Children`s and Preschool Teacher`s Photographs of New Preschool Architecture: Issues of Participation and Interpretation

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: Booth 65
Oral Presentation
Kim RASMUSSEN , Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark

Children's and preschool teacher´s photographs and experiences of new preschool architecture

Kim Rasmussen  

In an ongoing project (2013-2014) about children´s and preschool teacher´s interactions with and experiences of new architecture/physical environment, young children between 2-5 years and their preschool teachers has photographed the physical and social environment. A numbers of photo-elicitated interviews with the preschool teachers had been held over the summer too. These actions have created increased awareness of the relationship between the physical and social environment and generated a lot of communication and interpretations among all involved. The project continues during the wintertime.

The aim of the project, (inspired from action research, new childhood sociology, phenomenology) is to create knowledge (on basis of experiences, narratives, observations/field notes, photos/visual knowledge) about the preschool environment, which might qualify the discourse of kindergartens and the new architecture.

The architecture in new childcare-institutions breaks on several points with the former idea of "kindergarten" (small environments with an emphasis on domesticity, development and play). The new preschools in Denmark are bulky, contains many children (some more than 200 children), and are highly transparent (widespread use of glass in both interior and exterior walls). The new architecture is based on (neoliberal) ideas of flexibility and puts the emphasis on early childhood learning. But one thing is the ideas of politicians, architects and builders, another is how the buildings are "lived" and coded/decoded (Bernstein) and experienced by the participants.

The paper and presentation will focus on issues of interpretation visual data and dilemmas experienced during the process of cooperation with the preschool teachers and children. A key issue is the asymmetry between children and adults: preschool teachers play a key role in the interpretation of children's photos, while it is difficult to invite and involve children (2-5 years) to interpret their own photos and words.