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The pushes and pulls of pedagogy in the early years: Competing knowledges and the erosion of play-based learning

In Western Australia, early childhood educators have been asking whose agenda does early childhood knowledge serve and for what purpose? This has come to the forefront of debate as play as a pedagogical tool is disappearing from programs for four- and five-year-old children in favour of early academics through a pushdown curriculum. Such a trend was confirmed from research conducted with 200 Western Australian early years educators (mainly teachers) to discuss their most concerning early childhood pedagogical issue. This paper describes the educators' most significant concern, which was the erosion of play-based learning and the tension about the use of play as a legitimate pedagogical tool in early years programs. The analysis revealed competing knowledge about current moves in early childhood education. The knowledge shared by educators has implications for quality learning and teaching in the early years and impacts on children, educators, parents and schools, and in particular, early childhood pedagogy. (author abstract)
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