The ‘Listening Project’: Seeing and hearing young children’s stories,voices and imaginations through documentary photography in one day nursery. Possibilities and dilemmas

Horsley, Karen (2016). The ‘Listening Project’: Seeing and hearing young children’s stories,voices and imaginations through documentary photography in one day nursery. Possibilities and dilemmas. In: 26th EECERA (European Early Childhood Education Research Association) Conference, 2016, 31 Aug - 3 Sep 2016, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.

Abstract

This paper is underpinned by participatory approaches and sociocultural perspective. It explores the possibilities and dilemmas for positioning children during a project to listen to young children through the development of nursery practitioner’s use of documentary photography. This paper draws on influences from the Mosaic approach (Clark and Moss, 2011) and the discipline of Documentary Photography, positioning practitioners as research participants at the centre of documenting children’s experiences (Clark, 2011). Skills learnt, on a specialist course in capturing effective images that convey a narrative of children’s stories, voices and imaginations were shared and developed with practitioners. Some possibilities for listening through documentary photography are: slowing down to listen to children, to reflect on our own perspectives, and reflective dialogues on co-constructed and co-narrated pedagogic visual documentation and practice including practitioners explicitly helping children make meaning and to connect their individual and communal stories (Gussin Paley, 1990). There are ethical complexities and dilemmas for the positioning of children including: how to include all children? Which voices appear to be ‘silent’? Should children’s stories, voices and imagination be made visible and how do adult’s interpret and represent these? Implications for reflections on participatory practice, and making visual pedagogic documentation, lie in extended dialogue, and relationships in the early year’s community that knows the high quality pedagogic work of practitioners based on deep listening to young children whom they have come to know well.

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