Examining the rhetoric: a comparison of how sustainability and young children's participation and agency are framed in Australian and Swedish early childhood education curricula
Ärlemalm-Hagsér, E & Davis, J 2014, 'Examining the rhetoric: a comparison of how sustainability and young children's participation and agency are framed in Australian and Swedish early childhood education curricula', Contemporary issues in early childhood, vol. 15, no.3, pp. 231-244.
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This article scrutinises the ways in which young children are described and supported as active participants for change within the Australian and Swedish national steering documents for early childhood education. A critical theory lens was applied, in combination with document analysis that looked for concepts related to environment and sustainability – i.e. the environmental, social, economic and political dimension of development, human place in nature, and environmental stewardship. Concepts concerned with critical thinking and children as active participants for change were used as specific dimensions of curriculum interpretation. The analyses show that, while both the Australian and Swedish curricula deal with content connected to environmental, social and cognitive dimensions, there is limited or no discussion of the political dimensions of human development, such as children as active citizens with political agency. In other words, children are not recognised as competent beings or agents of change for sustainability within these early childhood curriculum frameworks. Hence, these supposedly contemporary early childhood education documents lack curricular leadership to support children to contribute their voices and actions to civic and public spheres of participation as equal citizens.