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Empowering Children and Educators: International Pedagogies as Provocation

Conference contribution
Authors Tarja Karlsson Häikiö
Published in Art in Education - Building Partnerships with Artists, Schools, Young People and Communities, 23-30 August 2019, Oslo MET
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Design and Crafts
Language en
Keywords early childhood education, early education, empowerment, participatory practice
Subject categories Aesthetics, Arts, Learning, Didactics, Educational Sciences


Preschools and schools are today parts of a local and global knowledge economy where knowledge in itself has an economic value. In the Nordic countries, as well as internationally, a trend of utilitarian evaluation of pedagogy and quality issues has emerged as a consequence (Alexandersson, 2011; Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 1999; Moss, 2014; Olsson, 2012). A growing measurability practice in the Nordic countries is also linked to a shift towards an Anglo-Saxon knowledge tradition (Åsén, 2015), focusing on preservation and evaluation of individual knowledge and skills. Such a shift is strongly affected by neoliberal politics and linked to increased demands for market adaptation of early childhood and primary education (Moss, 2017). As collaboration between researchers and educators in Anglo-Saxon and Nordic countries an international publication has been produced that investigates the empowerment of children and educators in early childhood education and primary education. The theoretical stance is starting in radical and progressive pedagogical ideas, or seeing and appreciating different perspectives and exploring different critically reflective frameworks for early childhood and primary education (Freire, 1972; Pascal & Bertram, 2009, 2018). The aim of the collaborative project was to start in the daily practice of educators in England, Finland and Sweden, and to examine the prerequisites for professional activity in early education for the benefit of participation for children (Hilppö et al, 2016). Further the aim was to advocate the importance of participatory, practice-led (bottom-up) and reflective (McLeod, 2015) research as a way of empowering educators in their knowledge base of early childhood and early education. Art, aesthetics and culture is highlighted as ways to create methods and border-crossing practices and participation for children. The presentation consists or case studies and examples on professional practice starting in a critically reflective approach to tackle the pressures of outcome driven curricula aiming at empowering educators and children and promoting children’s participation. The result of the project consists of examples from educational practice from the different countries and comparisons between educational methods. Examples of aesthetic, multimodal educational practices are presented to create inclusion. The result is based on challenging thinking and understanding around the purpose of education to promote participatory and democratic practice for children and educators in different kinds of educational settings. In the presentation the prerequisites for participatory and democratic practice is problematized as well as the possibility of promoting respectful learning as part of a socially just and ethical practice.

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