A ‘Good Life’ for Infants in Early Childhood Education and Care? The Place of Well-Being in ECEC Curriculum, Pedagogy and Policy

  • Andrew GibbonsEmail author
  • Robert Stratford
  • E. Jayne White
Part of the Policy and Pedagogy with Under-three Year Olds: Cross-disciplinary Insights and Innovations book series (Policy pedagogy under-three year olds)


Notions of well-being have long been heralded as vital to the good life for human beings. This chapter considers the place of well-being in ECEC with a particular focus on the complex interconnections between well-being and the pedagogical experiences of infants. An examination of the place and purpose of well-being is critiqued in relation to eudaimonic and hedonic theorisations of well-being – theorisations that have implications for both the adult and the child. We explore the philosophical and educational underpinnings of a conceptualisation of well-being and use these to critique the contemporary observed problem of a lack of care, a lack of well-being, and the development of the early childhood teaching profession. We consider the competing concerns of care and education of infants and toddlers that are evident in the policies of the ministries of Health and Education in Aotearoa New Zealand. The chapter critiques positivistic approaches that seek to reduce well-being to discrete variables or checklists of health or happiness, and offers alternative views of well-being in terms of both an experience of well-being and a professional knowledge of well-being. Drawing upon the policy context of Aotearoa New Zealand, the final section of this chapter explores how the policy context can use simplistic approaches to well-being to avoid the important interconnections that exist between well-being and pedagogy. A key policy provocation that this chapter then engages with is: Should teachers of infants have a distinct early childhood teaching qualification? The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Starting strong II: early childhood education and care. OECD Publishing, 2006) notes that no “dominant core professional profile for work with infants and toddlers has emerged. This may be due to seeing the work as primarily a question of care, or in collective situations, as a question of maintaining health and hygiene.” We are not seeking to entrench any such dominant profession here, however we are seeking to create spaces of resistance for the dominance of some professional knowledge and educational traditions that seem to have made it possible to regard, for example, knowledge of health and hygiene as marginal (at best) matters of professional knowledge.


Early Childhood Education Hedonic Approach Early Childhood Curriculum Eudaimonic Approach Eudaimonic Perspective 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Gibbons
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Stratford
    • 2
  • E. Jayne White
    • 3
  1. 1.School of EducationAuckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.University of WaikatoTaurangaNew Zealand
  3. 3.Faculty of EducationUniversity of WaikatoTaurangaNew Zealand

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