Original Research

Infant and toddler educare: A challenge to neoliberalism

Margaret Sims, Elise Alexander, Mari Nislin, Karma Pedey, Lavinia Tausere-Tiko, Nina Sajaniemi
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 8, No 1 | a594 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v8i1.594 | © 2018 Margaret Sims, Elise Alexander, Mari Nislin, Karma Pedey, Lavinia Tausere Tiko | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 October 2017 | Published: 24 April 2018

About the author(s)

Margaret Sims, Early Childhood Education, School of Education, University of New England, Australia
Elise Alexander, Department of Early Childhood Studies, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom
Mari Nislin, Early Childhood Education, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Karma Pedey, Institute for Management Studies, Norbuling Rigter College, Bhutan
Lavinia Tausere-Tiko, Education Department, University of the South Pacific, Fiji
Nina Sajaniemi, Department of Teacher Education Early Education Section, Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland

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We contend that the conventions, practices and philosophies underpinning working with infants and toddlers provide an alternative way of viewing early childhood work, and such a perspective may well help to challenge the ‘wicked problem’ of neoliberalism. It is in this context that we propose that a deeper understanding of the perspectives of those professionals working with our youngest children in a range of different countries may inform a wider resistance to neoliberalism across all of early childhood. We seek, in this article, to share the voices of early childhood professionals reflecting on the manner in which they understand work with infants and toddlers, and how this relates to their understanding of issues related to education and care. We hope this exploration will lead us into further refining our argument that infant and toddler pedagogy has the potential to challenge the hegemony of neoliberalism in early childhood. Our dream is to steer early childhood away from the tyranny of standardisation, accountability and economic rationality into a space where children are valued for being, where individuality and diversity flourish, where learning academics is one (relatively unimportant) element amongst many others and where relationships and participation (and dare we say, happiness) reign supreme.


Infants; Toddlers; Neoliberalism; Infant and toddler pedagogy; Professionalisation


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