Democracy, caring and competence: values perspectives in ECEC curricula in the Nordic countries

Johanna Einarsdottir*, Anna Maija Purola, Eva Marianne Johansson, Stig Broström, Anette Emilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the study is to explore how Nordic Early Childhood Education and Care policies frame values education in preschools with a special focus on the values of democracy, caring and competence. The study is part of a larger Nordic project, Values education in Nordic preschools: Basis of education for tomorrow, the aim of which is to explore values education from various perspectives, policy levels, institutional levels and personal levels. The study applies Habermas’s theoretical ideas of communicative actions, lifeworld, and the system. Here the focus is on the system level, namely, values in national curriculum guidelines that serve as the basis of pedagogical practices in preschools in the Nordic countries. Thematic research analysis described by Braun and Clarke inspired the qualitative analysis of the documents. In addition, a quantitative language-based approach was applied to the study. Keywords related with democratic, caring and competence values were selected. The findings reveal different dimensions and meanings of the three value fields, such as democracy as being and/or becoming; care as fulfilment of basic needs and an ethical relationship; and competence values as learning for sociality and academic skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-114
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

Other keywords

  • democracy
  • ECEC curricula
  • Nordic countries


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