Bland dokumentationer, reflektioner och teoretiska visioner : idéer och diskurser om hur barn skapar mening i förskolan
Sammanfattning: How children create meaning in relation to their physical, social, and cultural worlds can be regarded as a central question, both within the traditional Swedish preschool discourse and within the Reggio Emilia philosophical approach to early childhood educa-tion. In the Reggio Emilia approach, the search for the meaning of life and of the self in life is seen as an essential human necessity (Rinaldi, 2006). In order to be able to capture the search for meaning, pedagogical documentation is recommended as a tool for making children’s learning processes visible and subject to col-lective interpretation and reflection. This documentation is regard-ed as a potential mediator between theory and practice (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 1999/2009). In the collective reflection on documentation, discourses about what can be interpreted as children’s meaning making are ex-pressed and negotiated. In turn, these discourses govern how chil-dren’s communicative expressions and actions are interpreted and understood. The different perspectives drawn upon in teachers’ in-terpretation and understanding of documentation produce differ-ent kinds of knowledge about how meaning is created. This may ultimately impact on the opportunities and spaces offered to chil-dren, both in terms of opportunities to act and communicate and in terms of the available ways “to be” in preschool practice. The aim of this study is to analyse the ways teachers talk about how children create meaning and signification in preschool prac-tice, within the context of working with pedagogical documentation. I use Norman Fairclough’s version of critical discourse analysis to discuss and analyse how teachers talk (realization and materializa-tion of discourse) in relation to social practice and educational policy context (Fairclough 1992; 2003; 2010). This contributes to the research field of early childhood education by providing a crit-ical and theoretical analysis of the transmission of philosophy and theory associated with the Reggio Emilia approach through work-ing with pedagogical documentation in a Swedish preschool set-ting. Fairclough’s analytical approach allows the way teachers talk about documentation to be understood as a dialectical lin-guistic realization of overall philosophical, theoretical, and politi-cal ideas and perspectives. The empirical data includes observations of teachers’ discussions of documentation from one preschool department with a Reggio Emilia approach in a larger municipality in southern Sweden. The empirical material consists of field notes and recorded audio. The ethical principles of the Swedish Research Council were kept in mind during data collection. Written consent was obtained from both the participating teachers and the parents whose children are featured in the documentation discussed. The analysis shows that in talking about how children make meaning in preschool practice, a discursive, and not always coher-ent, polyphony emerges. Ideas and discourses collide, are woven together, and are renegotiated. Three overarching themes emerge, which can be understood as reflecting different aspects of chil-dren's meaning making. The themes consist of talking about chil-dren’s interests, experiences, and meaning making in relation to the physical and social environment, materiality, and body. The children are described in diverse and sometimes contradictory ways. However, there is an evident overarching perception of the children as individually meaning making, interest driven, and with an ability to construct and evaluate their own knowledge and truth through an active, individual, and sensual experience of the world. Furthermore, the children are described as interacting with something more often than with someone. In this specific case, the emerging post-humanist or neo-materialist discourse seems to make the interpersonal interaction invisible. The docu-mentation also becomes a communicative link between teacher and child, which replaces communication and exchange of ideas in the immediacy of the moment.
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