The 'new normal' and 'new normalisations' in early childhood education policy in Aotearoa New Zealand
Learnings from Covid-19
Keywords:governmentality, normalisation, new normal, early childhood education, Covid-19
When New Zealand entered pandemic alert level 3 and early childhood centres were being ‘nudged’ to re-open in order to offer support for parents returning to work, the Ministry of Health advised both Early Childhood centres and parents that children were not at risk of catching or spreading the virus. Fast-forward to Level 1 and the Ministry of Health has advised that an infant, who arrived into the country from overseas together with its parents, had the virus and was in a managed quarantine. This paper discusses this apparent policy contradiction between guidelines and evidence by collecting and analysing discourses that the nation has received from government agencies regarding children and early childhood education. This paper uses these discourses to explore the 'body' of knowledge regarding childhood and early childhood education, discourses that make childhood and early childhood education possible. We then apply a range of theoretical and conceptual tools to suggest some possible conditions of early childhood education (leading up to, during, and post-Covid-19). We employ health and medical metaphors to highlight ongoing tensions for early childhood education as a patient for whom neither education nor health Ministries take sufficient responsibility. The use of a health as a metaphor additionally focuses this paper on the new ‘normal’ of early childhood education and education policy.
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