productions of childhood in the diverse educational settings. The figure and purpose of the child includes many diverse categories, and is often subjected to institutional terms of reference that are both ontologically and epistemologically problematic. Challenging the boundaries of what it means to be a child and an adult - of childhood and adulthood as categories -- is what philosophy ponders, as a disciplinary possibility for theorising and disrupting these categories at all ontological, epistemological and ethical levels. These terms -children and childhood -are not only The Philosophy of Early Childhood 7 contested and challenged through philosophy: as Matthews ( 1994) argues, to understand the philosophy of childhood is perhaps to understand philosophy itself. He argues further in his book Philosophy of Childhood that something that portrays and encourages any form or shape of a relationship with early childhood: "any developmental theory that rules out, on purely theoretical grounds, even the possibility that we adults may occasionally have something to learn, morally, from a child is, for that reason, defective; it is also morally offensive" (p. 67). Some of the strongest and most significant statements about children and childhoods are represented in the document in which the United Nations in its Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) frames its notion of the child (United Nations Human Rights, 1989). This document in many ways defines contemporary understandings of 'the child'. In Article 1 it defines the child, and his/her relationships with childhoods, as a young person under the age of 18 who has particular rights, related to his/her wishes, episteme, regardless of gender, abilities, ethnicity or race. Article 1 articulates the central idea relevant to both a philosophical and a policy framework. Thes.e ideas disrupt policies focused on the idea of clear boundaries, and lead to uncertainty, using troubled language and definitions that benefit from in-depth examination through a philosophical lens. Philosophy acts as a method that questions what we -read as adults -understand children and their childhoods to be. All philosophy is relevant to the philosophy of children and childhood. For philosophy to become the philosophy of children and childhood allows for a potentially productive space using work that could be, for instance, monopo lised and labelled as 'developmental', if not dangerous. Recognising philosophers for their contributions to the ideas, discourses and thoughts about children and childhoods is very provocative and allows the further develop ment of understandings of what it means to be a child, what childhood is, and questions and concerns around child-rearing. For instance, Swiss philosopher and psychologist Jean Piaget is one of the major personas in the philosophy of children and childhood whose work has been consistently considered by critical scholars as potentially detrimental to the child. However, under close reading, Piaget's work uncovers very strong philosophical contexts and ethical currents. As Matthews ( 1994) states, parts and ideas, and particular contexts of Piaget's thinking are the basis of educational theory and positions us with a very important philosophical grounding to contemporary policy environ ment. And Piaget's thinking, which has come to be labelled as developmentalism, has thus become just another philosophical proposition and wondering, both ontological and epistemological in nature. However, as has become clear in the past decades of policy decision-making, his thinking also carries very strong ethical implications and imperatives. Policies and pedagogies imbued with Piaget's legacy have become the mainstream grounding for Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP), one of the most common theoretical manifestations of policy for children and childhoods, including appropriate and desired behaviour management. DAP has caused and continues to  8 Michael A Peters and Marek Tesar lead to considerable tensions, resistance and even revolt amongst scholars, practitioners and activists. The Evil Rational and Free hild Several philosophers have significantly crafted and devoted their work to the subject of children and childhoods through their philosophical writings. In the political writings of Thomas Hobbes in the 17th century, children were very unruly, and the role of adults -parents or teachers -was to respond, to mind, to shape and mould them. There was a clear need to control the child: Hobbes (2011) saw children as savage and, in a.certain respect, as evil. These notions arose from the statement that all human subjects are born in srcinal sin, and children need to be regulated and controlled, predominantly by their mother. Locke (1970), on the other hand, had a different philosophical stance: he considered children as subjects that were empty, and in his scholarship this argument functioned as the fabled tabula rasa (blank slate). Tabula rasa requires an episteme and ethics supplied by adult subjects, and was to be represented by the family and the society alike, so that children could ultimately become productive elements in society. Hence Locke's version of child subjects was considered as dependent yet productive; there were no innate or other inherited natural capacities, and children must be always reminded and. ever minded, a sense that was very much pushed and shaped by the parents and the society. Rousseau's version of the child and children also considered them to be very much dependent subjects, and in need of support and protection. However, the danger for him lay mainly in the dilemma that adult subjects, and those who govern children and childhood, contribute to the construction of the apparatus of control, production and invention of children -they serve, through parenting but mainly through education, primarily to corrupt the child and children and to remove their innocence and inherited goodness. Child-subjects thus require protection from other subjects, and become very much in need of resistance from the powers that are there to both nurture and develop them at the same time. In Rousseau's (1979) Emile, he understands that childhood is a contested subject and clearly articulates that "[c]hildhood is unknown" (p. 33), and pursues this narrative in his analysis of human subjects' false search for the adult within a child. Rousseau critiques the view of children as 'little adults', and argues that "[ e ]verything is good as it leaves the hands of he Author of hings; everything degenerates in the hands of man" (p. 37). Thus, children are in his work innately uncorrupted and good, and very much positioned in harmony with nature. For him, it is the education that children receive from adult subjects (parents and teachers) that ultimately both spoils and misshapes their development. The protection ofa childsubject from adult-subjects is thus both a concern and a problem: as Rousseau accuses, adults "would gladly cripple them to keep them from laming themselves" (p. 43), which is caused, in his view, by adults' fear for (and distrust of) children. Rousseau protects children's rights: [n]o one, not even the father, has a right to The Philosophy of Early Childhood 9 command the child what is not for his good (p. 85 . In Rousseau's view, children should first learn 。 their rights, and then about their duties. In Rousseau's logic, the entire im•titution of education is problematic: [ e ]verything is folly and contradiction in human institutions" (p. 82 . These institutions corrupt childhoods and their "natural inclinations" (p. 85). However, childhood is a specific construct, as Rousseau claims, it represents particular "ways of seeing, thinking, and feeling, which are proper to it" (p. 90). Finally, when he speaks to young teachers, and focuses on governing childhoods and children he advises teachers to do "everything by doing nothing" (p. 119). While Rousseau suggests that childhood is a specific time, he calls for careful consideration of methods and techniques; an emergent curriculum; knowledge of each individual child; an education without verbal lessons, where a child learns from his own experience; and for a return to nature. The overarching concept that Rousseau portrays as essential in a child's education is freedom. However, it is not until the early 20th century that in Dewey's (2011) work the child is perceived as capable and imbued with a form of individual agency. While Dewey argues that any form of learning should be very clearly directed and purposeful, his work also very clearly notes a shift in the subject positioning of the child subject, as one that should be man -aged, and regulated, and that is at a very uncritical and unthinking stage of human development, that is often barely tolerated, or even subjugated. Methods in Philosophy of hildren and hildhoods The philosophy of children and childhood, in contemporary times, often portrays children's childhoods as socially and culturally constructed, invented and produced within governing rationalities. This focus differentiates the philosophy of children and childhood from psychological, biological and developmental perspectives. The questions of how to define children and their childhoods, what childhoods are, and how they are produced in the contemporary society have been extensively researched, and often as a critique of developmental sci ences such as psychology (see for instance Burman, 2008; James James, 2008; James, Jenks, & Prout, 1998; Jenks, 2005). In outlining the complexities of childhood and children's experiences, and contesting the singularity of children and their childhoods, it is often historic diaries that provide us with understandings of children's subject positioning, adding a piece of he mosaic in the sense of a memoir, and chronicling entries that represent a particular ideological context. Children have a very strong understanding of self and what constitutes their childhoods, and what should be understood as their very own experience. t is often not related to biology or their biological or chronological age, but to the actual moral, material and practical conceptualisations that represent, construct and produce their own childhoods. Child-subjects understand their own positioning towards the epistemology and ontology of their own childhood. Every child-subject produces their own understanding of childhoods -either based upon the policy, governing ideology, or upon the time and temporality of the  I 0 Michael A Peters and Marek Tesar lives that they are living. Perhaps one of the most intriguing ideas around children and their childhoods is utilised by James and Prout (1997): Childhood is understood as a social construction. As such it provides an interpretive frame for contextualising the early years of human life. Child hood, as distinct from biological immaturity, is neither a natural nor univer sal feature of human groups but appears as a specific structural and cultural component of many societies. (p. 8) A remarkable perspective on children and their childhoods in the past decades was introduced by Postman (1994). He draws a very gloomy vision of disappearing childhoods, and outlines the notions and eroding lines of the in-betweenness of the constructs of childhood and adulthood. Postman ( 1994) argues that: [ f]rom a biological point of view it is inconceivable that any culture will forget that it needs to reproduce itself. But it is quite possible for a culture to exist without a social idea of children. Unlike infancy, childhood is a social artefact, not a biological category. (p. xi Postman notes the modern prevalence of adult' themes in children's literature and programmes, the disappearance of'pure' children's movies, games and clothes, and the exploitation of children's sexuality as sites where the erosion of childhoods has occurred in the 20th century. Postman ( 1994) is generally concerned with the visual media's "undifferentiated accessibility" (p. 80), claiming: without learning there are no secrets, and "without secrets, of course, there can be no such thing as childhood" (p. 80). t seems that constructs of children and their childhoods are constantly 'shifting terms', and in the concerns of children and childhoods, "fundamental dilemmas are seen to be those of access and control" (Rose, 1999, p. 15). In other words, the philosophy of children and their childhoods is a contested area of research, philosophy and pedagogy. As Cassidy (2007) argues, child-subjects are not so different to adult-subjects, but they are different in the way that they are opposed to each other in many public discourses that have emphasised and produced such a difference. Childsubjects are becoming political, and are becoming actively participating citizen subjects, whose childhoods are different in each manifestation (Hartas, 2008). However, more than ever before, contemporary childhoods are shaped by political rationalities that clearly argue and emphasise a child's potential as a resource, and shape our theoretical standpoint and understanding of the philosophy of children and their childhoods (Bloch Popkewitz, 2000; Peters Johansson, 2012). Jenks (2005) thinks of children and their childhoods as: a way in which we explore missing, unexpressed and disempowered aspects of ourselves. Concretely, children are seen to present with an increasing The Philosophy of Early Childhood I I intensity of 'challenging behaviour' and adult populations respond with increasingly complex and penetrating means of control, all conducted through an ideology of care. (p. 150) One of the most insightful shifts in understanding young children as subjects srcinated in Prout's (2005) work The Future of Childhood. There is a clear claim for the consideration of biology, material, child and childhood as hybrid (Tesar & Arndt, 2016; Tesar & Koro-Ljungberg, 2016). Furthermore, the works of Arndt (2016) on otherness, Duhn (2014) on agency, Farquhar (2012) on identity, Gibbons (2015) on technology, Knight (2016) on arts, Malone (2016) on nature, Ritchie (2014) on indigenous childhoods, Tesar (2014) on power, White (2015) on dialogism and many others, are important and relevant to our understanding of young children and their childhoods. Often these scholars employ philosophy as a method, and these authors de-center the child subject from the normative adult-child, challenge developmental paradigms, and contest notions of child hood's innocence by experimenting with theories beyond the commonplace discourses of traditional thinking and philosophies. Curriculum and Children s ights Every nation state defines and performs its versions of early childhood differently, in philosophy and policy implications, and utilises diverse frameworks based upon its individual histories. Overall, the landscapes of early childhood are very complex and convoluted, and often portray and refer to different philosophical notions around who is a child-subject, what is their childhood, what services should be provided for such a child, and why. While some curriculum frameworks are regarded as very prescriptive, others, such as New Zealand's curriculum framework Te Whariki (Ministry of Education, 1996), are considered to be highly philosophical. For instance, the curriculum framework Te Whariki aspires for children to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society", who have relationships with "people, places and things" (p. 9). The curriculum uses the metaphor of he woven mat that allows for all actors -teachers, children, whanau (family) and community - to be engaged in the process of weaving curriculum epistemologies. This occurs, not through achievement standards, but through the constructions and making of aspirational statements that empower teachers to create the curriculum together with children in any given community. t allows children to develop holistically, and to create strong relationships and a sense of belonging. Te Whariki allows child subjects to see the world differently, to utilise the strengths in diversity and difference, to focus on their interests and to be, and work closely with, families and communities. This curriculum framework provides an aspirational ideal of 'how to live well together', with others, with
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