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Images of the Child and Learning in the Early Years Curriculum: A Historical Overview

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Western early childhood education (ECE) curricular traditions have emerged from philosophical thought of the Enlightenment (late seventeenth to early nineteenth century). This entry is a thematic exploration of images of the child (for example, child as rational or spiritual being), conjured by Enlightenment philosophers. The image of the child sat alongside imagery used by these philosophers in explaining theories of children’s learning and teacher pedagogy. The authors suggest that this imagery has underpinned traditions in ECE including developmental psychology (DAP) and sociocultural models.

Enlightenment philosophers conjured a curious mix of imagery to help explain their ideas of childhood and pedagogy that, nonetheless, make sense within their sociohistorical context. Thus, this entry demonstrates a genealogical exploration of philosophical imagery that reflects a modernist privileging of scientific knowledge, individualism, and reason (empiricist trend). These were...


  • Early Childhood Education
  • Sensitive Period
  • Sociocultural Theory
  • Idealize View
  • Spiritual Meaning

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Correspondence to Lynley Tulloch .

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© 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Singapore

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Tulloch, L., Stuart, M. (2016). Images of the Child and Learning in the Early Years Curriculum: A Historical Overview. In: Peters, M. (eds) Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. Springer, Singapore.

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  • Online ISBN: 978-981-287-532-7

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