Gifted education for infants and toddlers in Aotearoa New Zealand: An insight into exemplary practice
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This investigation utilises a Foucauldian lens to analyse constructs of exemplary practice promoted by the gifted and early childhood communities of Aotearoa New Zealand. The study considers how the discourses promoted by these communities are contested or employed by the teachers nominated as exemplary. Power relationships between adults, children and government are explored. Historical and contemporary developments in early childhood education and giftedness are investigated. Attention is paid to competing depictions of the infant, the toddler and giftedness. Dominant discourses and discursive images within international research literature are analysed and repositioned in relation to the Foucauldian oeuvre of the study. Within the findings it is argued that the construction of the term ‘exemplary’ is informed by discourses of giftedness, a developmental discourse, an ‘expert’ discourse and a neoliberal discourse. The governance of giftedness and gifted education is identified as crucial to the construction of the term exemplary within Aotearoa New Zealand. The notions of ‘rights’, ‘social justice’ and ‘empowerment’ are problematised, and the dominance of the discursive image of the child as ‘confident and competent’ in relation to giftedness is queried. Possibilities for further conversations between early childhood teachers and researchers on the concept of giftedness are explored. The role of the government and of teachers in taking opportunities to promote situational change, with the best interests of gifted children in mind, is considered.