Big Expectations for Little Kids: The Crisis in Early Childhood Education

  • Libby Lee-Hammond
Part of the Explorations of Educational Purpose book series (EXEP, volume 22)


In this chapter, I will discuss and analyse the impact of consecutive government policies on early childhood education and care in Australia. The new National Early Years Learning Framework in Australia formally enshrines the early years as a time to play, to be, to belong and to become (EYLF, 2009). However, the national testing agenda and its push-down effect on curriculum serve to erode the precious time in life that children enjoy as free from the constraints and worries of the adult world. I will argue that ‘drowning’ early childhood play in a regime of testing and economic rationalism will have long-term negative impacts for the children involved and the world they construct and operate in as adults. An analysis of Scandinavian education will provide a contrast to the current regime in Australia since many Scandinavian countries adopt a very different approach to the early years, seeing childhood as a unique and sacred time of life in which formal learning has little relevance.


Early Childhood Education National Testing Early Childhood Teacher Australian Curriculum Online Interview 
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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationMurdoch UniversityPerthAustralia

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