You are here

Language strategies for “Early Childhood Education”? Newspeak and He Taonga te Tamaiti

Andrew Gibbons, Marek Tesar, And Pasley, & Georgina Stewart

The early learning action plan 2019–2029, He Taonga te Tamaiti / Every Child a Taonga, ushers in a new era of thinking about the governance of early childhood education (ECE). The policy language has changed, with a shift from “early childhood education” to the “early learning system”. This article starts from the concern that if a teacher was to search through the action plan and note where the phrases “early childhood”, “early childhood education”, or “early childhood care and education”, “early learning”, “early learning services”, “early learning provision”, and “early learning system” occur, they would begin to paint a landscape of the way in which the language of governance has been changing in ECE. In this article we ask: What does this shift in language mean for the early childhood sector? To interrogate this question, we will explore elements of the language of the plan, and question the discourse of several key changes. We begin with a turn to the theorisation of government through language via the work of George Orwell, which align with Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality, which informs ECE theory for policy, research, and practice, and how particular ways of thinking are produced in and by the dominant discourses of ECE.

Purchase the full text of this article