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TENSIONS AND CONTRADICTIONS IN THE DISCOURSE OF QUALITY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: POLICY DISCOURSE AND CHILDREN’S EXPERIENCES OF PRESCHOOL IN CHILE

Torres, Natalia (2019) TENSIONS AND CONTRADICTIONS IN THE DISCOURSE OF QUALITY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: POLICY DISCOURSE AND CHILDREN’S EXPERIENCES OF PRESCHOOL IN CHILE. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Early childhood educational reforms have been at the centre of Chilean social policies during the last decades. Within these reforms, Quality has become a key concept in almost every policy design, where it appears to be treated as a goal in itself, rather than a concept linked to a particular discourse of education. As this thesis argues, the discourse of Quality risks becoming rather empty in meaning. In this form, it serves a political strategy that allows politicians to speak in ‘known’ terms, without entering meaningful and critical discussions that might contest the meaning of the concept. In this setting, Quality is associated with a rationalistic, economistic and neoliberal discourse of education, which in the context of Chilean neoliberal policies in education has worked to maintain and reproduce the inequalities present in society. Adopting a postcolonial and feminist perspective, with a critical and interpretive approach to methodology, this research aims at understanding how Quality is conceptualised by key stakeholders and official documents. Additionally, I aim at understanding how such conceptualisation relates (or not) to the ways in which children make meaning of their preschool experience. I do so by employing a case study strategy consisting of one classroom of 3 and 4-year-old children in a public preschool in Chile, including observations and fieldnotes in the classroom, and participatory methods such as photographs and drawings made by children. Using thematic coding to analyse the information, key tensions emerged from the data relating to how practitioners and children are positioned in terms of their role in achieving Quality in ECE by the ‘official discourse’ as well as by how children make meaning of their experience. These tensions reflect power relations that influence how inequalities are maintained and reproduced within the ECE system. In response, this thesis considers whether positioning key actors within the preschool setting in an active role, may allow for the construction of spaces that promote resistance to and transformations of such inequalities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Miss Natalia Torres
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2019 14:59
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2019 14:59
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24725

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