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The tightening noose: Scientific management and early childhood education

Bradley Hannigan


The scientific management of compulsory education in Aotearoa New Zealand has been well documented and it appears that it is being extended to early childhood education (ECE). Using the language of scientific management as a default language for describing the purpose and function of education is a key means for the enculturation of scientific management practices in ECE and compulsory schooling sectors. This article advances the argument that the scientific management of compulsory schooling is well established, and that unless the early childhood education sector is careful, it will follow suit. This article extends Jim Neyland’s critique of scientific management in education to early childhood education to sound a warning about this all-too-easy turn in language and concept, proposing that it needs to be challenged.

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