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Putting the concept of “preschool-naturing” to work
Malmö universitet, Fakulteten för lärande och samhälle (LS), Institutionen för naturvetenskap, matematik och samhälle (NMS). Malmö Universitet.
2023 (engelsk)Konferansepaper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Fagfellevurdert)
Abstract [en]

Putting the concept of “preschool-naturing” to work 

This is a part of a PhD project in science education and this paper is structured around a concept, created by the author, inspired by actor-network theory (ANT) (Latour, 2005; Law, 2004; Mol, 1999) with an ambition to try to investigate how nature and preschool are assembled together in various preschool practices. In this paper I would like to discuss how this concept of preschool-naturing could be theoretical and methodological useful when understanding nature’s role in preschool practices in the time of the Anthropocene. 

In this study the notion of the Anthropocene, originally a suggested name of a geological time period to mark humans’ substantial impact on planet earth (Crutzen, 2006; Steffen et al., 2007), is used as an underpinning to stress the need for studies concerning human/nature relations. Gilbert (2016) argues that in these peculiar times of the Anthropocene we need to find the “blind spots” of science education and acknowledge previously unacknowledged assumptions. One of these unacknowledged assumptions in science education is the fondness of “entities” and Gilbert (2016) argues that we need to ask different questions to be able to deal with this: “How are science, society, and education inter-connected? How do they depend on each other? How do they influence each other? How do they construct each other? How do they talk to each other?” (s.18). These questions with the ambition to disrupt clear cut entities and with a focus on how, is in line with the ambition of this PhD project. Here the aim is to trace the complexity of how ”nature” and natures role in preschool is done together with preschool practice by also taking an interest in power aspects involved in these enactments. 

In Sweden “nature” can be seen as a part of preschools aim and practice in several ways. This is stemming from a long tradition of connecting children to nature through natural environments but also as a part of the educational system, articulated in the curricula connected to science education, sustainable development, health and wellbeing (Halldén, 2011; National Agency of  Education, 2018). In a hybrid understanding of the world where everything is nature and culture, also constantly connecting, disconnecting, and reconnecting, this is a try to use a concept for investigating taken for granted assumptions concerning nature and preschool. According to Fenwick and Edwards (2010) ANT can offer a different way to approach education and help us to better understand the complexity of everyday practice that often is overlooked. Preschool practices can be understood as actor-networks where humans and other-than human actors are connected in assemblages that are not symmetrical but draw on different certainties, already established. To stabilize themselves, actor-networks use relatively already stabilized networks, for instance materials or discursive resources (Nespor, 2011). Mol (1999) discusses how decisions can be made invisible by pushing them into places out of sight making them appear as if they are not decisions, but facts. This makes it interesting to understand where these facts, concerning preschool and nature, are made, and which places and actors are involved. These decisions are not only intellectually made but occurs in practice involving both human and other-than-human actors. This is a practical and necessary stabilization of the actor-network that enable practicians to handle reality but it is relevant, to try to understand where decisions are made since they often are taken for granted as facts when they rather could be reconstructed into other understandings of reality (Mol, 1999). Can the concept of preschool-naturing be helpful to make visible natures complex role in preschool practices and acknowledge unattended assumptions concerning nature and preschool? 

Method

According to Fenwick and Edwards (2010) ANT can offer a different way to approach education, with interrupting and intervening, as a method to dissolve taken for granted categories and structures. By creating the concept of preschool-naturing the idea is to investigate how networks that involve preschool, and nature are upheld, broken down and translated. By joining these words (preschool and nature) into one, also making them into a verb, the idea is to move away from the dualistic views of thinking that nature is enacted in preschool, or that preschool is enacted in nature and rather think of this preschool-naturing as something that enacts different ontologies. It is an investigation of where and how reality is done and as Mol (1999) articulates it “if reality is done, if it is historically, culturally, and materially located, then it is also multiple. Realities have become multiple.” (Mol, 1999 s. 75). This is not the same as looking for different perspectives on the same reality, as in different perspectives on nature, but recognizing that reality is enacted differently because it is located differently and when so, it enrolls different actors. Mol (2002) also suggests “that ontology is not given in the order of things, but that, instead, ontologies are brought into being, sustained, or allowed to wither away in common, day-to-day, sociometrical practices” and the consequence of this multiple reality is that if it is multiple, it is also political (Mol, 2002 s. 6-7). When ontological politics are enacted it is not only a matter of practice but there are also other realities at stake (Mol, 1999). Mol (1999) clarifies this with the example of how ontologies of anemia does not only put the reality of anemia at stake but also the reality of sexes (Mol, 1999 s. 82). When putting the concept of preschool-naturing to work the idea is to focus on how multiple ontologies are enacted, where decisions are made, and which actors are involved also making it possible to investigate if there are other realities at stake by tracing the political. By empirically studying how these assemblages, of nature and preschool, are made possible (or impossible) the idea is to further understand nature’s role in preschool practices. Materials collected with an ethnographic method includes fieldnotes from observations at two different preschools in an urban setting, photographs of preschools physical environments and materials, documents, and interviews. 

Expected outcomes/results 

The idea is to allow complexities to emerge, not looking for single enactments of nature in preschool but rather investigate how assemblages are held together by enrolling some actors but not others, sometimes allowing discrepancies and contradictions and sometimes depending on powerful actors. The aim is to trace how preschool-naturing is done with an ambition to also discuss these multiple ontologies in relation to ideas of nature/culture in the Anthropocene. In this presentation I will present some preliminary results that has been produced with the use of the concept of preschool-naturing mainly by analyzing fieldnotes. 

References

Crutzen, P. J. (2006). The “anthropocene”. In Earth system science in the anthropocene (pp. 13-18). Springer. 

Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-Network Theory in Education (1st ed. ed.) [Online

Non-fiction

Electronic document]. Taylor & Francis Group. https://proxy.mau.se/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,cookie,url,shib&db=cat05074a&AN=malmo.b2441443&lang=sv&site=eds-live&scope=site

https://proxy.mau.se/login?url=https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/malmo/detail.action?docID=544021 

Gilbert, J. (2016). Transforming science education for the Anthropocene—Is it possible? Research in science education, 46(2), 187-201. 

Halldén, G. (2011). Barndomens skogar : om barn i natur och barns natur. Carlsson Bokförlag. 

Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the Social. An introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford University Press. 

Law, J. (2004). After method : mess in social science research. Routledge. 

Mol, A. (1999). Ontological politics. A word and some questions. In J. H. John Law (Ed.), Actor Network Theory and after. Blachwell Publishing. 

Mol, A. (2002). The body multiple: Ontology in medical practice. Duke University Press. 

National Agency of  Education. (2018). Curriculum for the Preschool. Lpfö 18. In. Stockholm: Norstedts Juridik.

Nespor, J. A. N. (2011). Devices and Educational Change [https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2009.00611.x]. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43(s1), 15-37. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2009.00611.x 

Steffen, W., Crutzen, P. J., & McNeill, J. R. (2007). The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, 36(8), 614-621. 

sted, utgiver, år, opplag, sider
2023.
HSV kategori
Forskningsprogram
Naturvetenskapernas didaktik
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-59322OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-59322DiVA, id: diva2:1752333
Konferanse
Emerging Researchers' Conference, ERC. Glasgow.
Tilgjengelig fra: 2023-04-21 Laget: 2023-04-21 Sist oppdatert: 2023-04-24bibliografisk kontrollert

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