Defining the concepts: What is pedagogy and what is curriculum?

Curriculum and pedagogy are powerful tools for shaping daily activities and interaction within ECEC settings. The former establishes the principles and goals that ECEC personnel use to foster children's development, learning and wellbeing, while the latter refers to the strategies and techniques used by personnel to offer these opportunities (OECD, 2021).

"Pedagogy can be defined in multiple ways. In a narrow sense, pedagogy refers to the practices and methods employed by staff to support children’s development, learning and well-being. It refers to the set of strategies and techniques implemented by staff to provide opportunities for young children’s development in skills, attitudes and dispositions within a particular social and material context (Siraj-Blatchford et al., 2002). Research emphasises the need to understand pedagogy as an interactive process between staff, children and the environment, rather than as a top-down process (Edwards, forthcoming). With this definition, pedagogy can be considered as subsidiary to curriculum, and a variety of pedagogical practices may be employed within a given curriculum framework. 

In the broader sense, pedagogy can denote the theoretical foundation of a curricular approach, setting principles and values for specific methods of teaching or interacting. In this perspective, pedagogy reflects the meaning and purpose of education as well as informs the specific modes of learning across activities. Thus, taken in this sense, pedagogy can both inspire and support curriculum (Edwards, forthcoming; Sylva et al., 2016)." 


  • OECD (2021), Starting Strong VI: Supporting Meaningful Interactions in Early Childhood Education and Care, Starting Strong, OECD Publishing, Paris,
  • Siraj-Blachford, I. et al. (2002), Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years: Report RR356, Department for Education and Skills, London.
  • Edwards, S. (forthcoming), “Process quality, curriculum and pedagogy in early childhood education and care”, OECD Education Working Papers, OECD Publishing, Paris.
  • Sylva, K. et al. (2016), D2.4: Integrative Report on a Culture Sensitive Quality and Curriculum Framework.

Last modified: Tuesday, 8 February 2022, 9:50 AM