Critical perspectives and key concepts
Overview of the module
This module introduces important foundational concepts that we will work
with throughout the subject. It makes a case for the importance of adopting a critical
stance and introduces you to the ideas of feminist poststructuralist theory, power
relations and discourses. These are important tools for considering and critiquing
issues of diversity in early childhood environments.
You may find the language/concepts challenging or not immediately be able to see the
links to the field of early childhood education. Please persist! From past experience, a
lot of students report that they learned new ways of seeing and understanding
themselves and their role as educators through this subject. So whether you view this
module as “a necessary evil”, “a rite of passage”, or something to be patient with as
your understandings emerge, hang in there!
You may also find some of the ways of looking at things personally challenging – that’s part
of the purpose of this subject. We are encouraging you to develop your critical thinking
skills, and, to focus on your self as an educator, and how this self has been shaped not only
by your family, cultures, education and professional identity, but how dominant messages –
discourses – are involved in how you have come to be who (and how) you are. For
experienced educators, it can be challenging to focus on the self rather than specifically on
children’s learning. However, our hope is that this introspection will help you think about
how children, families and other colleagues have come to be, and what your role is in who
they are becoming.
Learning outcomes relating to this module
Recognise the importance of taking a critical stance towards the field of early
Identify and articulate the usefulness of using feminist poststructuralist frameworks
when viewing early childhood education
Identify ways that a critical stance can be exhibited in relation to issues of diversity in
early childhood education.
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