23 SES 09 E, Mixed Session
The last decades, the international political organisations show an increasing interest in early childhood education. According to Dieu (2014), the interest of public policies for early childhood education has appeared gradually since the 1970s. Indeed, the ever-increasing number of women on the labor market has necessitated the creation of childcare facilities which are today considered more as a support for the overall development of the child. On the political side, the “Early Childhood Care and Education Network” set up by the OECD in 1998 was the culmination of the promotion of early childhood education in the international arena (id.). On the scientific side, the “European Early Childhood Education Research Association” (EECERA) was founded in 1992 and feeds research on early childhood education through conferences across Europe and the publication of a “Journal” since 1997 (https://www.eecera.org).
The political authorities engaged to the idea that providing quality education to young children guarantees better overall development. This engagement imposes then many societal expectations from the pre-school education, such as poverty reduction, a decrease of the delinquency rate or an increase of the employment rate (Dieu, 2014). Anyway, organisations have published numerous reports (OECD, 2017; Eurydice & Eurostat, 2014; European Commission, 2011) advocating the importance of providing young children with quality education. But what do they mean by “quality”? This is what this research attempts to understand through an analysis of international and European discourses addressing the issue of early childhood education.
In this presentation, we argue that discourses of international organisations on early childhood education diffuse a certain vision of the human being. To define this vision of the human being, it builds upon the work of Souto Lopez (2016) who shows that there is a European project of society. This project contains a certain vision of the world, as well as of European Union’s role in the European society and the function assigned to the national learning systems (id.).
Firstly, we will analyse the international and European educational policies related to early childhood education. This work aims to identify the image of the human being that the European educational systems have to produce. It study in particular the objectives assigned by the organisation through rethorics to educational systems, and the way in which these have to be organised.
Secondly, we will use the approach of cognitive analysis of public policies to try to understand the link between the European project of society (Souto Lopez, 2016) and the international discourses on early childhood education. We use more particularly the concept of “référentiel” developed by P. Muller (2000) who considers that societies build their own representations of the world. In fact, considering the “European social project” (Souto Lopez, 2016) as a “référentiel global”, the analysis of discourses related to early childhood education seems to indicate a proximity to it. Indeed, the perceptions of the world in terms of values, norms, algorithms and images detected in the international political rhetorics related to early childhood education presents similarities to the model built by Souto Lopez (2016). We could then consider early childhood education as a “référentiel sectoriel” in the early child care education system.
This research opens up many perspectives, notably the one focusing on the influence of if this “référentiel sectoriel” of the early childhood education on the national educational policies and at a more microsociological level, on the devices of teaching in the pre-school field.
The methodology used is the structural analysis of speech using TXM textometry software in a perspective of intertextuality. Through this method, the goal is to study the relations between the texts and their degrees of proximity. The international discourses analysed are those relating to pre-school education produced by the OCDE, the European Union and the Council of Europe (recommendations, reports, etc.). These actors have been targeted because they are the ones who have a real influence on the Belgian francophone education system.
The results seem to show that the "référentiel sectoriel" of early childhood education conveys the vision of a human being learning throughout his life and being a pro-active and autonomous citizen.
Commission européenne. (2011). Education et accueil de la petite enfance: permettre aux enfants de se préparer au mieux au monde de demain. Com 66 final. Dieu, A-M. (2014). « L’accueil de la petite enfance : une perspective internationale ». En’jeux. N°3. Bruxelles : OEJAJ. European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice/Eurostat. (2014). Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe. 2014 Edition. Eurydice and Eurostat Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Muller, P. (2000). L'analyse cognitive des politiques publiques: vers une sociologie politique de l'action publique. Revue française de science politique. pp. 189-207. OCDE. (2017). Petite enfance, grands défis 2017 : indicateurs clés de l’OCDE sur l’accueil et l’éducation des jeunes enfants. Souto Lopez, M. (2016). Acquis d’apprentissage et enseignement supérieur. Louvain-la-Neuve : Academia-L’Harmattan.
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