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Navigating the risky terrain of children's working theories
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
Faculty of Education, Te Oranga School of Human Development and Movement Studies, University of Waikato, New Zealand.
2017 (English)In: Early years, ISSN 0957-5146, E-ISSN 1472-4421, Vol. 37, no 4, 370-385 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

'Working theories' encompass children's theorising about the social and material worlds. This article looks explicitly at power relations involved in pedagogy around children's working theories by focusing on the teacher's control of what and whose working theories get unpacked and extended. From an analysis of four cases from early childhood education (ECE) settings, it is concluded that teaching strategies are related to possible risks of unpacking and extending children's working theories. From a teacher's perspective such risks include: undermining the ECE setting's rules; exposing one's own lack of knowledge or skills; or risking the relations and atmosphere in the group or setting. These risks affect how working theories are dealt with in terms of time – right away, later or never – and voicing, as teachers regulate children's ideas for example through making concrete, reconstructing or silencing them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2017. Vol. 37, no 4, 370-385 p.
Keyword [en]
early childhood, working theories, pedagogy, teaching strategies, power
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-126042DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2016.1191441ISI: 000415635000004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-126042DiVA: diva2:974667
Available from: 2016-09-27 Created: 2016-09-27 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically 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. 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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