ERG SES C 10, Children and Education
The following paper shows a part of an investigation that aims to describe the practical knowledge of the Degree in Early Childhood Education students, who are experiencing pedagogical documentation for the first time in their training process. In particular, we place the focus on how the students understand, describe and define their childhood image through observation and narrative description in relation to the children of their reference classroom. This has to do with what Hoyuelos (2013) says; “education begins with the image of a child. An image of the child that reveals the human being indeterminacy” (p. 54).
This notion is built throughout life and remains in our unconscious defining and redefining our teaching role. As Sartori (2004) says, as it is a tacit idea, we are immersed in an uncritical way in it. This is how university training processes, often transmissive and academic, facilitate the coexistence of these unconscious beliefs that the teacher students bring incorporated with the theoretical constructions that are formalized. Then, it’s necessary to understand this period as a suitable moment for the development of practical thinking (Pérez Gómez, 2010), as an occasion to put the focus on the implicit theories "recycling" process. Those that, according to Pozo (2014), lead us to generalize and "universalize" the analyses we make of the contexts. This is opposed to the complex image of the school as "aleph, a point in space that exposes the universe of possible" (Duschatzky, 2017, p.43).
For this reason, the methodological proposal that we research is based on the conviction that “we can open ourselves to ‘a completely different child’ by questioning the discourses and constructions of the dominant child: a child with multiple capacities and a child who has thoughts and theories that are worth listening to" (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 2005, p.217). From this point of view, the training is an opportunity to question what they know up to that moment and begin to build, as Rinaldi (1998) explains, a theory that is nourished by practice and debated through pedagogical documentation. This research tool “implies philosophical positioning related to the image of the child […], roles of educators, usage of time and space, the facilitative role of physical and affective environments, and positioning of thinking within the local and larger community” (Fleet, 2017, p.14). This positioning leads us to observe what children do to interpret it from our pedagogical baggage and narrate it to the community for its subsequent public debate.
This movement is what triggers a transformation of the acquired culture (practical thinking process) on the pillars of reflection, inquiry and action (Pérez Gómez, 2008). In addition, when we speak of acquired culture, we do not start from the idea that the image of childhood is a purely conceptual construction. It has resonance in their practical knowledge (Pérez Gómez, 2017), that is, in the attitudes, values, knowledge, skills and emotions that are put into play in the development of the teaching profession. In this way, we put the research focus on how the idea of childhood evolves in students due to pedagogical documentation, through resonance in their pre-professional practice, as a prism of early childhood education teacher training.
The sample with we work is made up of a group of 5 students of the Degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Málaga (Spain), to whom their academic mentor proposes that they research what is happening in their schools through of the pedagogical documentation during their apprenticeship period. The methodological proposal was structured as follows: The students build their portfolios with the diverse documented narratives that they are capturing, and a reflective diary fed back by the tutor mentor. In addition, there is a forum where the group shares their documentations to be discussed with the rest of the partners. To this are added face-to-face meetings in which conversations that have emerged digitally were also continued. Finally, the proposal finishes with a final reflection written by each student and a documentation panel in which story is exposed together with the interpretations and theoretical analysis emerged from it. We believe that the only way we have to approach a proposal of this nature to understand it is through a qualitative approach (Flick, 2012). We seek "to migrate from a thought that expresses itself through terms and relationships to an organic language, where the terms are in continuous formation and disintegration, presenting themselves as temporarily stable states in the dance of a dynamic system" (Ceppi & Zini, 2009, p.142). Within this perspective, in this case we are faced with a case study (Stake, 1998) that seeks to relate what happens under the umbrella of the idea of childhood in the pre-service teachers’ practical knowledge. It was developed a year after the educational experience, what allowed the group to meta-reflect (reflections on their reflections during the proposal) helping us to deepen into the nuances that characterized the experience. First, we analyzed all the texts and images (Ruiz Olabuénaga, 2012) elaborated by the members of the group, which opened us to know what was embedded in their experience. These data helped us to design semi-structured interviews (Kvale, 2011) with the group and their mentor.
In the understanding of this proposal, the whole group agrees that their childhood image had been radically transformed. They even explain that this has triggered a shift of their relationship with it, admitting that “first they were something measurable for me and now they are... incommensurable. […] I think this has allowed me to find the validity of their stories is in […] trying to find resonance with them” (María). Furthermore, it is not only their relationship that evolves, but also the interest in other practices that give voice to the idea of “childhood you have, and that image of childhood must be accompanied by the protagonist child, or furniture that allows children to be protagonists. [...] A total change in each one of the variables of Doyle's ecological model” (Francisco). This encounter with the novelty is, at first, in opposition to the theoretical knowledge formulated since “they have been discovering the childhood that it is and […] not the childhood that the school tells them it is there” (Mentor). However, the reflexive movement sometimes transcends the limits of the "artificial" border between theory and practice to get in dialogue with what they have been and are now (Tardif, 2004). Therefore some consider a teacher’s task “relearning from their students that they were also... a human being still unconditioned [...] and, indeed, with a more independent thought, with a disposition towards the world that relegates limitations” (María). In conclusion, we do not formalize the concrete definition of childhood that they construct because what we understand is that it is contingent on the experience of each student, having in common the mobilization of this definition through the pedagogical documentation itself.
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