Double Impact or Double Bind. the Conceptions of Educational Work and Children’s Well-Being of Early Childhood Professionals in France

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Lucile HERTZOG, Université de Caen, France
Doriane MONTMASSON, ESPE de Paris, CERLIS, France
Anne PELLISSIER-FALL, Université de Caen, France
Pascal BARBIER, Universite Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France
Caroline BERTRON, Université de Caen, France
Double Impact or Double Bind. The Conceptions of Educational Work and Children’s Well-Being of Early Childhood Professionals in France

In the aftermath of the Second World War, and up until the 1970s in France, hiring “unskilled but affectionate” nannies, rather than “soulless technicians” was the prevailing expectation of parents turning to family child care programs. This model was progressively replaced by an education-centered approach to young children’s care, and young children have become objects of specific pedagogic action. The diffusion of paradigms promoting construction of identity and intellectual stimulation from a young age contributed to childhood professionals and parents expanding their respective educational roles well before children reach preschool age.

Day care centers and family child care providers are the two major types of child care institutions in France. This paper relies on a collective research in Paris and Normandy combining semi-structured interviews and direct observation, with professionals in day care centers and at family child care providers’ homes during their working time.

The paper analyzes how early childhood professionals define the educative aspect of their activity, and correlatively how defining and acting upon children’s well-being are a major part of their work practices. We specifically question whether injunctions to more ‘pedagogization’ are always compatible with how professionals conceive and perceive children’s well-being. This is especially relevant for analyzing moments when young children’s free play is abandoned in favor of supervised activities, regarded as useless, or replaced by a quick succession of activities. In this perspective, we address how conceptions of well-being and education vary according to the professional career, gender and social background of child care professionals.