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Curriculum in early childhood education: Critical questions about content, coherence, and control

Description:
A continuing struggle over curriculum in early childhood education is evident in contemporary research and debate at national and international levels. This reflects the dominant influence of developmental psychology in international discourses, and in policy frameworks that determine approaches to curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. Focusing on early childhood education, we argue that this struggle generates critical questions about three significant themes within curriculum theory: content, coherence, and control. We outline two positions from which these themes can be understood: Developmental and Educational Psychology and contemporary policy frameworks. We argue that within and between these positions, curriculum content, coherence, and control are viewed in different and sometimes oppositional ways. Following this analysis, we propose that a focus on 'working theories' as a third position offers possibilities for addressing some of these continuing struggles, by exploring different implications for how content, coherence, and control might be understood. We conclude that asking critical questions of curriculum in early childhood education is a necessary endeavour to develop alternative theoretical frameworks for understanding the ways in which curriculum can be considered alongside pedagogy, assessment, play, and learning. (author abstract)
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