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How does matter matter in preschool science?
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
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This chapter explores the implications, for science education, of acknowledging matter as an agentic factor in preschool (Swedish educational setting for children aged 1 to 5 years). Reading empirical data from preschool settings together with Karen Barad’s agential realism, five examples are brought forward to address different aspects of how matter matters to science learning and teaching. These examples include how the ground and time of year matter to the scope of science learning possibilities, how friction and balance emerges in intra-action of a wooden bridge and children, and how modes of expression other than verbal language can be used to extend children’s experiences of rolling. The implications for science teaching are discussed based on the assumption that teacher power matters to what parts of the material world that children have real access to, and what type of intra-actions that are meaningful in preschool settings.

Keyword [en]
science teaching, material, physical environment, time, early childhood education
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-135092OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-135092DiVA: diva2:1096612
Available from: 2017-05-18 Created: 2017-05-18 Last updated: 2017-05-19
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. 98 p.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 78
Keyword
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: 2017-05-23Bibliographically approved

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Areljung, Sofie
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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Language
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