Treescapes Voices of the Future Seminar with Dr. Jayne Osgood, Thursday 13th October 2022, 12:00pm-1:00pm

In this seimar we explore what decentring the child in posthumanism does to our research practices, to our conceptualisations of and relationalities to the child. Crucially, we explore the imperative for other ways to encounter the child – that pursue a decolonising and de/recentralising agenda. We pursue tentacular lines of enquiry through a series of interwoven stories – some more familiar than others. It is by queering old narratives that new and unexpected stories concerning pedagogical documentation, sustainability and environmental education, and the child’s contaminated connection to ‘nature’ begin to emerge. This paper attempts to mobilise ‘the posthuman child’ as feral, an uncomfortable in-between that invites us to grapple with the disease of life on a damaged planet. Central to our storytelling is recycled, ‘natural’ materials found in a Reggio Emilia kindergarten in Norway. Specifically, cork has guided us; insisting that we take the non-innocence of matter to the heart of enquiries. We do this to illustrate the potential of feminist new materialism to respond with situated, embodied, affective insights and provocations that might offer ways to consume, cohabit and wrestle in more care-full ways with the Anthropocene ecologies that we are intricately and endlessly enmeshed in.

Dr. Jayne Osgood is Professor of Childhood Studies at the Centre for Education Research & Scholarship, Middlesex University. Her work addresses issues of social justice through critical engagement with policy, curricular frameworks, and pedagogical approaches in Early Childhood Education & Care. She is committed to extending understandings of the workforce, families, gender and sexualities, ‘child’, and ‘childhood’ in early years contexts through creative, affective methodologies. She has published extensively within the post- modernist paradigm with over 100 publications in the form of books, chapters and journal papers, her most recent books include Feminists Researching Gendered Childhoods (Bloomsbury, 2019) and Postdevelopmental Approaches to Childhood Art (Bloomsbury, 2019). She has served on the editorial boards of various journals and is a long-standing board member at Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. She is currently editor for the journals: Gender & Education and Reconceptualising Education Research Methodology. She is also Book Series Editor for both Bloomsbury (Feminist Thought in Childhood Research) and (Keythinkers in Education) Springer.

The role of trust in positioning Children with Migrant Backgrounds: Primary Teachers’ Narratives (12-12:45 London, Time, Monday 25th April 2022, free, online)

 Based on qualitative interviews with primary school teachers in Greater London, this presentation explores teachers’ narratives to uncover how children with migrant backgrounds (CMB) are positioned in the contexts of their learning experience. In particular, the article utilises the analytical category of trust to argue that the position of CMB in teachers’ narratives is related to the form of teachers’ trust. When trust is based on categorical inequalities, CMB are often considered untrustworthy partners construction of the learning and teaching experience. Trust based on categorical inequalities becomes a form of trust in distrust and CMB are positioned in the children’s needs paradigm where decision-making is reserved to teachers who act for them and on their behalf. When trust is based on personal relationships, CMB are positioned as agents who are capable to voice their interests, bringing about consequential changes in the contexts of their experiences. CMB are positioned in the children’s interests paradigm, where agency is expected and promoted as a right of children who are socially constructed as agents who can make a difference with their choice. 

Bio: Angela Scollan is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies and Education Studies at Middlesex University leading modules and research in Children’s Rights and Self-determination, Facilitation, Enabling Pedagogies and Environments. She has over 30 years of teaching experience across the discipline of Early Childhood Studies, FE and HE sectors.  Angela also researched on the Erasmus+ SHARMED project and Horizon 2020 Child Up project. Before joining Middlesex University in 2012, Angela worked directly with and for children since the early 90’s as a Nursery Nurse, Teacher, Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) Lead Assessor, Foundation Degree Coordinator and Early Years Ofsted Inspector. Her teaching philosophy, research, writing and pedagogical leadership focus on the child first, and the role of a learner within education, as secondary. 

Developing Children’s Agency within a Children’s Rights Education Framework: Ten Propositions (12-12:45pm, London Time,Monday 28 March 2022, free, online)

This paper considers children’s agency within the framework of children’s rights education (CRE). It starts by considering the ways in which agency is conceptualised within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the implications for education. Then the paper outlines ten propositions that offer teachers a variety of tools for thinking about what children’s agency means and what they can consciously do to develop it. Children’s capacity to act does not derive from their age or level of development, it is produced through interactions with those around them. Adults can boost children’s agency by providing them with opportunities to engage, building routines that become habits, ensuring they have access to appropriate information, supporting them to develop informed opinions, and genuinely demonstrating how they can have an impact. The CRE approach does not assume children have all the information and capabilities required to exercise agency effectively in all matters, rather it works with children to nurture and develop their agency. It follows that, in schools where children cannot exercise their agency, responsibility for the remedy lies with the adults as duty bearers.

Bio: Lee Jerome is Associate Professor of Education at Middlesex University. He has worked in secondary schools as a history and sociology teacher, in the charity sector running citizenship projects and in universities, teaching on a variety of courses from undergraduate to doctoral programmes. His main interests are linked to citizenship education, human rights education and initial teacher education. He is editor of the academic journal Education, Citizenship and Social Justice and co-editor of the teacher journal Teaching Citizenship. His books include England’s Citizenship Education Experiment (2012), Effective Medium-term Planning for Teaching (2015 with Marcus Bhargava), The Rise of Character Education in Britain (2019 with Ben Kisby), The Prevent Duty in Education (2020 edited with Joel Busher) and Children’s Rights Education in Diverse Schools (2021 with Hugh Starkey).  

The Special Role of the Baby Room Leader in Early Years Settings, (12-12:45pm, London Time, Monday 14 March 2022, free, online)

There is a growing body of literature on leadership across the early years sector. However, early years leadership research so far has tended to focus on the role of the setting manager, or in some cases, the role of room leaders in preschool rooms (for 3-to-5 year old children). There is a notable gap in our understanding of the role of the Baby Room Leader (leading practice for birth-to-2 year olds) and how leadership can be developed in this specific context. Drawing perspectives and experiences from Baby Room Leaders involved in the project ‘Baby Rooms – Inspiring Leaders (BRIL)’, this paper offers an insight into the role of the Baby Room Leader and how it is special in the context of the early years sector.

Bio: Dr Mona Sakr is Senior Lecturer in Education and Early Childhood. As a researcher in Early Years (EY) provision, she has published extensively on creative, digital and playful pedagogies including the books ‘Digital Play in Early Childhood: What’s the Problem?’ (Sage) and ‘Creativity and Making in Early Childhood: Challenging Practitioner Perspectives’ (Bloomsbury) . Mona’s current research is an exploration of pedagogical, organisational and community leadership in EY and how leadership can be more effectively developed across EY. Current funded research includes a Nuffield Foundation project looking at online leadership development across the EY sector, a BELMAS project looking at leadership in the baby room of nurseries and a BERA project examining ethnicity in the early years workforce. Forthcoming books (include an introduction to Social Leadership in Early Childhood Education and Care (written with June O’Sullivan, CEO of London Early Years Foundation), and an edited volume on EY pedagogical leadership around the globe.

Childhood and Society Seminar: Critical thinking and judgement, combining Hannah Arendt and Danilo Dolci’s approaches to Character Education in a project developed for a primary school in Turin (Italy) 12-(12:45pm, London Time, Monday 28th Feb, free, online)

Abstract: The seminar reflects on quality education for the promotion of active and responsible citizenship in primary school, focusing on the meaning and sense of two central skills that education for sustainable development promotes in children: the ability to think and judge critically. These skills will be discussed in the context of a proposed methodological implementation in a primary school in Turin (Italy ), drawing on the theoretical work of Hannah Arendt and Danilo Dolci.

Dr Emanuela Guarcello & Dr Abele Longo

Bio: Dr Emanuela Guarcello teaches “Institutions and Contemporary History of Pedagogy”on the Degree Course in Childhood and Primary Teachers Education (Savigliano, Collegno) in the Department of Philosophy and Sciences of Education at the University of Turin. Her research interests cover character skills education in childhood, judgment education and themes of justice with particular focus on scholastic context and its territorial relationships. Her publications include Le azioni della pazienza (Studium, 2019), Scuola, carattere e skills. Dal gusto al giudizio(FrancoAngeli, 2020).

Bio: Dr Abele Longo is Senior Lecturer in Translation  in the Department of Education at Middlesex University. 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.

Childhood and Soceity Seminar: Arboreal Methodologies: the promise of getting lost (with feminist new materialism and Indigenous ontologies) for social studies with Professor Jayne Osgood & Suzanne Axelsson (12-12.45pm London, Time, Mon 14th Feb 2022, free, online)

Abstract: This paper materialises ‘arboreal methodologies’ as a way to push childhood studies in other directions. The problematic divide between theory and practice in early childhood education has long been recognised (Lenz Taguchi, 2010), it is our intention to pursue ways to ‘go beyond’ this divide by enacting feminist new materialist praxis to actively engage in world-making practices (Haraway, 2008). We consider this to be a generative experiment in bringing practices, philosophies and activisms together in order to (re)imagine childhood studies in other (worldly) ways (Haraway, 2016). The arboreal methodologies we work with are situated, material and affective, they involve metaphorical and material practices of weaving, crafting and entangling strings. We pursue seriously playful questions about how else knowledge gets produced, by whom and with what consequences. We wonder how arboreal methodologies might offer ways to live differently in the world, and to recognise ethical response-abilities in our teaching, research and activism.

Bio:Jayne Osgood is Professor of Childhood Studies at the Centre for Education Research & Scholarship, Middlesex University. Her work addresses issues of social justice through critical engagements with policy, curricular frameworks, and pedagogical approaches in ECEC. She is committed to extending understandings of the workforce, families, gender and sexualities, ‘the child’, and ‘childhood’ in early years contexts. She has published extensively within the postmodernist paradigm with over 100 publications in the form of books, chapters and journal papers, her most recent books include Feminists Researching Gendered Childhoods (Bloomsbury, 2019) and Postdevelopmental Approaches to Childhood Art (Bloomsbury, 2019). She has served on the editorial boards of various journals and is a long-standing board member at Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. She is currently editor at Gender & Education Journal and Reconceptualising Education Research Methodology Journal. She is also Book Series Editor for Bloomsbury (Feminist Thought in Childhood Research; and Post Developmental Approaches to Childhood) and Springer (Keythinkers in Education). 

Click here to view the paper – Arboreal Methodologies: the promise of getting lost (with feminist new materialism and Indigenous ontologies) for social studies.

SERA Early Years Network Event: Symposium – ‘Pedagogy and Play’

Invited Keynote by Professor Jayne Osgood:

Play Matters: exploring worldly connections in early childhood 

In early childhood play has long been understood as a human endeavour; and materiality is, at best, viewed as a means to facilitate play and learning. Feminist new materialist approaches though invite a different engagement with matter, one that contemplates how play might be understood as a more than human endeavour. The presentation seeks to address why a different engagement is needed and what it makes possible. Jayne will demonstrate that taking matter seriously involves pursuing tentacular lines of enquiry, which make it possible to imagine childhood as inextricably interwoven (through endless worldly connections) to non-innocent matters such as heteronormativity, capitalist manufacturing, environmental disasters and the prevalence of global pandemics. The presentation aims to provoke a different, and challenging, set of questions – about play, the child, and matter – that hold the potential to shift approaches taken in early childhood settings. Jayne argues that there is an urgent need to find (other) ways to live life on a damaged planet (Tsing et al, 2020) through seriously playful encounters that cause us to stutter, stammer and take account of, and act upon, our ethical response-abilities (Haraway, 2016). 

June 2021, Scottish Education Research Association Symposium.

Childhood and Society seminar: From Active to Activist Parenting: Educational Activism and the Injuries of Institutionalised Misrecognition, with Dr Nathan Fretwell and Dr John Barker (12-12.45pm London Time, Monday 22 Nov, 2021, free, online)

Abstract: This paper centres on the experiences of parents fighting for educational justice. It concerns parents who respond to the uncertainty provoked by policy developments adversely affecting their families and communities by reinventing themselves as educational activists, and it is about the resistance they encountered in struggling to defend their interests. Since the 1980s, education and family policy in England have contrived to promote a culture of active and involved parenting. This tends, however, to prioritise the individual family unit and scarcely extends to consider parents’ collective interests. Drawing on qualitative data collected from three parent-led campaign groups targeting either funding cuts to education or the academisation of local schools, we detail how parents’ activism disrupts the individualism around which dominant norms of active parenting cohere whilst simultaneously asserting the power and promise of collective parental involvement. Our data also reveals, however, that bitter conflicts arose around the anti-academisation campaigns. Adopting the lens of Axel Honneth’s theory of recognition we foreground the powerful feelings conflict generates as parents are routinely disregarded and disrespected by the authorities. Their experiences suggest that not all forms of active involvement are equally welcome. And yet, we contend that the commitment and effort demonstrated by parents, especially when faced with institutionalised misrecognition, constitutes the very epitome of parental involvement. We thus argue for a more expansive and socially just conception of parental involvement that recognises parents’ collective right to contribute to decision-making processes within education and call on educational authorities to value this engagement and work with rather than against parents. 

Bio: Dr Nathan Fretwell is a Senior Lecturer in Education and Early Childhood Studies at Middlesex University. He is an experienced qualitative researcher and has conducted funded research for a range of organisations, from local authorities to the European Commission. Nathan specialises in research on home-school relations, education and family policy, and alternative educational philosophies. His current research explores the phenomenon of parental activism and the experiences of parents fighting for educational justice. Nathan’s work has been published in leading Education journals, including the British Educational Research Journal and Educational Philosophy and Theory.

Dr John Barker is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education at Middlesex University. He is an established academic with an international reputation for delivering high quality research and consultancy for a diverse range of organisations, including UK central government, local authorities, other government agencies and the voluntary sector. John has specialisms in research methodologies (including ethics, qualitative methods, visual methods and ‘children centred’ methods), and children, youth and families (including play, childcare and mobility). He is currently researching parental activism, families’ experiences of private tuition centres, and evaluating the use of film reviews for student assessment in higher education. John has an impressive range of individual and joint authored publications in high quality Education and Social Science journals. 

Childhood and Society Seminar: Beyond male recruitment: decolonising gender diversification efforts in the early years by attending to pastpresent material-discursive-affective entanglements with Sid Mohandas (12-12.45pm London Time, Mon 8th Nov 2021, free, online) 

Abstract In the past few decades important work has been undertaken to unsettle essentialist conceptualisations of gender/sex in the early years workforce (Xu et al. 2020). Through an auto/ethnographic diffractive engagement that thinks with feminist ‘new’ materialist and postcolonial scholarships, this paper uncovers the need to move beyond an exclusive focus on diversifying the workforce by simply increasing the number of men. Moving beyond the narrow focus enables a richer and more expansive understanding of gender/sex that exposes colonialism and reveals everyday practices of early childhood educators to be shaped by place, space and matter. By attending to how matter matters in early years, child-sized chairs are used as a point of entry into this research inquiry to explore how gender/sex is produced through pastpresent, material-discursive-affective and more-than-human entanglements. The paper proposes that complicating understandings of gender/sex is important to decolonise early childhood spaces, and so hold space for the emergence of difference that is unmodulated by whiteness. Recognising the agentic potential of matter further opens up possibilities for that which is not-yet, but available to us, to make life more think-able in cis white heteropatriarchy.

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.