18 SES 09 JS, The Practice of Inclusion in Physical Activity Settings
Joint Paper Session NW 18 and NW 19
The paper discusses perceptions and practices of child well-being in the local setting of the day-care institution, with a particular focus on a recently implemented well-being assessment tool. The paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork and is part of a larger research study that addresses child well-being from the perspectives of children, parents and practice.
Within recent years, children’s state of well-being in Danish day-care institutions has received heightened political attention and is increasingly approached as a phenomenon to be systematically assessed, evaluated, and acted upon. In 2007, children’s “well-fare” was written forward as a central aim in the Act on Day-Care Facilities alongside “development” and “learning” (Danish Ministry of Education, 2007) and in 2015 a tool for systematically assessing and hence categorizing all children’s state of well-being was implemented in the day-care institutions within the Copenhagen area (Mehlbye and Andersen, 2012). The tool does not present a definition of child well-being but rather seeks to encourage reflection and dialogue among practitioners, acknowledging that perceptions of well-being are complex, dynamic, and often contextually defined. Nevertheless, the rationale behind the tool is to ensure that all children’s state of well-being is regularly reflected upon and colour-categorized as either ‘green’, ‘yellow’ or ‘red’. It is the aim that even the earliest signs of low well-being are identified and acted upon in order to prevent the onset of later and hence more serious problems – an objective that is also crystallized in the heading of the tool, namely ‘early detection’. By emphasizing ‘detection’ and encouraging reflection and dialogue, a key objective of the tool is to make the invisible visible and to facilitate a systematic verbalization among practitioners and thus a move towards shared understandings of what it means to fare well. Ideally, this should lead to timely pedagogical interventions to improve the lives of children who are not perceived to be thriving. In this manner, the tool addresses larger concerns around the role of the day-care institution in early preventive intervention and in supporting socially vulnerable children in order to improve their life chances and well-being in the long-term (Petersen, 2015). Within a larger context, the tool reflects a growing international orientation towards measurement, documentation, and standardization.
In the approach to well-being, the research is inspired by phenomenology (cf. Schiermer Andersen, 2013; Jackson, 1996; Frykman and Gilje, 2003) and investigates well-being as a situated and relational phenomenon as opposed to an individual and ‘objective’ state; something that simply ‘is’. This involves a focus on well-being as it is experienced, shaped, practiced, and recognized in everyday practices, always already embedded within wider contexts of institutional settings, social relationships and political agendas. In the discussion of perceptions and practices of well-being, the paper will draw on the analytical concept of social technology (Jöhncke, Svendsen and Whyte, 2004) to explore the well-being assessment tool as not simply a solution to the problem of working pedagogically and systematically with well-being but also as a tool that activates particular perspectives, values and actors. As stated by Jöhncke, Svendsen and Whyte (ibid.), social technology is a practical art, embedded within professional and institutional settings, and always carrying a particular intentionality towards shaping ‘the social’. In other words, social technologies are carried out by social actors, realized through social relations and with social consequences (ibid.). From this analytical perspective, the paper will address the following questions: what logics inform practitioners’ perceptions of well-being and what signs of low and high well-being do they draw upon in their assessments? What kind of knowledge emerges through the assessment of children’s well-being and with what implications for practitioners, children and their families?
Frykman, J. and N. Gilje 2003. Being There. New Perspectives on Phenomenology and the Analysis of Culture. Lund, Sweden: Nordic Academic Press. Hammersley, M. and P. Atkinson 1995. Ethnography. Principles in practice. London and New York: Routledge. Jackson, M. 1996. Introduction. Phenomenology, Radical Empiricism, and Anthropological Critique. In M. Jackson (ed.) Things as they are. New Directions in Phenomenological Anthropology. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Jöhncke, S., M. Nordahl Svendsen and S. Reynolds Whyte 2004. Løsningsmodeller. Sociale teknologier som antropologisk arbejdsfelt. In K. Hastrup (ed.) Viden om verden. En grundbog i antropologisk analyse. København: Hans Reitzels. Mehlbye, J. and J. Andersen (eds.) 2012. Tidlig opsporing af børn i en socialt udsat position. Idekatalog. Det Nationale Institut for Kommuners og Regioners Analyse og Forskning. Danish Ministry of Education, 2007. Day-Care Facilities Act. Danish Ministry of Education. Petersen, K. E. 2015. Working with Socially Vulnerable Children in Day-Care Institutions – What Works? International Journal of Technology and Inclusive Education, Volume 4, Issue 2. Schiermer Andersen, B. 2013. Fænomenologi. Teorier og metoder. København: Hans Reitzels.
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