© 2019

Democratic Policies and Practices in Early Childhood Education

An Aotearoa New Zealand Case Study


  • Provides exemplars from ECEC policy initiatives, pedagogical innovation, research and advocacy in Aotearoa New Zealand

  • Details how collaborative advocacy can influence policy change

  • Offers a critical, yet forward thinking, analysis of early childhood education and care policy and practice


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

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

About the authors

Linda Mitchell is Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education and Director of the Early Years Research Centre at The University of Waikato, New Zealand. She has built a national and international reputation through her research and publications in early childhood education policy, and has been a strong critic of the marketization and commercialisation of education and their impact on children, families and early childhood services. Other current areas of her research are assessment, culturally responsive pedagogy, and connections with parents, families and community. A main interest is in democratic policies and practices in early childhood education.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Democratic Policies and Practices in Early Childhood Education
  • Book Subtitle An Aotearoa New Zealand Case Study
  • Authors Linda Mitchell
  • Series Title International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development
  • Series Abbreviated Title Int.persp.early childhood
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019
  • Publisher Name Springer, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-981-13-1791-0
  • Softcover ISBN 978-981-13-4686-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-981-13-1793-4
  • Series ISSN 2468-8746
  • Series E-ISSN 2468-8754
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages IX, 176
  • Number of Illustrations 3 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Early Childhood Education
    Educational Policy and Politics
    International and Comparative Education
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