Seminar: Challenging Negative Perceptions around the ‘African Child’, 12-12.45pm Monday 12th July 2021 (free, online)

Evelyn Corrado, Roehampton University & Leena Robertson

Contemporary childhood studies have portrayed the ‘African child’ as one who is vulnerable and disadvantaged. The developing world construct is a ‘western’ preconceived label, which shapes a universal deprived position for Africans. Nonetheless, this dichotomy is not representative of most African childhoods, which are comfortable and remain unveiled.

The chapter argues that there is need to restructure the African childhood outlook, drawing from their perspectives. A critical analysis will concern the discourses of the ‘African child’ produced by the universal childhood theories, the African childhood accounts and also the current economic and social positions of Africa. The conclusion contends that the African childhood constructions should be re-assessed through ethnography and robust education, for emancipation. This supports the UN Convention rights of the Child’s recognition of children’s right of self-determination.

Dr Evelyn Wandia Corrado Bio 

Dr Evelyn Corrado is a Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Froebel College in the University of Roehampton. She is a Fellow of Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Evelyn study background is Psychology (MSc and BSc) and Sociology of Education. Her Ph.D. research explored dialogic pedagogies in Kenya. Evelyn grew up in Kenya and has a tremendous social-cultural understanding of the African context, which informs her work. Previously, Evelyn worked in UK Mental Health Sector for 9 years and later as an academic tutor at Middlesex University for four years (in the BA Education program).

 

Seminar: Hybrid-Transitions as a Space for Children’s Agency. A Case-Study from a Pre-kindergarten in Boston. 12-12.45pm Monday 28th June 2021 (free, online)

Angela Scollan, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood, Middlesex University

This contribution presents an innovative concept, hybrid-transitions, as a theoretical tool to explore transitions between the digital and non-digital worlds as spaces at the intersection of young children’s agency and the limitations imposed by their position in society. Following a discussion of the idea that the passage between digital worlds and non-digital worlds during the using of technologies by groups of young children is a dense and social space, rather than a mere temporal sequence, the contribution will illustrate its theoretical argument using empirical data, collected during the observation of digital practices in a pre-kindergarten in the City of Boston. In particular, the examples provided suggest that children’s agency may be expressed in form of authorship of narratives based on personal memories and knowledge, evolving into collective interlaced narrative during peer-interaction. In the conclusion, it is argued that adults should carefully observe hybrid transitional spaces, and immerse themselves into the worlds and realms children construct and visit, in order to appreciate and promote children’s creative and, often unseen, social skills.

Bio: Angela Scollan is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies and Education Studies at Middlesex University. Previously, she has worked as a Manager and Foundation Degree Coordinator in a Further Education College and as a freelance Early Years Ofsted Inspector. In 2010, Angela opened her own training company, ‘Emerald Early Years and Education’, offering bespoke training and CPD to promote high-quality, sustainable, and reflective early years leadership and provision. Since the early 1990s, Angela has worked directly with and for children positioning her practice within a transdisciplinary approach and as a rights-based advocate. Her teaching philosophy, research and writing focus on the child first whilst touching on an array of themes relevant to education and care: adults-children interactions; rights-based pedagogies, leadership and management, self-determination, reflective practice, critical education studies, environments and partnerships that enable. As an activist against educational disadvantage, Angela has worked with many local authorities to support inclusion and equality in education across England towards enhanced social mobility. Angela has recently undertaken research with an EU-funded project, observing how facilitation and the use of visual materials can encourage the production of shared memories and dialogue in intercultural educational settings.

Video: Social Leadership in Early Childhood Education – An introduction with Dr Mona Sakr (recorded seminar from Monday 17th May 2021)

Unfortunately, our recording began a few minutes into the presentation. The first slides provide an overview of the talk and explain that this is a joint research project between Dr Mona Sakr and June O’Sullivan MBE, CEO of London Early Years Foundation.

Why do we need more social leaders in early childhood education?

How can we work towards social justice through early childhood education?

How do leaders in early childhood education embed a social purpose and social pedagogy?

Social leaders approach early childhood education (ECE) as an opportunity to contribute to social justice. They blend the skills of pedagogical leadership, making social change and entrepreneurship in order to create ECE organisations that drive social change for children and families living in disadvantage. In this seminar, Dr Mona Sakr will present her recent research on social leadership in ECE, which has been conducted in close partnership with June O’Sullivan MBE (CEO of London Early Years Foundation; LEYF). The research focuses on the in-depth analysis of the practices of LEYF and 15 interviews with global leaders in ECE, driving social change through the organisations they lead. The seminar will explain why we need more social leadership in ECE, how social leadership works, and what it looks and feels like on the ground.

Dr Mona Sakr researches early childhood education, with a current focus on leadership, workforce development and organisational climate.

Down the Back of a Chair: What does a method of scrabbling with Le Guin’s ‘Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’ offer conceptualisations of ‘the child’ in the Anthropocene? (Childhood and Society Seminar, 12-12.45pm Monday 14th June 2021, free, online)

In this paper we work with Ursula Le Guin’s (1986) Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction to offer a reconfiguration of ‘the book’ in early childhood contexts. By attending to the relational agencies that are generated from messy entanglements of reader-book-child-chair-cat-lice-mites…we are compelled to feel our way round to arrive at other ideas about what books are, what books do and what else they might potentiate in contemporary imaginations of ‘the child’. Le Guin retells the story of human origin by redefining technology as a cultural ‘carrier bag’ rather than a weapon of domination. She argues that the bag is recipient, holder, story, sack – for holding words-; in turn, ‘words hold things.’ The carrier bag theory allows room for everything and everyone. This generous and generative mode of enquiry frees us from the limitations of the linear, heroic anthropocentric/phallogocentric (Braidotti, 2013) narrative and instead opens up opportunities to explore stories with no happy-ever-after but instead embrace speculations about what else unfolds as we forage and gather along the way. We offer a scrabbling methodology: fragments of stories and sketches from imaginative and ‘real’ reading experiences coalesce with a method of scrabbling ‘down the back of the chair’ (both literally and metaphorically). This feminist methodology attunes to assemblages of odds and ends, hair and dust mites, children’s literature and child readers and facilitates a deep exploration of the intersectional, spatial, relational meanings that might tell us something else about childhood in the Anthropocene.

Victoria de Rijke & Jayne Osgood

Dr Abele Longo to present on Danilo Dolci’s Ecological Maieutics at the University of Turin

Dr Abele Longo has been invited by Professor Emanuela Guarcello, course leader of “Istituzioni e storia della pedagogia contemporanea”  at the University of Turin, to deliver a seminar on 19 May on Danilo Dolci’s Ecological Maieutics and its application in the Mirto Education Centre.

This follows on from Abele’s popular seminar (as part of the Childhood and Society seminar series for CERS) on Danilo Dolci, which you can watch here.

If you are interested in attending Abele’s presentation at the University of Turin, please contact Professor Guarcello at emanuela.guarcello@unito.it.

Seminar: Social Leadership in Early Childhood Education – An introduction with Dr Mona Sakr, 12-12.45pm London Time, Monday 17th May (free, online)

Why do we need more social leaders in early childhood education?

How can we work towards social justice through early childhood education?

How do leaders in early childhood education embed a social purpose and social pedagogy?

Social leaders approach early childhood education (ECE) as an opportunity to contribute to social justice. They blend the skills of pedagogical leadership, making social change and entrepreneurship in order to create ECE organisations that drive social change for children and families living in disadvantage. In this seminar, Dr Mona Sakr will present her recent research on social leadership in ECE, which has been conducted in close partnership with June O’Sullivan MBE (CEO of London Early Years Foundation; LEYF). The research focuses on the in-depth analysis of the practices of LEYF and 15 interviews with global leaders in ECE, driving social change through the organisations they lead. The seminar will explain why we need more social leadership in ECE, how social leadership works, and what it looks and feels like on the ground.

Dr Mona Sakr researches early childhood education, with a current focus on leadership, workforce development and organisational climate.

Figuring gender in early childhood with animal figurines – pursuing tentacular stories about global childhoods in the Anthropocene. 12-12.45pm, Monday 19th April 2021 (free, online)

This paper considers the potential that a feminist new materialist theoretical framework makes to undertaking research into global childhoods as they materialise through everyday encounters with learning materials in a nursery classroom in London, UK. We trouble prevailing philosophies, pedagogies and worldviews that both frame practice and circulate within the nursery classroom. We then go on to pursue tentacular, diffractive lines of enquiry that open out understandings of childhood that view it as inextricably interwoven through endless worldly connections to non-innocent matters such as heteronormativity, capitalist manufacturing, industrial farming and meat eating. Inspired by Haraway (1988) we rely upon our situated knowledges and partial perspectives to activate this mode of enquiry as both unsettling and generative. By taking matter seriously we agitate a curious set of speculative questions about the (non-)innocence of childhood and how gender manifests in unanticipated ways in early childhood contexts and beyond.

Bio: Dr Jayne Osgood is Professor of Education (Early Years & Gender) based at the Centre for Education Research & Scholarship, Middlesex University. Her present methodologies and research practices are framed by feminist new materialism. Through her work she seeks to maintain a concern with issues of social justice and to critically engage with early childhood policy, curricular frameworks and pedagogical approaches. Through her work she seeks to extend understandings of the workforce, families, ‘the child’ and ‘childhood’ in early years contexts. She has published extensively within the postmodernist paradigm including Special Issues of the journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood (2006, 2016 and 2017) and Narratives from the Nursery: negotiating professional identities in Early Childhood (Routledge, 2012) and currently Feminist Thought in Childhood Research (Bloomsbury Series). She is a member of several editorial boards including Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, British Education Research Journal, and is Co-Editor of Gender & Education Journal and Co-Editor of Reconceptualising Education Research Methodology.

Bio: Sid Mohandas is a former Montessori educator and teacher trainer. He is also the founder of The Male Montessorian. Sid is currently doing his doctorate at Middlesex University investigating how gender materialises in Montessori spaces using feminist ’new’ materialist and decolonial theories.

Video online: Shaping curricula through pedagogical innovation: Facilitation of young children’s narratives in the classroom – a free online Childhood & Society seminar, Monday 22nd March 2021

This presentation discusses data produced through the video-observation of workshops in two Primary Schools in London. The workshops were part of an action-research project for a doctoral research and took place in one Year 3 class and one Reception class in each school. The action-research implemented children’s collection and production of photographs related to their own memories and life stories. During workshops, children were invited to share and negotiate their memories in the classroom, starting from the presentation of photographs related to those memories. Children’s narratives were supported by facilitative techniques aimed to promote dialogic interactions. Facilitation enables children and teachers to make significant contributions to learning, supporting children’s thinking in moving forward creatively and independently through different areas of teaching and learning, in particular in oral communication, PSE, Intercultural Education and Citizenship. 

A pivotal phase of any action-research consists in the evaluation of the intervention, in the case of this doctoral research the evaluation concerns the facilitation of children’s active participation in the workshops. Based on the analysis of video-data, this presentation considers an important aspect of facilitation: facilitators’ comment on children’s narratives. Using examples from workshop interactions, the presentation argues that a type of facilitators’ comments, narrative comments, is particularly effective during workshops to support children’s participation and production of narratives. Narrative comments are stories produced by facilitators concerning his or her personal experiences that are somehow connected to the ongoing child’s narratives. Narrative comments aim to create trust, interpersonal connections, and dialogic opportunities. The presentation will argue that personal comments can support facilitation to achieve a form of rights-based pedagogy where children’s voices are promoted and empowered. 

Bio: Angela Scollan is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies and Education Studies at Middlesex University. Previously, she has worked as a Manager and Foundation Degree Coordinator in a Further Education College and as a freelance Early Years Ofsted Inspector. In 2010, Angela opened her own training company, ‘Emerald Early Years and Education’, offering bespoke training and CPD to promote high-quality, sustainable, and reflective early years leadership and provision. Since the early 1990s, Angela has worked directly with and for children positioning her practice within a transdisciplinary approach and as a rights-based advocate. Her teaching philosophy, research and writing focus on the child first whilst touching on an array of themes relevant to education and care: adults-children interactions; rights-based pedagogies, leadership and management, self-determination, reflective practice, critical education studies, environments and partnerships that enable. As an activist against educational disadvantage, Angela has worked with many local authorities to support inclusion and equality in education across England towards enhanced social mobility. Angela has recently undertaken research with an EU-funded project, observing how facilitation and the use of visual materials can encourage the production of shared memories and dialogue in intercultural educational settings.

Video: ‘Worlding’ in Early Childhood Research: An interactive, introductory workshop with Professor Jayne Osgood

We hosted this event 5-6pm GMT, Mon 8th March 2021 (free, online)

What does ‘worlding’ mean in the context of early childhood research?

How does the practice of ‘worlding’ change the way we understand childhood?  

How does ‘worlding’ transform how we do research in early childhood education?

‘Worlding’ is a fundamental practice in posthumanist and feminist new materialist research with young children. It invites us to reconsider the connections between humans and the ‘more than human’. Working with ‘worlding’ shifts our approach to research in early childhood education, shaping differently the questions we ask, the methods we use and what we do with the ‘stuff’ that is encountered and generated through the research process. In this intensive and interactive one hour workshop with Professor Jayne Osgood, you have the opportunity to learn more about ‘worlding’ and its potentials in the landscape of early childhood education research.

Dr Jayne Osgood is Professor of Education (Early Childhood Studies) based at the Centre for Education Research & Scholarship, Middlesex University. Her work is committed to the  pursuit of social justice by critically engaging with early childhood policy, curricular frameworks and pedagogical approaches. Through her research and publications, she seeks to extend understandings of the workforce, families, ‘the child’ and ‘childhood’ in early years contexts.

Seminar Video: Children as Architects of their own Education – An insight into Danilo Dolci’s Ecological Maieutics

We hosted this event 12-12.45pm GMT Monday 8th March 2021 (free, online).

The talk examines the application of Danilo Dolci’s Ecological Maieutics in Children’s Education, focusing on Dolci’s practice between 1975 – the year when his Mirto Experimental Educational Centre opened, and 1997. Notwithstanding all the administrative and financial problems it faced, the Mirto Centre, for children from four to fourteen years of age, became a beacon for progressive education in Italy. The Centre came into being in response to the dire situation of the Italian educational system of the day. According to Dolci, schools suffocated children, repressing all creativity, and he objected that they were not healthy environments but places of coercion and authoritarian rule. One severe drawback that schools had, according to Dolci, was their inability to pose “maieutic” questions, a failure to strengthen the natural questioning instinct, from the earliest infancy, in the widest range of contexts. Dolci’s vision for school is of a healthy environment where children can grow and learn, ultimately becoming the architects of their own lives and futures, making the children themselves responsible for their own education. Dolci’s method was drawn from a number of sources and in that sense was not wholly new but we can regard the clarity and persistence with which the method was applied as innovative in and of itself. It was highly effective in harmoniously combining theories from different educators, notably Maria Montessori and Aldo Capitini in Italy, and Rudolf Steiner and Paulo Freire internationally. This educational approach was intended to be constantly discussed and improved, not only by educators themselves but by the children, the educators and the parents together, focusing on creating a relationship between the experience of the Centre itself and other experiences from the childrens’ own world.

An image of Danilo Dolci – used with the kind permission of Sereno Dolci

Bio: Dr Abele Longo is MA Translation Programme Leader at Middlesex University, London. His main research interests encompass perspectives ranging from ecocriticism to environmental education. His publications include: Danilo Dolci – Environmental Education and Empowerment (Springer 2020); ‘Roma, viandanza dell’esilio. Rafael Alberti tradotto da Vittorio Bodini’ in N. di Nunzio and F. Ragni (Eds.) (2014) “Già troppe volte esuli” Letteratura di frontiera e di esilio, Morlacchi Editore, Perugia; ‘The Cinema of Ciprì and Maresco: Kynicism as a Form of Resistance’, in W. Hope (Ed.) (2010) Italian Film Directors in the New Millennium, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge; ‘Subtitling the Italian South’, in J. Díaz-Cintas (Ed.) (2009), New Trends in Audiovisual Translation, Multilingual Matters, Bristol; ‘Palermo in the Films of Ciprì and Maresco’, in R. Lumley and J. Foot (Eds.) (2004) Italian Cityscapes, Culture and Urban Change in Contemporary Italy, Exeter University Press, Exeter.