, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 174-190
Date: 16 Nov 2012

Voicing Early Years Teachers’ Subjective Experiences Through Maurice Sendak’s Outside Over There

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In this article, I present a narrative conversation that combines six teachers’ responses to Maurice Sendak’s picture book, Outside Over There (1981) with my own responses to their discussions and to the book. The purpose of this research is three-fold: first, to examine how children’s literature can be used to evoke reflections in early years teachers on how they make sense of their work with children; second, to conduct a close and shared reading of Sendak’s elusive story; and third, to experiment with a dialogic, narrative form of representation. Using a qualitative form of reader response and text analysis, I assembled content from a focus group discussion held with six early years teachers, in which they discussed Sendak’s book, Outside Over There, and combined data from their responses with my own readings. Sendak’s goblins, the lead protagonist of Outside Over There, Ida, Ida’s family, and the phrasing of “outside over there” provided symbols around which the teachers discussed their professional vulnerabilities, including their subjective experiences of being undervalued in society. The picture book’s defamiliarizing effect helped the teachers question their own difficult emotions in realizing themselves within the broader field of education, and offered tools with which they could articulate the value of their “demanding internal adventures” (Cech, Angels and Wild Things: The Archetypal Poetics of Maurice Sendak, 1995, p. 237).

Sandra Chang-Kredl is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Concordia University. Her research interests include the representation of childhood in children’s literature and popular culture, and the uses of fiction and memory work in early childhood teacher education.