Exploring Young Migrant Children's 'Funds of Knowledge' Through Documentary Photography

Horsley, Karen (2022). Exploring Young Migrant Children's 'Funds of Knowledge' Through Documentary Photography. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0001428d


In the context of unprecedented global migration (Migration Data Portal, 2020), there are increasing numbers of children from migrant backgrounds entering early childhood education and care (ECEC) contexts. However, the rich funds of knowledge of young children whose families have migrated to the UK are largely invisible. This qualitative visual participatory case study foregrounds, and renders visible, the funds of knowledge of three young migrant children through documentary photography, challenging dominant deficit perspectives (Bove and Sharmahd, 2020; UNESCO, 2018).

Case studies with three, three- to four-year-old children were generated at home and in an English nursery over four months. Naturalistic data generation methods included: child-led photography and allied video recorded photo conversations; photo storybooks, semi-structured interviews, field notes and reflexive journaling that were analysed thematically. The findings illuminate the children’s intuitive and wise photography about their everyday funds of knowledge as a ‘touchstone’. Their democratic photography reflected colour, texture, layers, patterns, rhythms and poetry as portals. The children frequently revisited these portals over time with affection, quiet and humour, re-storying and analysing in their own aesthetic authorial, and co-authored voices in the nursery as a ‘cultural setting’ (Moll, 2005, p.283).

This study’s original contribution to knowledge is in its development of a theoretical framework of layered listening in a novel application of visual concepts: intuitive and wise photography (Norris Webb, 2014); ambiguity (Franklin, 2020); photographing democratically (Eggleston, 2019) and ‘elastic spaces’ (Ghirri, 2017). The children’s documentary photography invites alternative ways of seeing young migrant children’s funds of knowledge. A blurring of methodology and pedagogy through documentary photography offers an expanded notion of ongoing, unfinished human conversational spaces of shared funds of knowledge over time. The children’s photographs are portals and touchstones to limitless future trajectories and possibilities for their visible funds of knowledge as pedagogical resources (González et al., 2005).

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