Politics in the Playground is a lively account of early childhood education and care in postwar New Zealand, following on from the author's study Discovery of Early Childhood (1997), which traced the origins of institutional care for young children in Europe and New Zealand.
The provision of care and education for young New Zealand children expanded significantly after 1945: while some 2000 children were attending free kindergartens in 1944, by 2007 there were 171,138 in early childhood education, representing about 96 per cent of children aged three and four. For Maori, early childhood education institutions emerged in the 1960s, but evolved dramatically with Te Kohanga Reo in the 1980s. In the decade of the 2000s, New Zealand early childhood policy was at the forefront of political attention and the country was regarded as a world leader. This updated and revised edition of Politics in the Playground (first published in 2001) now provides a commentary on that period.
The place of children in New Zealand's social history also makes this book a remarkable record of social movements. The postwar search for security, the radicalism of the 1960s and 1970s, the rise of feminism, the role of the state in social issues, increasing employment of women - all have impacted on early childhood education. The language of the debate has shifted from 'social progress' in the middle of the century to the economic terminology of the 1990s, and some cautious consideration of the young child citizen in the 2000s.
This is a classic account of critical issues for children that will interest parents as well as policy-makers, teachers, and students.