Democratic Policies and Practices in Early Childhood Education

An Aotearoa New Zealand Case Study

  • Linda Mitchell

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Linda Mitchell
    Pages 1-16
  3. Linda Mitchell
    Pages 45-63
  4. Linda Mitchell
    Pages 65-85
  5. Linda Mitchell
    Pages 87-107
  6. Linda Mitchell
    Pages 125-143
  7. Linda Mitchell
    Pages 145-165
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 167-176

About this book


This book uses case studies of Aotearoa New Zealand policy formulation and practice to explore early childhood education and care (ECEC) as a site for democratic citizenship and social justice. Addressing fundamental questions about the purpose of education, it argues for explicit values focusing on children and childhood as a basis for ECEC policy to replace discourses of economic investment and child vulnerability that are dominant within policy goals in many countries. A commitment to democracy and equity is a good place to start. Aotearoa New Zealand is of special interest because of its world-renowned ECE curriculum, Te Whāriki, which is based on principles of social justice, respect for rights and an aim to support children growing up in a democracy. The curriculum upholds Māori rights to tino rangatiratanga (absolute authority over their lives and resources). Yet, Aotearoa New Zealand’s extreme market policies and harsh labour laws during recent periods run contrary to ideals of democracy and are puzzlingly inconsistent with curriculum principles. 

The book starts with an analysis and critique of global trends in ECEC in countries that share capitalist mixed economies of welfare, and where competition and marketisation have become dominant principles. It then analyses ideas about children, childhood and ECEC within a framework of democracy, going back to the Athenean origins of democracy and including recent literature on meanings and traditions of democracy in education. The book uses vivid examples from researching curriculum, pedagogy and assessment practices within Aotearoa New Zealand ECEC settings and collective action to influence policy change in order to illustrate opportunities for democratic education. It concludes by examining what conditions might be needed for integrated and democratic ECEC provision in Aotearoa New Zealand, and what changes are necessary for the future. It offers a compass not a map; it points to promising directions and provides insights into issues in ECEC policy and practice that are of current global concern.


Competition in education Democratic education Early childhood assesment Early childhood education in New Zealand Early childhood education reform Early childhood pedagogy Parental choice in education Te Whāriki economies of welfare international policy comparisons marketization of early childhood education preschool education radical education social justice in education

Authors and affiliations

  • Linda Mitchell
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019
  • Publisher Name Springer, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Education
  • Print ISBN 978-981-13-1791-0
  • Online ISBN 978-981-13-1793-4
  • Series Print ISSN 2468-8746
  • Series Online ISSN 2468-8754
  • Buy this book on publisher's site