Spirit of Unity: the significance of Froebelian philosophy in early childhood professionalism

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In the context of governmental proposed changes to EYFS Statutory Framework and EYFS Profile (DfE 2019), there has been tension regarding beliefs about practitioners’ competency and the role of external regulatory processes. This is reflected in the EYFSP pilot report of schools’ response to Local Authority moderation of the EYFS Profile as practitioners welcomed the idea of removing LA moderation to empower them using their own judgement but also felt the need of using external moderation to ensure consistency between schools (EEF 2019). As argued by Moss and Dahlberg (2008), practitioners’ ability to exercise agency is restrained in the neoliberal regime driven by discourses of accountability and performativity. Meanwhile, early childhood professionalism is considered as a culture of care and emotionality, in which professionals are trusted and empowered to make professional judgement based on their expertise, knowledge and experience (Osgood 2006).
Froebel held strong belief about the three conditions of educational training - ‘woman’s heart and woman’s life’, ‘intimate union with genuine loving care of children’ and ‘true sense of communion with God’ – as ‘one undivided unity’ (Froebel 1840, p.49). Froebel also wrote, ‘I desire the highest life-unity for the blossoms of humanity, for the women and mothers; not an externally enforced, artificially planned unity, but one which while it grants to each one a firm retention of her individual personality, grows and develops from within outwards, blooming and fragrant’ (Froebel, 1841, p. 80). The significance of ‘Unity’ in Froebelian philosophy and pedagogy has been highly recognised by Brehony (2001) and Bruce (2012) among others. Drawing on existing literature and research, this paper aims to further interrogate the significance of Froebelian philosophy regarding the spirit of Unity in early childhood professionalism considering impacts of the UK and international political landscapes on children, family and practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021
EventInternational Froebel Society Conference - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Jun 20214 Jun 2021


ConferenceInternational Froebel Society Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • spirit of Unity, Froebelian philosophy and pedagogy, early childhood professionalism

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