Against the self-regulated child: Early childhood pedagogies in neoliberal times




Diaz-Diaz, Claudia

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Global Studies of Childhood


This article examines the curriculum and pedagogies for ethical practice in a childcare centre in Vancouver, Canada. I draw on Smith’s new model of childhood to examine narratives and practices around the ‘responsible child’ in a context where child developmental theories continue to influence pedagogical decisions. I argue that the elevation of self-regulation strategies as a pedagogical approach narrows children’s sense of responsibility to a mere individual trait. In addition, it fails to cultivate children’s interdependence and multiple relationships with humans and more-than-human others. Self-regulation-centred pedagogies also reinforce neoliberal and colonial discourses of the child anchored in human exceptionality, choice, autonomy and rationality. This article proposes that pre-service and in-service early childhood education needs to support educators in doing the analytical, embodied and reflective work to shift from educational paradigms founded in neoliberal and colonial rationalities towards an ethic that acknowledges children and educators’ interdependence and that cultivates good relations with humans and more-than-human others.



early childhood curriculum, neoliberalism, pedagogies, relational ethics, the responsible child


Diaz-Diaz, C. (2022). “Against the self-regulated child: Early childhood pedagogies in neoliberal times.” Global Studies of Childhood, 0(0), 1-12.