Brave New World (2)

Today all those new regulations and frameworks and systems of inspection and fines and ratios come into effect. We have the EYLF  (Early Years Learning Framework) or in Victoria the VEYLDF (Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework). We have the NQF; the Act and Regulations being brought into harmony across all states; ratios going down; qualifications going up.

Some of us are lucky enough to already be working in this way. We have to learn new language, and adjust our systems a little.  But basically we are already there.

But there are others who have a lot of work to do. They may need to upgrade qualifications in order to continue in the same (rather low paid) job they are already doing well.  They may need to answer to a whole lot of regulations that never applied to them before.  They may be facing financial hurdles as they try to provide the same service with fewer paying children.

As I join the conversation with so many other educators about implementing the changes we now face, I fear we may be heading for a Brave New World that references Aldous Huxley more than Miranda.

There are signs that educators might be oppressed by compliance regimes that add little or nothing to the quality of education, but plenty of time and frustration to the educator’s job.  There are grounds to fear that the autonomy envisaged by the EYLF will be swallowed up in long and complex mandatory protocols.

We know that middle management has its own logic.  Weber calls it instrumental rationality. We know bureaucracy tends to push paper-based tasks down onto the workers at the coalface so they can produce evidence they are doing something.

Early childhood educators are vulnerable to being caught up in a web of compliance that will leave them little time or energy to be the reflective teachers that we want.

Creative educators need autonomy.

I am worried that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.  I am worried that the good framework of the EYLF and the NQF – which ask educators to be autonomous and reflective professionals – will be suffocated by managers and inspectors and checklists and protocols that make educators scared of being punished for getting it wrong.

Fear is the enemy of creativity.

We stand now facing into a Brave New World in early childhood education. The next couple of years will determine whether we develop the kind of creative, reflective workforce envisaged by the EYLF.  Or if instead it turns into a minefield of minutiae suited only to workers who are good at following orders, but not good at thinking for themselves.

“Chapter One

A SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

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