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

  • Sofie Areljung
  • Christina Ottander
  • Karin Due


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.


Early childhood education Science education Preschool teachers Gendered practices 



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.


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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

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