This first issue of Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood represents the culmination of attempts to provide early childhood educators with a context for presenting work that engages in alternative perspectives from those used traditionally in the field. As editors, we are delighted to have the opportunity to make available online and fully-refereed, current research and thinking that has emerged over the last decade. What makes this journal unique is that it contains current research and thinking that utilises different theoretical perspectives from those most frequently adopted in early childhood education. Some of the articles and colloquia published in Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood critique issues that many early childhood educators have accepted as unquestionable. We view this journal as an opportunity to showcase current challenges. It will exemplify the disquiet of some with traditional approaches and voice the reasons for such concern. It will also present some of the creative approaches that are being used to provide theoretical and practical ways ahead.
For some practitioners and academics using alternative approaches in the early childhood field publication and dissemination of ideas has been problematic as there are few avenues for the presentation of such work. There have been a number of edited collections, or themed issues of particular journals that have provided welcome, but limited, opportunities for those wanting to share approaches in new and contemporary ways. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood fills this void as it provides a context for extending the dialogue about current issues by incorporating a wide range of theoretical and practical alternatives. We seek submissions that adopt such perspectives and that can also take advantage of the technology available with online publications. While the purpose of the journal is to display current work that involves practical and theoretical alternatives, we are specifically encouraging teachers and postgraduate students to contribute to this ongoing quest.
In each issue of Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood the content will contain a variety of formats that include articles, colloquia and book reviews.
In this first issue, Valerie Walkerdine explores the issue of adult sexuality and considers recent anxiety about children, the status of childhood and the status of adult sexuality in relation to its object, that is, young children. Di Catherwood presents new information about brain research in very young children and discusses how this research can aid understandings about ways in which very young children learn. The article concludes with some issues for consideration for those who work with young children and their families. Gaile Cannella discusses the hierarchical power that adults exert over the child and posits that we need to consider new (educational) discourses in order to deliberate the structure and shape of the education system. Doug Clements challenges the accepted doctrine of traditional pedagogical sequences in mathematics education and presents an alternative conceptualisation of manipulatives that requires us to think of new ways in which to view the notion of concrete materials for learning. Richard Johnson uses the Reggio Emilia doctrine to problematise larger issues in early childhood. In his analysis of Reggio Emilia, Johnson uses cargo cult theory in conjunction with notions of colonisation, tourism and normative practices of the early childhood field. In the final article, Chris Woodrow & Marie Brennan discuss how the ideology of the market has influenced a newly mandated curriculum document for children in the year before compulsory schooling in an Australian state. The analysis extends to the associated professional development for principals and teachers.
Colloquia have been included in order to facilitate discussion about topical issues in early childhood education. In this issue we have two colloquia. In the first Carmen Luke examines popular culture and reviews the various contexts and concepts of childhood historically. She then raises and discusses four critical issues that should concern us, as educators in contemporary times. Felicity McArdle makes an argument for interrogating the discourses associated with young children and art education. She examines her disquiet about what constitutes appropriate practice in her field and describes the research that she has embarked upon which explores the varying contexts and practices associated with the teaching of art in the early childhood years.
This issue also contains three book reviews that focus on recent additions to the field. J. Amos Hatch reviews Gaile Cannella's (1997) Deconstructing Early Childhood Education: social justice and revolution, Carmel Diezmann examines an edited collection entitled Gender in Early Childhood (Yelland, 1998) and Sharon Ryan reviews Theorizing Childhood, by James et al (1998).
We have attempted in this first issue to bring together a variety of people and pieces of writing that exemplify ways in which traditional practice is being challenged. We feel that the diverse, eclectic and exciting contributions showcase new directions for early childhood for the new millennium and we feel optimistic about travelling the road ahead with you.