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  • 1.
    Björklund, Sanne
    Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Natural Science, Mathematics and Society (NMS).
    Nature in preschool2022Conference paper (Refereed)
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  • 2.
    Björklund, Sanne
    Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Natural Science, Mathematics and Society (NMS).
    Preschool-naturing in the Anthropocene2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Preschool-naturing in the Anthropocene

    We live in peculiar times, a time where humans relationship to nature is high on the agenda and referred to in various ways: as Anthropocene (Crutzen, 2006; Steffen et al., 2007) as  Capitalocene (Malm, 2019; Malm & Hornborg, 2014; Moore, 2016) and Chthulucene (Haraway, 2016) just to mention some. In this study the Anthropocene concept, originally a suggested name of a geological time period to mark humans’ substantial impact on planet earth (Steffen et al., 2007), is used as an underpinning to stress the need for studies concerning human/nature relations in this peculiar time. 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). More than half a million children in Sweden attend preschool which is roughly 85 percent of all children in the age 1-5 and 95 percent of all children over 4 years (SKR, 2020). Preschool is today a significant part of childhood and preschool is not only situated in these challenging times, of Anthropocene, but education is often also seen as a part of the solution to rising challenges (Gilbert, 2022; Jickling & Sterling, 2017; Somerville & Williams, 2015; Wolff et al., 2020). With preschool now as a part of the Swedish educational system situated, in the time of Anthropocene, it becomes relevant to further investigate and understand nature’s role in preschool, how it is enacted and upheld, with children, preschool staff, materials, surroundings, organization, policy, ideas, and discourses.

    In a literature review Sjögren (2020) looks at how the relationship between children and nature is described in articles with a focus on Anthropocene in early childhood education (ECE) and comes to the conclusion that the most common view of the child’s relationship to nature can be described as entangled. This entangled child is described in the articles as “interdependent”, “relational” and “connected”, and builds on the notion that it is impossible to separate culture from nature (Sjögren, 2020 s. 5-6). This review also shows that when a post human perspective is used to approach nature and ECE there seems to be a lack of power perspectives (Sjögren, 2020). With an actor-network theory (ANT) approach this PhD project takes an interest in not only that children are entangled but how these entanglements are created, enacted, and upheld, by whom and where. These aspects of ANT, developed by for instance Mol (1999, 2002, 2010) also says something about the power relations between the actors involved, which means all actors, between human actors as well as other-than human actors. With an ANT inspired ethnographic method, the idea with the present project is to understand how “nature” is made, upheld, and translated, in an organization as preschool, that has such a strong tie to nature both historically and in the present.

    Methods/methodology

    In an ANT inspired hybrid understanding of the world where everything is nature and culture, – constantly connecting, disconnecting, and reconnecting – this study is an attempt to investigate taken for granted assumptions concerning nature and preschool. When it comes to preschool practice, humans enact with the world to create meaning and actions. The methodology is structured around the concept of preschool-naturing, a concept created by the author, inspired by actor-network theory (Latour, 2005; Law, 2004; Mol, 2002) with an ambition to try to investigate how nature and preschool are assembled together in various preschool practices. 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. Mol (1999) discusses how decisions can be made invisible by pushing them out of sight making them appear as if they are not decisions, but facts. This makes it interesting to understand where these facts, associated with natures role in preschool, 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 and the idea is 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). 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. The aim is to trace the complexity of how ”nature” is done together with preschool practice by also taking an interest in power aspects involved in the enactments. 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. The analysis of the material is focused on how preschool-naturing is enacted, to visualize how understandings of nature are stabilized by drawing on already stable assumptions.

    Expected outcomes/results

    By using the concept of preschool-naturing as a theoretical and methodological tool 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 nature is made with an ambition to also say something about why these efforts of preschool-naturing are made in these precarious times. In this session I will present some preliminary results and discus how nature is enacted with preschool practices and also discuss these results connections to ideas of nature/culture in the Anthropocene. Some early results from analyzing the study’s fieldnotes shows how the physical design of the preschools outdoor environments, such as fences and gates, take part in preschool-naturing enacting assemblages that allows children to enroll in different kinds of “nature”. The results are expected to broaden our understandings of nature’s role in preschool practice and make visible other understandings of how to organize ECE in urban settings in the future. 

    Intent of publication: Part of a PhD thesis that will be written in English. 

    References 

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

    Gilbert, J. (2022). Resurrecting Science Education by Re-Inserting Women, Nature, and Complexity. In Reimagining Science Education in the Anthropocene (pp. 259-275). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. 

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

    Haraway, D. J. (2016). Staying with the Trouble : Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press. 

    Jickling, B., & Sterling, S. (2017). Post-sustainability and environmental education: Remaking education for the future. Springer. 

    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. 

    Malm, A. (2019). Against Hybridism: Why We Need to Distinguish between Nature and Society, Now More than Ever. Historical Materialism, 27(2), 156-187. https://doi.org/10.1163/1569206x-00001610 

    Malm, A., & Hornborg, A. (2014). The geology of mankind? A critique of the Anthropocene narrative. The Anthropocene Review, 1(1), 62-69. 

    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. 

    Mol, A. (2010). Actor-network theory: Sensitive terms and enduring tensions. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 50(1), 253-269. 

    Moore, J. W. (2016). Anthropocene or capitalocene?: Nature, history, and the crisis of capitalism. Pm Press. 

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

    Sjögren, H. (2020). A review of research on the Anthropocene in early childhood education. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463949120981787 

    SKR, S. k. o. r. (2020). Förskola 2020. Öppna jämförelser. Likvärdig förskola. . 

    Somerville, M., & Williams, C. (2015). Sustainability education in early childhood: An updated review of research in the field. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 16(2), 102-117. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463949115585658 

    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. 

    Wolff, L.-A., Skarstein, T. H., & Skarstein, F. (2020). The Mission of early childhood education in the Anthropocene. Education Sciences, 10(2), 27. 

  • 3.
    Björklund, Sanne
    Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Natural Science, Mathematics and Society (NMS). Malmö Universitet.
    Putting the concept of “preschool-naturing” to work2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    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. 

  • 4.
    Björklund, Sanne
    Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Natural Science, Mathematics and Society (NMS).
    Thinking with the concept of preschool-naturing2023Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Abstract

    In a time when humans relationship to nature is high on the agenda, we need to look beyond categories that shape preschool practice and investigate how nature is done. 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. When it comes to practice, we enact with the world to create meaning and actions. How can the concept of preschool-naturing be used as an analytical tool to investigate nature’s role in preschool?

    Thinking with the concept of preschool-naturing

    This study takes an interest in how nature is enacted with preschool practices. Through an ethnographic approach inspired by actor-network theory (ANT) the purpose is to disrupt taken for granted assumptions concerning relations between nature and preschool. The departure is that we live in a time where humans relationship to nature is high on the agenda and that these troubling times connect to early childhood education (ECE) in different ways.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). According to Nxumalo (2015) nature cannot be separated from culture, nature is not separated from the children out there to be “discovered”. The romantic idealization of both childhood and nature depends on the binary logic of nature/culture and one of the problems with presenting childhood with an idealized manifestation of nature is that the real world gets lost (Taylor, 2013). This paper is structured around a concept created with inspiration from actor-network theory (Latour, 2005; Law, 2004; Mol, 2002) with an ambition to try to investigate how nature and preschool are assembled together in various preschool practices. 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. Mol (1999) discusses how decisions can be made invisible by pushing them out of sight making them appear as if they are not decisions, but facts. This makes it interesting to understand where these facts, associated with preschool-naturing 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 and the idea is to try to understand where decisions are made sincethey often are taken for granted as facts when they rather could be reconstructed into other understandings of reality (Mol, 1999). 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. By empirically studying how these assemblages 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, photographs of preschools physical environments, documents, and interviews. In this session I will present some preliminary results and discus how nature is enacted with preschool practices with the help of the concept of preschool-naturing.

    References

    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.Nxumalo, F. (2015). Forest stories. Restorying Encounters with “Natural” Places in Early Childhood Education. In V. Pacini-Ketchabaw & A. Taylor (Eds.), Unsettling the colonial places and spaces of early childhood education. Routledge.Taylor, A. (2013). Reconfiguring the natures of childhood. Routledge.

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