Research in Science Education

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1173–1192 | Cite as

‘Drawing the Leaves Anyway’: Teachers Embracing Children’s Different Ways of Knowing in Preschool Science Practice

Article

Abstract

This study explores if and how teachers combine practices of science and of preschool (children 1–5 years old) into preschool science practice. Views of knowing may differ between science practices, traditionally associated with masculinity and rationality, and preschool practices, traditionally associated with femininity and caring. Recognising this, we have chosen to focus on how teachers’ talk constructs and relates to possible ways of gaining knowledge and reaching explanations of phenomena in preschool science. The analysis builds on two concept pairs often associated with gender as well as knowing: objective-subjective and logical-intuitive. The analysed material consists of 11 group interviews where preschool teachers talk about activities concerning science content. Our results show that several ways of knowing are possible in work with science content in preschool. These include ways of knowing more associated with subjectivity, such as ‘individual liking’ and ‘whole-body perception’, as well as more associated with objectivity, such as ‘noticing differences and similarities’. Furthermore, the results show that the teachers’ talk moves readily between possibilities associated with femininity (subjective and intuitive) and masculinity (objective and logical). This indicates that the teachers in this study have found ways to handle science in preschool that goes against presumed tensions between science and preschool practices. The results contribute to more nuanced ways of describing and thinking about science in preschool and pave the way for further development of science education in early childhood education.

Keywords

Early childhood education Science education Preschool teachers Gendered practices 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The research presented here is part of a larger project funded by the Swedish National Research Council (VR-UVK) in which we collaborate with Kenneth Ekström, Bodil Sundberg and Britt Tellgren.

References

  1. Abd-El-Khalick, F., Bell, R. L., & Lederman, N. G. (1998). The nature of science and instructional practice: making the unnatural natural. Science Education, 82(4), 417–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akerson, V. L., Buck, G. A., Donnelly, L. A., Nargund-Joshi, V., & Weiland, I. S. (2011). The importance of teaching and learning nature of science in the early childhood years. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(5), 537–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andersson, K., & Gullberg, A. (2014). What is science in preschool and what do teachers have to know to empower children? Cultural Studies of Science Education, 9(2), 275–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Archer, L., Dewitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wing, B. (2012). “Balancing acts”: elementary school girls’ negotiations of femininity, achievement and science. Science Education, 96(6), 967–989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brotman, J. S., & Moore, F. M. (2008). Girls and science: a review of four themes in the science education literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(9), 971–1002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dewey, J. (1966). Democracy and education: an introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: The Free Press (Original work published 1916).Google Scholar
  7. Eshach, H., & Fried, M. N. (2005). Should science be taught in early childhood? Journal of Science Education and Technology, 14(3), 315–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fleer, M. (2009). Supporting scientific conceptual consciousness or learning in ‘a roundabout way’ in play-based contexts. International Journal of Science Education, 31(8), 1069–1089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Garbett, D. (2003). Science education in early childhood teacher education: putting forward a case to enhance student teachers’ confidence and competence. Research in Science Education, 33, 467–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gillberg, C. (2009). Transformativa kunskapsprocesser för verksamhetsutveckling – en feministisk aktionsforskningsstudie i förskolan. Växjö: Växjö University Press [Transformative knowledge processes for organisational development – a feminist action research study in preschool].Google Scholar
  11. Harding, S. G. (1986). The science question in feminism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Harding, S. G. (1991). Whose science? Whose knowledge? Thinking from women’s lives. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hildebrand, G. M. (1998). Disrupting hegemonic writing practices in school science: contesting the right way to write. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(4), 345–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hirdman, Y. (2001). Genus: Om det stabilas föränderliga former. Lund: Liber.Google Scholar
  15. Ideland, M., & Malmberg, C. (2014). ‘Our common world’ belongs to ‘Us’: constructions of otherness in education for sustainable development. Critical Studies in Education, 55(3), 369–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Johnston, J. (2008). Emergent science. Education in Science, 227. http://www.ase.org.uk/journals/education-in-science/2008/04/227/Accessed 9 De 2014.
  17. Keller, E. F. (1985). Reflections on gender and science. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Keller, E. F. (1992). Secrets of life, secrets of death: essays on language, gender and science. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Klaar, S., & Öhman, J. (2012). Action with friction: a transactional approach to toddlers’ physical meaning making of natural phenomena and processes in preschool. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 20(3), 439–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lederman, N. G. (2007). Nature of science: past, present, and future. In S. K. Abell & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook on research of science education (pp. 631–880). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  21. Lenz Taguchi, H. (2000). Emancipation och motstånd: dokumentation och kooperativa läroprocesser i förskolan. Stockholm: HLS förlag.Google Scholar
  22. OECD. (2006). Starting strong II: early childhood edcuation and care. Paris: OECD Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Peters, S., & Davis, K. (2011). Fostering children’s working theories: pedagogic issues and dilemmas in New Zealand. Early Years, 31, 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schiebinger, L. (1989). The mind has no sex? Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Sikder, S., & Fleer, M. (2015). Small science: infants and toddlers experiencing science in everyday family life. Research in Science Education, 45(3), 445–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Siraj-Blatchford, J. (2001). Emergent science and technology in the early years. Santiago: Paper presented at the XXIII World Congress of OMEP. http://www.327matters.org/Docs/omepabs.pdf. Accessed 11 December 2014.Google Scholar
  27. Siry, C. (2014). Towards multidimensional approaches to early childhood science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 9(2), 297–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Spektor-Levy, O., Baruch, Y. K., & Mevarech, Z. (2013). Science and scientific curiosity in pre-school—the teacher’s point of view. International Journal of Science Education, 35(13), 2226–2253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Statistics Sweden (2014). Women and men in Sweden: facts and figures. http://www.scb.se/statistik/_publikationer/le0201_2012A01_Br_X10Br1201eNg.pdf. Accessed 2 June 2015.
  30. Subjective [Def 3,4,5] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subjective. Accessed 5 June 2014.
  31. Sundberg, B., & Ottander, C. (2013). The conflict within the role: a longitudinal study of preschool student teachers’ developing competence in and attitudes towards science teaching in relation to developing a professional role. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 34(1), 80–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sundberg, B., Areljung, S., Due, K., Ekström, K., Ottander, C., & Tellgren, B. (2015). Understanding preschool emergent science in a cultural historical context through activity theory. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. doi: 10.1080/1350293X.2014.978557. Advance online publication.Google Scholar
  33. Swedish National Agency for Education. (2004). Förskola i brytningstid - en nationell utvärdering av förskolan. Stockholm: Fritzes. http://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=1272. Accessed 24 Nov 2014.
  34. Swedish National Agency for Education. (2006). Curriculum for the preschool Lpfö98. Stockholm: Fritzes. http://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=1068. Accessed 1 Sept 2014.
  35. Swedish National Agency for Education. (2011). Curriculum for the preschool Lpfö98, revised 2010. Stockholm: Fritzes. http://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=2704. Accessed 1 Sept 2014.
  36. Swedish National Agency for Education. (2014). Barn och grupper i förskolan 15 oktober 2015, table 2B. http://www.skolverket.se/statistik-och-utvardering/statistik-i-tabeller/forskola/barn-och-grupper. Accessed 2 June 2015.
  37. Swedish Research Council. (2011). Good research practice. Stockholm: Swedish Research Council.Google Scholar
  38. Swedish Schools Inspectorate. (2011). Förskolans pedagogiska uppdrag. Rapport, 2011, 10. http://www.skolinspektionen.se/Documents/publikationssok/granskningsrapporter/kvalitetsgranskningar/2011/forskolan-1/kvalgr-forsk-sammanfattning.pdf. Accessed 11 June 2015.Google Scholar
  39. Tallberg Broman, I. (1991). När arbetet var lönen. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.Google Scholar
  40. Thulin, S. (2006). Vad händer med lärandets objekt? En studie av hur lärare och barn i förskolan kommunicerar naturvetenskapliga fenomen [What happens to the object of learning? A study of how teachers and children in preschool communicate scientific phenomena]. Växjö: Växjö University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Thulin, S. (2011). Lärares tal och barns nyfikenhet: kommunikation om naturvetenskapliga innehåll i förskolan. Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg [Teachers’ talk and children’s queries: communication about natural science in early childhood education].Google Scholar
  42. Traweek, S. (1992). Beamtimes and lifetimes: the world of high energy physicists. Boston: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sofie Areljung
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Christina Ottander
    • 1
  • Karin Due
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Science and Mathematics EducationUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.The Graduate School for Gender StudiesUmeå Center for Gender Studies, Umeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  3. 3.The Postgraduate School for Educational SciencesUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

Personalised recommendations