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This paper discusses the concept of cultural and linguistic capital in relation to early years education and care (EECE) in Ireland. Bourdieu describes cultural capital as a form of symbolic capital or non-economic asset. Linguistic capital is a subset of cultural capital and refers to linguistic competence and control of linguistic resources. At a time of great change in ECCE it is appropriate to consider the cultural references on which early childhood education and care in Ireland is premised. What is distinctly Irish about ECEC in Ireland? How do we develop an inclusive viewpoint that values the totality of our linguistic and historical heritage on the one hand, and that also welcomes relatively recent newcomers to Irish shores on the other? What store of early childhood language, lore and literature do we draw on? How locally connected are early years’ services in their own communities and districts? Putting the principles of Aistear, the national early years curriculum framework (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment [NCCA], 2009) and Síolta, the national quality framework (Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education [CECDE], 2006), into practice provides an opportunity to consider these questions anew. Drawing on relevant sources in related areas, the paper examines cultural beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that constitute ECCE in Ireland and suggests some areas for future discussion.
Mhic Mhathuna, M. (2011) Cultural and Linguistic Capital in Early Years Education and Care. Our children, our future. Early Childhood Education and Care Conference. Institute of Technology, Sligo, Ireland. 20/21 October 2011.