Narratives of Memories As a Way of Changing Children's Future

Monday, 11 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Übungsraum 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Claudio BARALDI, Studies on Language and Culture, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
Vittorio IERVESE, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
The traditional way of observing children describes them according to a linear conception of time, in which they “grow” and “develop”. In this way, as sociologists have observed, children are positioned in their future, as developing beings, while their present is ignored. Against this background, the sociology of childhood shares the interest in children’s present social relationships. What is missing in both these observation methods is the importance of the past in creating children’s perspectives on their present and future. Evoking children’s past is a difficult task, as memory of past events is quickly replaced by present relational conditions and by a continuous pressure on future development. An effective way to give meaning to children’s past may be the use of images that evoke it. Here we present  a reflection based on a project that included the collection of private photos regarding children’s memories, and the use of these photos to produce shared narratives of children’s memories in classroom interactions.

Historians use images as documents that help construct memory as a basis for future perspectives on the past. This operation requires distance from the past; the images are stored and used as a repertoire to create “history”, i.e. to fix the memory of the past. In our project, the use of images of the children’s past had a different meaning. First, memory was an interactional construction in classrooms. Second, interactions among children reduced time distance, deconstructing memory and creating new narratives, rather than a repertoire of fixed memories. Third, this interactional construction of narratives of memories enhanced a future of knowledge and dialogue; in particular, these narratives changed the ways of giving meaning to children’s relationships. Memories were used as a source of surprise and innovation, therefore they were used to change the future of children through communication processes.