Constructions of children aged under three years differ enormously across and within academic disciplines, professions, and research, policy and practice-related texts. Within early childhood education, for instance, ‘under 3s’ are variously constructed using signifiers such as needy, capable, vulnerable, resilient, unformed, sophisticated, knowable, measurable and mysterious (Cheeseman, Sumsion, and Press 2015; Duhn 2015; White and Mika 2013). These constructions are often taken up in ways that, perhaps inadvertently, tend to perpetuate dichotomies and the revisiting of debates— for example, about the ‘needs’ of infants and toddlers, and whether they are best served by structures that prioritise education or care (Sims 2014). In this chapter, I endeavour to step outside dichotomies and arguably tired debates, to ask instead, “What work does the construct or category of ‘under 3s’ perform — and with what effects?” In themselves, these are not new questions. Indeed, variants have been asked in a range of national, political, policy and practice contexts and from different theoretical perspectives (see, for example, Cheeseman et al. 2015; Rutanen 2011; Salamon and Harrison 2015; White and Mika 2013). Using the concepts ‘events’ and ‘order-words’ from the writing of Gilles Deleuze and his colleague Félix Guat-tari, I consider these questions in relation to the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) policy landscape [2007-2015] at a time of significant political and policy change.
|Title of host publication||Under-three year olds in policy and practice|
|Editors||E. Jayne White, Carmen Dalli|
|Place of Publication||Singapore|
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|
|Name||Policy and Pedagogy with Under-three Year Olds: Cross-disciplinary Insights and Innovations|
Sumsion, J. (2017). Provision for ‘under 3s’ in Australian early childhood education and care policy commitments: A metaphorical canary in the coal mine? In E. J. White, & C. Dalli (Eds.), Under-three year olds in policy and practice (pp. 205-2016). (Policy and Pedagogy with Under-three Year Olds: Cross-disciplinary Insights and Innovations). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-2275-3_14