Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Curriculum and Instruction
This case study is an investigation into the ways a powerful professional education organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), historically constructed and promoted pedagogical discourses about social identities, social problems, and social change. The purpose of the study was to critically analyze a dominant early childhood pedagogical discourse that is constituted by public position statements published by the NAEYC between 1991 and 2014. Using a critical, intersectional, and sustainable framework, this study revealed a complex, detailed narrative of the ways the NAEYC position statements constructed images of social identities and social groups in relation to social issues relevant to early childhood education practice and policy, particularly those that the NAEYC identified as eliciting “controversial or critical opinions” for the purposes of “promoting broad-based dialogue on these issues” (naeyc.org). This study worked to reveal the ways that the NAEYC position statements promoted harmful discourses about historically and multiply minoritized social identity groups and supremacist discourses about white and affluent children. This study also emphasized the significance of positionality and reflexivity in educational research about equity, justice, and sustainability for recognizing the potential for both harm and healing throughout the research process. The findings of the study highlight the need for layers of reflexivity at the institutional level, the disruption of deficit narratives in education, and the need for re-mediation of traditional signifiers of quality and professional development in the early childhood profession.
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