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Teachers’ views of democratic learning processes and interaction between young children in a Swedish preschool

Conference contribution
Authors Rauni Karlsson
Published in Canterbury 5-7 May OMEP EUROPEAN CONFERENCE 2016: The place of the child in the 21st century
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Keywords improving practice, observations, reflections, children’s participation, children’s perspectives
Subject categories Educational Sciences

Abstract

This presentation is based on a small scale study which explores preschool teachers’ everyday effort to improve their pedagogical work in a Swedish preschool. The research was not only on education but also in some sense was for education and to try to bridge the gap between research and practice (Biesta &Tedder, 2007; Moon, 1999). The background for this study can be found in my previous research and it focused on how preschool teachers can improve their practice with the support of the method and results I have developed. The teachers generated data during a range of situations and the research methods was documentation based on an open research protocol and supplemented with audio-recordings of children’s communication with each other and with the teachers (Karlsson, 2009; 2014). Research questions for this paper are: 1. How can teachers make use of observations of children's interactions to make visible democratic learning processes? 2. Which aspects of practical influence on the context do the teachers discern in the children´s interactions? Preschool teachers’ everyday practice consists of a chaotic complexity where they have to try to understand children’s point of view (Sommer, Pramling Samuelsson & Hundeide, 2013). This paper focuses on how preschool teachers can improve their practice by reflecting on their documented observations. The research project took an exploratory approach into the teachers' progress using group seminars, semi structured interviews, e-mail communication and documents. The seminar dialogues are based on a model of reflection (Gibbs, 1988); the group of teachers reflected on children’s participation, children’s perspectives and their own actions. The first seminar was on how the teachers could use observation technique to improve their profession; the second seminar was on how to focus during observations; the third on analyzing their observations; and the fourth seminar concerned the teachers’ conclusion and how they used their observations. During the seminars the teachers analyzed their own interaction related to children’s interaction and could discern approaches they never had thought of. The key findings concern many aspects of how power relations are communicated by teachers. This also gave rise to discussion on the consequences of supporting children’s point of view and the usefulness of observation logs. References; Biesta, G., and M. Tedder. 2007. Agency and learning in the lifecourse: Towards an ecological perspective. In Studies in the Education of Adults: 39, no. 2: 132-149. Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by doing: a guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford: Further Education Unit. Karlsson, R. (2014). Demokrati i förskolan – med fokus på barns samspel. [Democracy in Preschool –focus on children's interaction] Stockholm: Liber. Karlsson, R. (2009). Demokratiska värden i förskolebarns vardag. [Democratic Values in the Everyday Life of the Preschool Child]. Göteborgs universitet: Acta UniversitatisGothoburgensis. (Göteborg Studies in Educational Sciences 279). Moon, J.A. (1999). Reflection in learning & professional development: theory and practice. London: Kogan Page. Sommer D., Pramling Samuelsson I and Hundeide K. (2013) Early childhood care and education: a child perspective paradigm. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21 (4): 459-478.

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