Critical reconceptualizations of early childhood curriculum, theory, and pedagogy: New governmentalities and (Im)possible but rhizomatic openings

Marianne N. BLOCH, I Fang LEE, Devorah I. KENNEDY, Sabiha BILGI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Drawing from critiques from the 1980s and 1990s of developmentally appropriate practices as the guide for “quality” and “best practices” in the USA (and now elsewhere), this paper continues to interrogate cultural reasoning systems that appear to hold “in place” developmental norms, positivist research, and pedagogical standards that highlight developmental appropriateness as best practice in early education and child care. While the critiques from the early 1990’s stimulated a great deal of discussion, many have questioned the ‘governmentalities’ that continue to police practice, are used to survey(eille) teachers, and teacher education, programs in terms of what certification is valued and valuable. This paper focuses on the ways in which a variety of researchers drawing on post-structural/postmodern, feminist, and postcolonial analyses have examined and expanded the critiques from twenty and thirty years ago, and also have opened new rhizomatic (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) openings, strategic and contingent alliances, and different ways of talking about conduct, reasoning, and action. The authors also discuss the critiques and the different lines of rhizomatic thinking in terms of political “effects,” and effects of the circulation, globally, and locally, of the movement to developmentalism as a “standard” of quality in early education and child care. A discursive analysis of current policy texts in the USA and in Hong Kong and Taiwan is used to illustrate the notion of traveling discourses, contingent global/local translations. In addition, we emphasize the importance of strategic alliances such as the reconceptualizing early childhood education conversations and publications, as well as the work of the critical perspectives in early childhood education, as well as other important critically oriented journals (e.g., Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood) that have continued to fuel conversations, alliances, and, at times, resistance, as well as further critique and selective, contingent action. Lastly, the authors will interrogate “what’s next?” in a field of play where there are both structural and post-structural inequalities, with severe material consequences for many? What have we learned in the past 20-30 years of debate, and how might our alliances and conversations move in new unthought of, spaces as we move toward an imagined future of policy, continued policing, and not at all always “best practice.”
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011



Bloch, M. N., Lee, I.-F., Kennedy, D. I., & Bilgi, S. (2011, April). Critical reconceptualizations of early childhood curriculum, theory, and pedagogy: New governmentalities and (Im)possible but rhizomatic openings. Paper presented at the (American Educational Research Association) AERA 2011 Annual Meeting: Inciting the social imagination: Education research for the public good, New Orleans Marriott, New Orleans, Louisiana.