ERG SES G 14, Teacher Education
Malaguzzi (1982, in Hoyuelos, 2013) used to say that it is much easier for a snail to leave traces of its own path than for a teacher to leave the traces of her work. In this simple way, the author raises one of the fundamental concerns about the teaching role and obviously, in relation to the pre-service and permanent teacher training: the teacher's vision as a researcher in her own context (Stenhouse, 1984). Is this way of understanding the teaching profession in pre-service education being integrated? Or are we placing "old heads on young shoulders", as Kemmis (2012, p. 158) suggests? Education is burdened with old traditions where the image of teaching was defined almost exclusively by information transmission, not knowledge. However, since the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, important studies were published suggesting that education improvement requires teachers to incorporate pedagogical and psychological theory in the analysis of teaching and learning processes (Korthagen, 2008).
This research incorporates the concept of practical knowledge to understand the complexity of the teaching profession and, therefore, its evolution (Pérez Gómez, 2012, 2017). We understand practical knowledge as the conglomerate of attitudes, emotions, values, skills and knowledge that are put into play, automatically and unconsciously, in action and educational analysis (the so-called theories in use by Argyris, 1982). Therefore, we need to incorporate experiences in teacher training that make visible, mobilize and make possible the reconstruction of this practical knowledge through reflective and inquiry processes. When this process takes place, we can affirm that teachers are reconstructing their knowledge and experiences through the development of practical thinking. This concept refers to the "conscious, reflective, contrasted and reposed reconstruction, of this same system of understanding and action that includes both knowledge in action and reflexive knowledge about the action" (Pérez Gómez, 2017, p.17).
How can we design experiences that promote the development of practical thinking and incorporate research on one's own practice in teacher education? From this point of view, this paper shows part of an investigation that seeks to know in what sense, introducing pedagogical documentation as a methodological axis in the Degree in Early Childhood Education, makes visible and mobilizes pre-service teacher’s practical knowledge. We understand the pedagogical documentation as a systematic collection and exposition process (Hoyuelos, 2013) of photographs, recordings, materials, videos, conversations, etc. that enlighten "flashes in the complexity of learning and students" (Krechevsky, Mardell, Rivard, & Wilson, 2013, p.58)
And why do we mention pedagogical documentation? Because, as the intense and rich experience of the Reggio Emilia schools shows, pedagogical documentation is a way to see teachers as theory-builders, as explained by Giudici, Krechevsky, and Rinaldi (2016):
Encourage teachers to go from simply executing predefined programs to become authors of their pedagogical trajectories and processes could contribute, at least in the field of pedagogy, to overcome the arrogant idea of constantly separating the theory of practice and the culture of practical fields (p. 145).
Therefore, inviting students to observe children places them in a position to do qualitative research "with and not about” childhood. “Thus, […] it is oriented as a collective search for insight and understanding so that we might more closely align ourselves with children’s own experimentations, research pathways, and ways of being and knowing” (Kind & Argent, 2017, p.86). This understanding is not carried out in an assertive or universal way, since it is provisional and contingent to learning events, since “understanding means being able to develop an interpretative ‘theory’, a narration that gives meaning to the events and things of the world” (Dahlberg & Moss, 2010, p. 98).
We face this investigation as an opportunity “to describe the individual and common paths leading in the direction of new universes of possibility” (Rinaldi, 2006, p. 101). Correspondingly, the way we approach this complexity is by a qualitative study (Flick, 2012) that tries to understand through a case study (Stake, 1998) the experiences and educative potentialities of a methodological design which main axis is pedagogical documentation. The group we focused on was composed of 5 students of the Degree in Early Childhood Education in the University of Malaga (Spain). The study process was developed during their apprenticeship period carried out in the third year. Their academic mentor proposed pedagogically documenting children exchanges and experiences in their reference classrooms for a month and a half. This initiative is complemented with: face-to-face seminars in which they share, contrast and debate the experiences collected or the uncertainties arisen in the schools; reflective learning journals that are accompanied by the mentor’s dialogic gaze; and a virtual space in which the students share and deepen in the meaning and opportunity of learning of their documentations with the rest of the group. The apprenticeship ended with a final written reflection closing their portfolios; and (at least) a documentation panel with a narrative in which the complexity and pedagogical power of the moment documented are deepened from different perspectives and meanings (teacher, childhood and school). The case study was developed when the experience was over (“deferred”). In this way we could approach the experience with a certain distance and without evaluative pressure, so that the group could freely reflect with perspective having at hand all the material they wrote during the apprenticeship. To this end, a documentary analysis (Ruiz Olabuénaga, 2012) of all the written and visual productions generated by the students was carried out, and with this information, semi-structured interviews were conducted (Kvale, 2011) with the group and their mentor. Hence, we also took advantage of their own productions, so that we could facilitate the connection between semantic and episodic knowledge (Flick, 2012).
Firstly, the mentor pointed out that when she when she proposed focusing on childhood, this necessarily incorporated the research role in students (Schön, 1998). This situation stimulated a more active and interrogative attitude that mirrored their teaching beliefs "because this also has to do with many experiences where students wrote diaries [...] and sometimes they were telling you a reality they did not even look at" (Mentor). This invitation to situate oneself differently in the contexts was for some members of the group "another way ... to see the teaching, to put yourself in another place, right? To be more up to children"(Nora). As a matter of fact, the group admitted that this "other way" of observing is not a function automatically adopted, since most of them emphasized the building process: “I started documenting... the typical stuff: children who play at constructions, children who interact playing... And little by little I [...] have moved, let's say to the sensory dimension of what is happening there” (María). This gaze focus links with to the idea of research of Cabanellas (2005) that distances itself from the "enchantment" to try to understand the nuances. In fact, they are so emphatic in this aspect that they go so far as to affirm that the "way of observing children’s games is not the same. You have to educate the gaze, train it, to get the most out of situations that are lived in the classroom without missing any detail” (Nora). In short, in the narration of their experiences we can see how the group, when faced with this "new" research role, look back (Pérez Gómez, 2010) to themselves to analyze how they evolve in the improvement of observation while they discover their potential to learn about the culture of childhood at the same time.
Argyris, C. (1982). Reasoning, Learning, and Action. Individual and Organizational. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Cabanellas, I. (2005). Territorios de investigación. In Territorios de la infancia. Diálogos entre arquitectura y pedagogía (pp. 181-196). Barcelona: Graó. Dahlberg, G., & Moss, P. (2010). Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education. Londres: Routledge. Flick, U. (2012). Introducción a la investigación cualitativa. Introducción a la investigacion cualitativa (3a Edición). Madrid: Morata. Giudici, C., Krechevsky, M., & Rinaldi, C. (2016). Haciendo visible el aprendizaje: Niños que aprenden individualmente y en grupo. Yucatán (México): Red Solare. Reggio Children Editore. Hoyuelos, A. (2013). La estética en el pensamiento y obra pedagógica de Loris Malaguzzi (2a Edición). Barcelona: Octaedro. Kemmis, S. (2012). Phronesis, experience, and the primacy of praxis. In Phronesis as Professional Knowledge. Practical Wisdom in the Professions. (pp. 147-162). Rotterdam (Holanda): Sense Publishers. Kind, S., & Argent, A. (2017). Using Video in Pedagogical Documentation: Interpretive and Poetic Possibilities. In Pedagogical documentation in early years practice. Seeing through multiple perspectives. (pp. 85-94). Londres: Sage Publications. Korthagen, F. A. J. (2008). Teacher Education: a Problematic Enterprise. In Linking practice and theory. The Pedagogy of Realistic Teacher Education. (pp. 1-19). Nueva York: Routledge. Krechevsky, M., Mardell, B., Rivard, M., & Wilson, D. (2013). Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons Inc. Kvale, S. (2011). Las entrevistas en Investigación Cualitativa. Madrid: Morata. Pérez Gómez, Á. I. (2010). El sentido del prácticum en la formación de docentes. La compleja interacción de la práctica y la teoría. In Aprender a enseñar desde la práctica: Procesos de innovación y prácticas de formación en la educación secundaria. (pp. 89-106). Barcelona: Graó y Ministerio de Educación. Pérez Gómez, Á. I. (2012). Educarse en la era digital. Morata (1a Edición). Madrid: Morata. Pérez Gómez, Á. I. (2017). Pedagogías para tiempos de perplejidad. De la información a la sabiduría. Rosario (Argentina): Homo Sapiens Ediciones. Rinaldi, C. (2006). In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, Researching and Learning (Contesting Early Childhood). Londres: Routledge. Ruiz Olabuénaga, J. I. (2012). Metodología de la investigación cualitativa. Metodología de la investigación cualitativa. Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto. Schön, D. A. (1998). El profesional reflexivo. Cómo piensan los profesionales cuando actúan. Barcelona: Paidós Ibérica. Stake, R. E. (1998). Investigación con estudio de casos. Madrid: Morata.
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