Child perspectives and children’s perspectives in theory and practice, dion sommer, ingrid pramling samuelsson, karsten hundeide, 2010 577

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Child Perspectives and Children’s Perspectives in Theory and Practice International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development Volume Series Editors Professor Marilyn Fleer, Monash University, Australia Professor Ingrid Pramling-Samuelsson, Gothenburg University, Sweden Editorial Board Professor Joy Cullen, Massey University, New Zealand Professor Yukiko Mastsukawa, Rak-Rak University, Japan Professor Rebeca Mejía Arauz, ITESO, Mexico Professor Nirmala Rao, University of Hong Kong, China Professor Anne B Smith, Formally from the Children’s Issues Centre, University of Otago, New Zealand Professor Collette Tayler, Queensland University of Technology, Australia Associate Professor Eva Johansson, Gothenburg University, Sweden Professor Lilian G Katz, Ph.D Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Education, University of Illinois, USA Early childhood education in many countries has been built upon a strong tradition of a materially rich and active play-based pedagogy and environment Yet what has become visible within the profession, is essentially a Western view of childhood preschool education and school education It is timely that a series of books be published which present a broader view of early childhood education This series, seeks to provide an international perspective on early childhood education In particular, the books published in this series will: • Examine how learning is organized across a range of cultures, particularly Indigenous communities • Make visible a range of ways in which early childhood pedagogy is framed and enacted across countries, including the majority poor countries • Critique how particular forms of knowledge are constructed in curriculum within and across countries • Explore policy imperatives which shape and have shaped how early childhood education is enacted across countries • Examine how early childhood education is researched locally and globally • Examine the theoretical informants driving pedagogy and practice, and seek to find alternative perspectives from those that dominate many Western heritage countries • Critique assessment practices and consider a broader set of ways of measuring children’s learning • Examine concept formation from within the context of country-specific pedagogy and learning outcomes The series will cover theoretical works, evidence-based pedagogical research, and international research studies The series will also cover a broad range of countries, including poor majority countries Classical areas of interest, such as play, the images of childhood, and family studies will also be examined However the focus will be critical and international (not Western-centric) Dion Sommer · Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson · Karsten Hundeide Child Perspectives and Children’s Perspectives in Theory and Practice Foreword by Kathy Sylva 123 Prof Dion Sommer University of Aarhus Dept Psychology Nobelparken, Jens Chr Schons Vej 8000 Aarhus Denmark Prof Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson Göteborg University Dept Education SE-405 30 Göteborg Sweden Prof Karsten Hundeide University of Oslo Fac Social Sciences Dept Psychology 0317 Oslo Blindern Norway ISBN 978-90-481-3315-4 e-ISBN 978-90-481-3316-1 DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3316-1 Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg London New York Library of Congress Control Number: 2009939616 © Springer Science+Business Media B.V 2010 No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the Publisher, with the exception of any material supplied specifically for the purpose of being entered and executed on a computer system, for exclusive use by the purchaser of the work Printed on acid-free paper Springer is part of Springer Science+Business Media ( Foreword During the last decade, the Scandinavian countries have been the scene of exciting research and new practices in the field of Early childhood education The authors of this book are leaders in a new, Scandinavian Early Childhood pedagogy They seek an understanding of what it is for adults to have a “child perspective”, and how that might differ from the perspectives held by the children themselves, what they call “children’s perspectives” The authors are key members of a group of researchers and practitioners who have worked together for many years in the Scandinavian countries to move beyond what used to be called “child centred” research and practice They share an interest in applying theories about the development of children within society to practices in Early Childhood contexts, both inside and outside the home This book brings together for the first time a detailed description of the new theories about child/children’s perspectives and sets them firmly within Early Childhood practices In fact, the authors aim to create a new space that lies between theory and practice, a space inhabited by those who go beyond the “new child paradigm” in sociology or contextual psychology In doing this, they have created something fresh and useful When speaking about education, Jerome Bruner tells us that “there is nothing so practical as a good theory” This deeply theoretical book has much practical advice to offer to those working in childcare settings This is because the new theory has been forged by a multi-professional team consisting of those who work in universities and others who work in childcare settings The book takes as its main topic “children’s perspectives”, including what it is to be a child (as the child experiences it), how adults and children can live together in a “negotiated” way, and the creative role of children in democratic societies The book is ambitious in its aims, far reaching in its theoretical content, and open-minded in its conclusions But perhaps it is wrong to speak of them as “conclusions”; what the authors seek with this book is a dialogue on emerging theoretical and practical frameworks for guiding Early Childhood practices They put forward their ideas to stimulate discussion and to receive feedback, i.e to engage with others in a collegial way v vi Foreword Child or Children’s Perspective? The term “child perspective” is used in many different ways and refers to different literatures that study and/or explain scientific or practical notions with the perspective of individual children in mind This is different from a “children’s perspective”, which authors refer to as the perspectives of the children themselves Although the two may sound similar at first, a “child perspective” is something that practitioners and scholars try to study using methods from the “outside in”, often including sociology or contextual psychology The children’s perspective is the view or stance of the child from the “inside out”; in other words, a children’s perspective is always expressed in the children’s own words, thoughts, and images More specifically – Child perspectives direct adult’s attention towards an understanding of children’s perceptions, experiences, and actions in the world Thus, child perspectives are created by adults who are seeking, deliberately and as realistically as possible, to reconstruct children’s perspectives, for example through scientific concepts concerning children’s understanding of their world and their actions in it This excludes all the theories on children and childhood that not help adults understand the world from a child’s point of view But even though child-centred, they will always represent adults’ objectification of children Children’s perspectives represent children’s experiences, perceptions, and understanding in their life-world In contrast to the child perspectives, the focus here is on the child as subject in his or her own world, the child’s own phenomenology This is what adults attempt to understand through their child perspective, for example in attempts at child-focused interpretations of children’s intentional acts and statements The Scandinavian Model of Democracy and Welfare The book speaks eloquently of the Scandinavian welfare model which has its roots in a social acceptance of a shared responsibility between society and individual families in the tasks of caring for and protecting the next generation The book argues that the new “children’s perspectives” are embedded in Scandinavia’s Early Childhood curricula and also in their notions of “good practice” The distinction between “child perspectives” and “children’s perspectives” is a golden theme holding the book together, a theme rooted in the Swedish notion of democracy and of “welfare” for all An intriguing chapter looks at changes in the developmental ecology of infants and young children in Scandinavian countries It shows the very rapid change of employment patterns for women, a change that took women out of the home and into the employment sphere while, at the same time, setting up an innovative childcare system for the care of children while their parents worked A strong Foreword vii argument is made about the “importance of the humanisation and individualisation processes” in Scandinavian countries, including the acceptance of children in these countries as citizens with certain rights, living in a society that is child-centred and values children as important members of a democratic society The welfare state is described in some detail, with its emphasis on welfare directed towards preventative and educative purposes rather than the “rescue” of individuals or groups Although children are not considered equal to adults in terms of capability nor power, they’re certainly considered equal to adults as members of society whose voices are just as important as adults A New Research Paradigm The authors report on a “reconstruction method” of research in which children are invited to solve intellectual tasks, similar to those of Piaget However, after “the experiment” is over, children retell, demonstrate, and dramatize their experiences of what happened during the experiment itself In this novel approach, an interview is carried out after the formal experiment is finished, and this is more important than the experimental task itself The child’s experience of what happened during the formal experiment is reconstructed in three ways: first, through telling about what he or she did; secondly, through demonstrating what was done; and finally, through role playing, often with the child taking the role of the experimenter/interviewer This very novel experimental method builds on the original Piagetian paradigm and goes far beyond it In this sense, children are truly “co-experimenters” in the study Using research methods such as these will lead to co-constructed knowledge about children’s development that will be a firm foundation for pedagogy in the future Learning Based on “Noticing Differences” Through much of the book, the act of learning is defined as “proceeding, seeing or experiencing” The teacher has a central role “making it possible for children to experience the values, abilities and knowledge she and society, through curricular and social discourses, want children to develop” The authors have a special interest in the role of adults in fostering children’s development However, they conceive of the adult’s role in radically different ways from other theories calling themselves child-centred One way they this is to have children discuss with one another how they have tackled personal dilemmas or real-world problems In the discussion amongst children, they will “notice differences” amongst the views of peers, and these differences soon become the basis for new learning in children, either on their own or guided by the adults viii Foreword Developmental Pedagogy “Developmental pedagogy” is described as a research-based approach that has been used in early childhood education by applying “phenomenography” The aim of phenomenography is to discover the subjective world of the participants in research and to discover new ways to develop children’s understanding of the world around them Phenomenography was developed by Ference Marton in Sweden, with close links to phenomenological approaches in European philosophy Developmental pedagogy depends on the teacher’s attitude: It is a way for adults to relate to children that is permissive and open-minded, but it still maintains an intention to enhance the children’s development through “active teaching” The role of the child is not to produce the “right answers” as defined by the adult but to reflect themselves on what they have learned Through reflecting alongside an adult (not under the direction of the adult), children will “see” their own understanding and perspectives In this book, the concept of play has a new meaning Play can lead to discoveries, sometimes scientific, as well as exceeding boundaries The authors believe that play and learning are different, but they are inter-connected through sharing common features In fact, they refer to “the playing, learning child” in one breath, so to speak In play, children create meanings related to their own perspectives, with or without the guidance of the adult It is the unfolding of play that is important, not whether in partnership with an adult or not In short, this book invites the reader on a long journey with theoretical twists and many practical signposts The journey begins with the Swedish welfare framework, continues with a serious consideration of the child as viewed by sociologists and contextual psychologists, before moving on to deliberations on what it means to be a caring, empathetic adult Finally, the reader reaches the heart of the book, which is a fascinating description of “Developmental Pedagogy” – a new way for adults to nurture children’s development by listening to their voices while still taking an active role to understand and extend their thinking This is based on participation as partners in children’s learning The adults learn too The book closes with some proposals for transforming early childhood education through democratic and participatory practice that is always closely aligned with research Oxford June 2009 Kathy Sylva Preface Peter (five years old) and his father are walking together to daycare The sunshine is reflected in an oil spot on the road “Look dad!” Peter yells: “a dead rainbow!” Children are remarkable people that interpret what they hear, see, feel, and smell and they experience situations in ways that not necessary will be compatible to the ways adults construe their world On the other hand, the adult’s perception of the child can be more or less realistically attuned to the child’s meaning making Perhaps forgetting how to be a child, and experiencing being a child, is one of the great losses of growing up But adults are potentially capable, emotionally and cognitively, of “taking the perspective of the other”, thus having the awareness and understanding of the other partner as a person with his or her idiosyncratic ways of construing the world Let us start, then, by designating the adult’s realistic effort and success in understanding a child’s world from a “child perspective”, and children’s own experiences and utterances for “children’s perspectives” Recently there has been a growing interest in child perspectives and children’s perspectives in Scandinavia and many other parts of the world These concepts have become essential in relation to legislation on children’s rights, in research, and in child-related professions This interest is reflected in an increasing number of publications: In Scandinavia, Norway was early to embark on this trend, and Per Olav Tiller deserves credit as a pioneer (Tiller, 1984, 1989, 1991) In 1991, No of the journal Barn [Child] was a theme issue on child perspectives; other important Norwegian sources include Åm (1989), Telhaug (1991), Kjørholt (1991, 2001), and Eide and Winge (2003) In Sweden Ingrid Pramling published her doctoral thesis in 1983, The Child’s Conception of Learning (Pramling, 1983), where the aim was to understand what learning looked like from children’s points of view Two years later To Understand Children’s Thinking – Methods for Interviewing Children was published (Doverborg & Pramling Samuelsson, 1985/2000) This book was translated into Norwegian and Danish and has been widely read by early childhood teachers Some years later the journal Pedagogisk Forskning i Sverige (Educational Research in Sweden) (2003) came out with a theme issue directly entitled Barns perspektiv och barnperspektiv (Children’s Perspectives and Child Perspectives) edited by Eva Johansson and Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson, where researchers from various social disciplines take stock of the field Child perspectives have also been addressed in ix ... Introduction: Child Perspectives and Children’s Perspectives – The Scandinavian Context Introduction The search for child perspectives and children’s perspectives takes its starting point in. .. Perspectives and Children’s Perspectives in Theory and Practice, International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development 2, DOI 10.1007/97 8-9 0-4 8 1-3 31 6-1 _1, C Springer Science+Business Media... a growing interest in child perspectives and children’s perspectives in Scandinavia and many other parts of the world These concepts have become essential in relation to legislation on children’s
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