Making space for ‘learning’: Appropriating new learning agendas in early childhood education and care

Karen Ida Dannesboe, Allan Westerling, Pernille Juhl

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Early learning agendas are currently being introduced in early childhood education and care (ECEC) by transnational organizations such as the EU and OECD. In this paper, we focus on Denmark, where such agendas interweave with a pedagogical tradition emphasizing a child-centered approach and children’s play. Based on ethnographic research, we explore learning agendas as part of practice in ECEC centers, pursuing the situated meanings of a learning program as part of everyday practice in ECEC centers from three different perspectives: of children, professionals and managers. Informed by psychological and anthropological traditions, this design employs an agentic stance and conceptualizes children, professionals and managers as subjects actively contributing to the co-creation, transformation and translation of policies in everyday contexts. Key findings suggest that the appropriation of national and international learning agendas in ECEC settings characterized by local traditions is an ambiguous process. On the one hand, the learning program’s structure can support existing professional practices and traditions. On the other hand, the program’s focus on learning goals and evaluation practices reduces the focus on pedagogy and supports administrative and political logics, which in turn marginalizes important knowledge about children and their engagements.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Education Policy
VolumeLatest articles
Pages (from-to)302-320
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • ECEC
  • Early learning
  • everyday life
  • participatory research
  • policy appropriation
  • social practice

Cite this