In this seminar, Dr Guy Roberts-Holmes and Professor Peter Moss will answer a question posed by a frustrated early childhood student: “Why should we bother with neoliberalism when we have to learn how to teach children?”
In their talk, Dr Roberts-Holmes and Professor Moss will draw on their new book ‘Neoliberalism and early childhood education: markets, imaginaries and governance’ (Routledge, 2021). They will explain how, like so much else in our lives, early childhood education and care has over the last 40 or so years been drawn into the gravitational field of the ideology of neoliberalism, and its associated theories and practices including human capital, public choice and new public management. They will show their effect on how we talk about early childhood; on the images we have of young children, parents, services and workers; on the way services are provided, through markets and private businesses; and on how these services, along with children and the workforce are governed. While acknowledging that neoliberalism is a formidable and entrenched force, they will argue that it is also eminently resistible and eventually replaceable, its credibility exposed by multiple crises including the pandemic and disenchantment spreading. At this time, therefore, it is urgent, in the words of the neoliberal guru Milton Friedman, to ‘develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.'