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Home arrow Geography arrow Global Perspectives on Human Capital in Early Childhood Education: Reconceptualizing Theory, Policy, and Practice

Concluding Remarks

In this chapter, my aim has been to examine the amalgamation of early childhood education with human capital theory in the context of Turkey from the perspective of governmentality. After describing the theoretical and conceptual framework that guided this study, I examined in the second section of the chapter the ways in which human capital theory was appropriated as a driving rationale for the current early education advocacy endeavor in Turkey. In this section, my attention was directed at the subjection of early education to the cost-benefit analyses, and I examined how such analyses function as an important technology in rendering early childhood education as a form of economic domain. In the third section of the chapter, my concern was with understanding the popular appeal of human capital theory. This section insisted that in order to understand why/ how human capital theory has become the leading frame that informs early education policy debates, it must be studied within a discursive grid that sets the possibility and intelligibility of human capital theory. As part of that discursive grid, I highlighted such discourses as child development and developmental neuroscience, longitudinal studies, at-riskness, and equality of opportunity.

The chapter demonstrates that early education increasingly forms itself into a problem of, and site for, regulating and ordering life in society by introducing market principles. As early education has assembled itself using the discourse of human capital, entrepreneurship becomes the pervasive model for how to educate, care, and live. As McNay citing Donzelot argued, “The ultimate aim of this pervasive entrepreneurship is to preserve the fragile dynamics of competition in what Foucault terms ‘a formal game between inequalities.’ This ‘equality of inequality’ is what stimulates market competition, and society must be reconfigured in such a way as to maximize the creation of inequalities, the only limit upon which must be that no one is permanently excluded from the game of entrepreneurship” (2009, p. 58). It is not a coincidence that many government-led early education programs have such names such as “Head-Start,” “Fair-Start,” and “True-Start” (or, the TUSiAD report’s title involving the phrase “Right-Beginning”). Embedded in the framing of early education as an (initial) opportunity equalizer for individuals so that they could develop their entrepreneurial capacity in order to manage and optimize their lives effectively are particular conceptions of society, government, and individual. This framing defines, and sets the limits of, governmental action as ensuring “no one is permanently is excluded from the game of entrepreneurship” and “universalizing competition.” The individual construed as an entrepreneur of her own life lives in a society in which “the homo oeconomicus-entrepreneur, . . . as entrepreneur of himself, has only competitors” (Donzelot, cited in McNay, 2009, p. 58).

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