Vol. 8 No. 1 (2021): Independently Peer-reviewed Articles
Lucinda Heimer- Associate Editor
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The current issue is made up of five unique research-based articles. They are excellent contributions, and we want to thank the authors for their patience while awaiting publication. We also want to thank many reviewers for their feedback, and to thank copyeditors for their careful attention to the details that make publications consistent across time and with other international standards for publication.
The articles reflect ways to rethink and interrogate what we know, and how we come to think we know children’s, teachers’, and community members’, including parents’, experience. They reflect new questions about policy (Cahill, Jozwiak & Kim, Neal, and Heimer, Nayquonabe & Sullivan), theory and research (Novosel & Dahlberg, Heimer, Nayquonabe & Sullivan, Neal, Cahill, Jozwiak & Kim, and Dash & Peters), and the relationship between power and knowledge, and truth/what we take as truth. A few specific points we want to highlight across the articles are briefly illustrated below.
A Focus on Indigenous Knowledge Systems, and on, Children’s Voices, and Experiences
The article written by Heimer, Nayquonabe, and Sullivan questions representation by exploring personal stories of historical legacy/trauma centering on Indigenous knowledge systems that could be used and were used to create ECE higher education pathways. The three coauthors use a long history of collaboration and a privileging of local knowledge to highlight the importance of credentialed Indigenous teachers within the community that, as they illustrate, shifts the balance from outsiders/settlers to teaching from a base of knowing that fits the lives of Anishinaabe children and their community.
In the Cahill, Jozwiak, and Kim article, children’s and families’ voices are used to disrupt the dichotomy of a normative construction of the terms discontinuity and continuity that permeate policy and standards discussions in many early childhood education and child care settings. They call for more flexible interpretations, and the creation of relevant practice, authentic advocacy/co-conspiracy to understand the complexity and specific moments when our notions of continuity/discontinuity break apart, are non-linear, and require new policies and practices that recognize their “entangledness”, the notion of both/and rather than and/or.
Novosel and Dahlberg’s article draws on Stern’s theory of affect/vitality to examine one year old’s nonverbal behavior and utterances. They ask us to look more closely at the moment, to see when young children are making sense of experiences that others might see as unimportant or non-sense. They allow us –through illustrations of children’s affect and vitality at particular moments to see – “things in the making.” The elegant way in which their piece draws our attention to vitality in toddler’s nonverbal as well as verbal experience as moments to recognize also calls into question our more superficial understanding of how and what children know more generally.
Using the above theme, Dash and Peters’ research uses persona dolls to offer stories from children’s own understandings of the “other” or of those they see as the “same.” They ask us to draw on children’s voices more and to dig deeply into their understanding rather than assume we know. Similarly, Rebecca Neal focuses on the written and told stories of young adolescent males over time as they are constructed as “bad.” The contrast between the boys’ stories and those constructed by teachers reminds us to do our research, and teaching differently. It also reminds us of how we use very incomplete knowledge to construct stories, and form and act on discipline policies around children without including their voice, their understanding, their ideas into understanding of, in this case, black boys as “others.”
Theory and Methodologies
Heimer, Nayquonabe, and Sullivan utilize Critical Race Theory and duoethnography – to center on Indigenous knowledge as an epistemological option toward rethinking Eurowestern influences; they model research strategies that focus on reclaiming, reframing, and recreating research through their autoethnographic work as Indigenous and Eurowestern authors. Cahill, Jozwiak, and Kim, on the other hand, extend the stories of educators and families re: (dis)continuity to consider how a binary or rigid definition extends to four ECE subsystems: QRIS standards, Professional Development, ECE standards, and data collection. The author’s apply insights from their research to consider varied and fluid approaches to data collection and end with the idea of building from community knowledge to better define new and unique systems that fit-- rather than fitting systems to the community.
Novosel and Dahlberg by observing without judgement, without a filtered lens of developmental psychology, draw on the theory of translanguaging to consider the significance of affect/vitality in one year old children. Similarly, Dash and Peters center on the experience of the child in terms of stories they know and tell if listened to; they ask us to look closely at what children say and know about racism and to ask ourselves as educators to – “never stop asking ourselves: are we doing the right thing in the way we teach? Do we understand how children are thinking as a basis for lessons?” And finally, through a close reading of what her young adolescents were doing and saying, and by following them for a length of time, with comparisons between the teacher and students, Neal magnifies the voices of Black Boys as powerful rather than ‘bad’.
Questions and Implications
Across all articles the authors’ raise the voices of those too often not viewed as experts. They prioritize the children (toddler to teen), the researchers (Indigenous perspectives), and the teachers as the ‘experts’ for sharing life experiences. Our work as early education researchers and thinkers exists to question, explore, learn from and support these very ways of being. Using utterances, photos, analyzed recordings, and surveys the research in this volume successfully exposes important gaps in early childhood education, and beyond, and, in all articles, a need to reexamine terminology and our knowledge or “truth” that currently guides important policies and practices.