• Wolff-Michael Roth
  • Maria Inês Mafra Goulart
  • Katerina Plakitsi
Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 6)


Although much science education research is devoted to improve the teaching and learning of students, children younger than third grade tend to be excluded from this endeavor because of an apparent belief that they cannot yet understand scientific concepts or even follow instructions to enact experiments. In this chapter, we follow a group of 4-year-old children, enrolled in a public kindergarten school in Belo Horizonte (Brazil), while participating in a science-related hands-on activity. We articulate and develop the metaphors of “groping in the dark” and “stepping into the light” grounded in the dialectic of darkness|light for understanding learning as a dialectical process as result of which children bring forth new worlds. In the process, they transcend the contradictions inherent in being asked to arrive at specific outcomes of activity. While engaging with the materials, the children bring forth visions that give sense to the actions required for concretely realizing the activity. In the process, they transform materials and create new structures. Most importantly, we find (a) that learning is neither a process of transferring information nor constructing knowledge step by step but a process of changing participation in a concrete but changing context, characterized by the enlarging possibilities to act, and (b) that the attendant subject|object dialectic leads to an internal contradiction where curricular materials are highly specified and limited and still do not lead to the desired trajectory of the enacted curriculum.


Inflated Balloon Intended Outcome Anticipate Outcome Action Possibility Discursive Action 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolff-Michael Roth
    • 1
  • Maria Inês Mafra Goulart
    • 2
  • Katerina Plakitsi
    • 3
  1. 1.Griffith Institute for Educational ResearchGriffith UniversityMt GravattAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.School of EducationUniversity of IoanninaIoanninaGreece

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