Fostering New Spaces: Challenging Dominant Constructions of Power and Knowledge in Early Childhood Art Education
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractWithin this dissertation I discuss my experience as both teacher and researcher in an early childhood art education research project with the goal to challenge traditional conceptions of power and knowledge in work with young children. Inspired initially by the idea of reactivating children's traditionally subjugated knowledges, in this research I aimed to foster a space where children and adults could ethically collaborate in art, making, and research. Over the course of 10 weeks, this art classroom was built as a space created for children, grounded in notions of change, movement, trust, and respect. The children were not only encouraged to create their own opportunities for making, and also to challenge what it means to exist and make in the early childhood art classroom by engaging in play, exploration, and collaborations with adults. In what follows, I share some of the children’s words and work in order to make their experience in this classroom space visible. Both their artworks and experiences are analyzed through various theoretical lenses, including theories surrounding nomadism and movement, ethical encounters, collaborations between adults and children, and chaos theory in play. Ultimately, I argue that challenging conventional understandings of power, authority, and knowledge in the art classroom demands resistance from both adults and children. However, this resistance is coupled with a responsibility for educators to listen deeply to what their students both want and need, and to embrace curricular spaces that welcome the unknown. Throughout this dissertation it is my hope to present new and different ways of being and engaging with young children in spaces of art education.
Art History & Education