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Title: Making space : organising, representing and producing space in the Early Years Classroom
Author: MacRae, Christina
ISNI:       0000 0001 3616 0020
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines early years practice and offers a critique of normative ways of interpreting and responding to artefacts produced by' children in the foundation stage classroom. It is written from the position of an early years practitioner-researcher who is interrogating her habitual ways of viewing children's work in the classroom setting. Using field notes that document children as they make artefacts,it explores the continuing and powerful effects that Piaget's developmental theory exerts. It takes a particularly close look' at the intimate links between a cognitive account of the child and the conceptualisation of space through the system of perspective. This connection raises significant questions both about the way children are represented and the way they are expected to represent the world. In the first instance, the representation of the child is explored by examining the practice of child observation and the way it is employed as a tool by which teachers come to know the child. The practice of child observation by early years teachers is considered alongside a reflection on the central place of observation as method in ethnographic research. This examination challenges the naturalist claims of observation, and referring to perspective, it re-conceives observation as providing us with a frame through which we look at the world. Thought this way, observation has the potential to shape what we see rather than simply to reflect it. On this basis documentation produced through the practice of observation is reviewed in order to consider how it might reproduce particular ways of seeing the child. While the work owes much to Foucault's conception of a 'normalising gaze' (1991, p.184) that operates to sustain universal truths about the child, its principal aim is to open up new ways to see the child. As a starting point I have taken not only the artefacts child~en produce, but also the documentation I have produced as an observer, in order to reengage with these objects in different ways. This approach is led by an appreciation of the material qualities of the object, as well as an awareness of the dual sense in which the object contains both self and other. This appreciation for the liveliness of the object also contributes to a new way to view the processes at play when children make artefacts in the classroom setting. The research has allowed me, as a practitioner, to go beyond the assumption that children's purposes are limited to representing the world as if seen through a window. At the same time, it has revealed the' powerful way that I, as a teacher, shape the space that children inhabit. In response I have adopted a stance that recognises the power that objects exert during the creative process and the result has been to give credence and value to the unconventional artefacts produced in this way. Finally, and perhaps most usefully for the early years practitioner, my research offers a way for the object to provide a meeting place in which to engage with the child in more open, rather than prescribed, ways.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available