10 SES 04 C, Narratives and Global Consciousness in Teacher Education
“The educational relationship as shaping a curriculum of care” is a two-year research study that has been shaped through the meeting of the lives of a teacher, children, families, and a researcher in a Kindergarten classroom in a highly diverse school in Edmonton, Canada. The study focuses on ways that caring relationships shape and reshape the curriculum that is created in the classroom by Tessa, a kindergarten teacher, and the children. Central are the threads of “world-travelling” (Lugones, 1987) that children engage in as they enter the classroom world, and the ways Tessa integrates those threads into her professional understanding, her awareness of needs, openness, tone, tact, and care possibilities, all of which influence the processes of co-creating the curriculum. Attending through a lens of “world-travelling” (Lugones, 1987), is supporting me to make visible ways in which different lived curriculum come together to shape multiple ways of knowing self, children, teachers and subject matter, and the broader contexts shaping the classroom and school. In this way, the curriculum shaped in the moment to moment interactions in the classroom is “an account of teachers and students’ lives over time (…) in which intentionality, objectives and curriculum materials play a part” (Clandinin & Connelly, 1992, p. 365).
As other studies show how teachers’ ways of being shape the quotidian experience of the children as well as the relational knowing and learning that occurs in the classroom (Schwab, 1973), this narrative inquiry shows how Tessa’s teaching practice is a way of caring for relationships that involve the curriculum making and the singularity of each child in a co-composed process. I am particularly interested in stories that show how children and teacher knowledge shape the educational and relational process that evolves learning qualities.
When referring to care, the first topic that arises is the need of being in a relationship. For me, care in an educational relationship arises from a way of being and approaching the other. This approach also favors reflection consciously or unconsciously on one's place in the world (Piussi, 2000). From this perspective, teachers aim to put into practice learning that seeks to connect with children's lives, trying to have them involved in activities that also connect with their needs and desires. This approach to the curriculum is significant in two ways: a) as a process that is generated and recreated in the classroom from the emerging requirements of the situation (Wien, 2008); and b) as a learning proposal that shapes the possibility for children to learn about, understand and intervene in the world they inhabit (Pérez Gómez, 2012).
Considering both perspectives of curriculum, the research puzzle for this paper is: “What are the stories and experiences of a teacher as she and the children co-create a curriculum of care?”. In developing three threads (living in-between worlds, belonging, and identity) that arise from this overall question, the paper also includes a focus on the need for these understandings to become woven into Teacher Education Programs through understanding the threads of care that shape early childhood classroom environments.
Narrative inquiry is increasingly used in studies of educational experience because it includes both phenomenon and method. As Connelly and Clandinin (1990) described, “narrative is a way of characterizing the phenomena of human experience and its study which is appropriate to many social science fields” (p. 2). This methodology concedes to study experience that draws on the relational aspects of the three-dimensional narrative inquiry space (temporality, sociality and place) (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). Thinking narratively and traversing along these dimensions, I shift forward and back in the dimensions of social influences, time and personal situations (Seiki, 2014). However, these dimensions bring with them a set of mediations that promote the discovery of new pedagogical knowledge linked to the educational practices that take place, as well as a certain release of the past and as an opening to future educational practices. Understanding ‘experience as storied’ (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Clandinin, 1985), I seek to change the relationship researcher-researched (the research is carried out along with) and to draw on storied experience as data, thus creating new ways of discovering and knowing (Pinnegar and Daynes, 2007). Through sharing stories of how the curriculum of care is co-make by Tessa and the children, I open reflections on educational matters that relate to the meaning. In July 2016, I negotiated my presence and participation for a whole school year (2016-/17) in the kindergarten classroom with the teacher. In September, I shared the study with the children through a storybook I created, and I asked for permission to families, with the possibility to reach them also during 2018. This research process required a ‘constellation of conditions’ lived and negotiated in a progressive manner and through the ethics of the research relationship (Noddings, 1984). This paper embraces field notes, transcribed conversations, artifacts, photographs and school brochures) in which Tessa shows her ‘personal and professional practical knowledge’ (Connelly, Clandinin and He, 1997), her embodied stories, and her ways to build a safe space and a caring atmosphere for each child, and her understandings of curriculum making. As I try to comprehend how she co-makes the curriculum of care with the children through my participation in the classroom and the five recorded conversations we have, we two are now co-composing an interim narrative account from where we are inquiring further, thinking narratively, unpacking and developing the stories into a research text where larger methodological wonders are considered.
Recent inquiry into curriculum making and the act of care in the educative relationship is profoundly significant, because “care for people and care for the curriculum are simultaneous and related in complex ways” (Long, 2011, p. 6). Tessa’s curriculum of care involves not only the curriculum contents but to entering into a relationship with children and their families, as well as with their ideas and knowledge (Donadt, 1995). Through the stories we have lived, told, retold and relived in the classroom, three resonant threads have come to light: the in-between worlds, the need of belonging, and identity shifts in their learning process. To Tessa, an important feature of her classroom is its provision for privacy and safety. “Some children come to school with a sigh of relief, shutting out the larger world, creating an “in-between world” where they do not need to face the vulnerable reality that are living at home” (March 2017). These symbolic spaces are mostly built to protect themselves, but through care gestures and trust we can travel together, showing them that they belong to a classroom world that also gives them an identity. “I can be whoever I want!” says Leo as he cooks a strawberry hamburger for me. Through play, children help me to ponder about how the things with which they surround themselves are part of their lives and identity. They play, think, and co-make the curriculum through their bodies. Similar to Noddings (1984), Tessa reminds me that the reciprocity and receptivity to caring for people is a work in caring for the necessary aspects of the educational learning process. In this sense, the paper includes a focus on the need for these understandings to become woven into Teacher Education Programs through understanding the threads of care that shape early childhood classroom environments.
Bárcena, F. (2005). La experiencia reflexiva en educación. Barcelona: Paidós. Clandinin, D. J., and Caine, V. (2012). Narrative inquiry. In A. A. Trainor & E. Graue (Eds.), Reviewing qualitative research in the social sciences (pp. 166–179). New York: Routledge. Clandinin, D. J., and Connelly, F. M. (1995). Teachers’ professional knowledge landscapes. New York: Teachers College Press. Clandinin, D. J., and Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Clandinin, D. J. (1985). Personal Practical Knowledge: A Study of Teachers' Classroom Images. Curriculum Inquiry, 15(4), 361-385. Clandinin, D. J. (2013). Engaging in narrative inquiry. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press. Connelly, M. and Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of Experience and Narrative Inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19 (5), 2-14. Connelly, F. M, Clandinin, D. J., and He, M. F. (1997). Teachers’ personal practical knowledge on the professional landscape. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13, 665-674. Donadt, M.D. (1995). A narrative study of art in teaching (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Alberta, Edmonton. Huber, J., Keats, W. K., and Clandinin, D. J. (2003). Children’s narrative identity making: Becoming intentional about negotiating classroom spaces. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 35(3), 303-318. Long, J. (2011). Labelling angles: Care, indifference and mathematical symbols. Learning of Mathematics, 31(3), 2-7. Lugones, M. (1987). Playfulness, “world”-travelling, and loving perception. Hypatia, 2(2), 3–19. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. USA. Pérez Gómez, A. I. (2012). Educarse en la era digital. Madrid: Morata. Pinnegar, S. and Daynes, J. (2007). Locating narrative inquiry historically: Thematics in the turn to narrative. In Clandinin, J. (Ed.), Handbook of narrative inquiry: Mapping a methodology (pp. 1-34). Thousands Oaks: Sage. Piussi, A. M. (2000). Partir de sí: necesidad y deseo. Duoda. Revista d’estudis de la diferència sexual, 19, 107-126. Schwab, J. J. (1973). The practical 3: Translation into curriculum. School Review, 83, 501-522. Wien, C. A. (2008). Emergent curriculum in the primary classroom: Interpreting the Reggio Emilia approach in schools. New York: Teachers College Press.
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