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The Terms We Use! or What Should We Call it?

by Lilian Katz
January/February 2010
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/the-terms-we-use!-or-what-should-we-call-it/5019142/

It goes without saying that the terms we use in our daily discourse constantly change. Fifty years ago my eldest son started what we all referred to then as ‘nursery school.’ Today this term is rarely used " at least in the United States. I am not sure of the significance of the change over to preschool and Pre-K " as we say here in Illinois. Perhaps it reflects the contemporary view that the main mission of early education is preparation for school, i.e. ‘school readiness.’

But that particular shift in terms is not as disconcerting to me as the current tendency to refer to child care as an ‘industry.’ It seems to me that the term ‘industry’ implies some kind of factory in which raw materials are placed on an assembly line, treated with a series of processes, and ‘out come’ identical shoes or bottles or whatever. Indeed, the frequent use of the term ‘outcomes’ when referring to the effects that we hope to have is also consistent with an industrial analogy.

Harbin, Rous, and McClean (2005) present a very useful analysis of the issues involved in a booklet they title “Issues in Designing State Accountability Systems.” Included is a section ...

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