Kei hea ahau ināianai? Where am I now? An examination of the positioning of disabled children in the discourses of long-day early childhood education and care centres in Aotearoa New Zealand
Lyons McAdam, L. M. (2021). Kei hea ahau ināianai? Where am I now? An examination of the positioning of disabled children in the discourses of long-day early childhood education and care centres in Aotearoa New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Education (EdD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14077
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14077
In Aotearoa New Zealand’s legislative and policy environment the concept of inclusion for disabled children is positioned as a human rights concern in which all children are afforded the right to attend and participate in all aspects of educational and community life; they are legislatively included. This study examines how the subject positions of disabled children are made available within contradicting discourses currently influencing and being influenced by the largely privately operated long-day early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. The study argues that a predicament has been created by contradicting discourses, confusing the practices of teachers, centre owners and managers in Aotearoa New Zealand’s long-day early childhood education and care sector Using Foucauldian tools of critical discourse analysis and the work of subsequent post-structuralist writers the study has focused on the understanding that subject positions are created and reinforced by constantly changing social conditions and circumstances. According to Foucault (1984), the normalised subject position is governed by what is deemed appropriate in a context and is maintained by those operating within it. Discourses are explained as not merely reflecting social entities, but as actively constructing them (Ball, 2013; Moss, 2019; Walshaw, 2007). Employing a Foucauldian lens to examine literature and policy back-grounding provision for disabled children drew attention to the complexities and tensions arising from discourses surrounding inclusion in the sector both at macro and micro levels. The discourses of neoliberalism, biomedicine, and developmentalism were found to position disabled children as other (ab-normalise) and normalise children presenting with typical development. Neoliberal discourse contributing to a view of ECEC as a business investment site (Kilderry, 2006; Meagher & Cortis, 2009; Slee, 2011) was found to be a dominant factor contributing to teachers’, owners’ and managers’ confusion regarding inclusion and presented as a discursive trend I have titled Enlightened Ableism. The discursive trend towards enlightened ableism explains the phenomenon whereby teachers, owners and managers speak positively about inclusion yet when asked about the possibility and practicalities of including a disabled child identify the presence of barriers with connections to discourses which privilege the able.
The University of Waikato
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