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Abstract

The goal of this paper is to discuss changes implemented in Danish early childhood education influenced by neoliberal ideology, and views concerning the new requirements for teachers (pedagogues) at private and self-owned kindergartens. The paper describes the historical tradition of Danish kindergartens based on children’s free play and democracy, allowing children to develop social skills and cognition through exploration and discovery, and giving practitioners a great deal of autonomy. The new trend in Danish early childhood education is towards detailed planning of work and accountability-based-assessment, which contradicts the traditional philosophy. It pushes teachers to create programs that develop children’s readiness for school and to implement teaching methods based on educational standards mandated by the government. The results of this research project, based on interviews conducted with teachers and educational experts, demonstrates the educators’ criticism of this new approach and their attempts to save democracy as a central value in education
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