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Illegitimate participation? A group of young minority ethnic children's experiences of early childhood education

Barron, Ian (2009) Illegitimate participation? A group of young minority ethnic children's experiences of early childhood education. culture and society, 17 (3). pp. 341-354. ISSN 1747-5104

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Abstract

This paper seeks to explore how a group of children, the majority of whom were of minority ethnic heritage, experienced starting nursery school in a setting where the majority of staff were of white indigenous heritage. The nursery is in a small town in the north-west of England, and the children were aged three and four. Observations were carried out over a two-year period using an ethnographic approach. Using critical perspectives, drawn from the sociology of childhood, postmodernism and critical psychology, questions are raised about many seemingly taken-for-granted practices in early childhood education, which the staff saw as offering legitimate participation to all of the children, but which seemed to marginalise all but a small group of largely white girls. The paper ends with a consideration of how early childhood educators need to re-examine existing beliefs from multiple cultural perspectives in order to reduce marginalisation and discrimination.

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