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"Drawing the leaves anyway": teachers embracing children's different ways of knowing in preschool science practice
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS). (UmSER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7273-5442
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. (UmSER)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5269-1451
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. (UmSER)
2017 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898, Vol. 47, no 6, p. 1173-1192Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explores if and how teachers combine practices of science and of preschool (children 1–5 years old) into preschool science practice. Views of knowing may differ between science practices, traditionally associated with masculinity and rationality, and preschool practices, traditionally associated with femininity and caring. Recognising this, wehave chosen to focus on how teachers’ talk constructs and relates to possible ways of gaining knowledge and reaching explanations of phenomena in preschool science. The analysis buildson two concept pairs often associated with gender as well as knowing: objective-subjective and logical-intuitive. The analysed material consists of 11 group interviews where preschool teachers talk about activities concerning science content. Our results show that several ways of knowing are possible in work with science content in preschool. These include ways of knowing more associated with subjectivity, such as ‘individual liking’ and ‘whole-body perception’, as well as more associated with objectivity, such as ‘noticing differences and similarities’. Furthermore, the results show that the teachers’ talk moves readily between possibilities associated with femininity (subjective and intuitive) and masculinity (objective and logical). This indicates that the teachers in this study have found ways to handle science in preschool that goes against presumed tensions between science and preschool practices. The results contribute to more nuanced ways of describing and thinking about science in preschool and pave the way for further development of science education in early childhood education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2017. Vol. 47, no 6, p. 1173-1192
Keywords [en]
Early childhood education, Science education, Preschool teachers, Gendered practices
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-127418DOI: 10.1007/s11165-016-9557-3ISI: 000416157800001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-127418DiVA, id: diva2:1045807
Projects
Förskolans praktik i mötet med naturvetenskap
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 721 2011 5657Available from: 2016-11-10 Created: 2016-11-10 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Utanför experimentlådan: kunskapsproduktion, tid och materia i förskolans naturvetenskapsundervisning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Utanför experimentlådan: kunskapsproduktion, tid och materia i förskolans naturvetenskapsundervisning
2017 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Outside the science box : knowledge production, time, and matter in preschool science teaching
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to contribute knowledge on conditions for science teaching in preschool. While Swedish preschool practices commonly build on children’s subjective experiences, scientific knowledge production is often associated with objectivity and detachedness. Seen from that perspective, tensions may occur when the knowledge cultures of preschool and science meet, as when science teaching is implemented in preschool. This thesis seeks to explore issues that are crucial for teachers to negotiate when they implement science teaching in preschool.

The thesis includes five articles that build on empirical data in the form of teachers’ talk (interviews, focus group discussion, project meetings) and observation data from preschool practice. The data analyses draw on various theoretical perspectives, including communities of practice and feminist critique of science as well as theoretical concepts connected to framing and agential realism.

The main result is that it is crucial, to teachers’ implementation of science teaching in preschool, that science content is open to children’s contributions. Further, the results show that teachers integrate several different forms of knowledge production when working with science content in practice. For example, observations and systematic investigations are combined with imagination and children’s bodily experiences. This goes against the presumed tensions between the knowledge cultures of preschool and science. However, tensions between the knowledge cultures are indicated by teachers’ unwillingness to interfere with children’s investigative processes or ideas about science content by relating children’s ideas to scientific explanatory models. Seen from a teacher’s perspective, it appears to be unproblematic to leave children’s ideas about science content unresolved, compared to leaving children’s ideas about social relations and other content unresolved.

Drawing on the results, I discuss teaching beyond the limited material and temporal dimensions of the science box, which emerges as a metaphor when teachers describe a way of teaching that they are not comfortable with. Further, I suggest that the concept working theories, which addresses children’s tentative ideas about relations in their surrounding world, be introduced in preschool science teaching, to ease the perceived conflict between children’s ideas about science and scientific explanatory models.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2017. p. 98
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 78
Keywords
preschool, science education, knowledge cultures, symbolic gender, working theories, time, matter, design-based research
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-135095 (URN)978-91-7601-708-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-06-13, N360, Naturvetarhuset, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Förskolans praktik i mötet med naturvetenskapMiljöer för naturvetenskap i förskolan
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2011-5657
Available from: 2017-05-23 Created: 2017-05-18 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Areljung, SofieOttander, ChristinaDue, Karin

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