Denise Bailey, recent Sociology graduate, published her article “Getting on their level: preschool teachers embodying the ideal preschooler” in Childhood Sage Journals. Read an excerpt of her paper below.
"Getting on their level: Preschool teachers embodying the ideal preschooler"
An ethical commitment to liberating children has led childhood scholars to overlook pedagogies that afford children’s active participation. This article thus shows how preschool teachers contribute to less hierarchical moments of intergenerational interaction with their students, facilitating opportunities for agency. Teachers do so by embodying the ideal preschooler, becoming readable to children as affiliative through their bodies. The author describes these practices and highlights the ideological contexts that facilitate their emergence, and then explores contexts that limit, constrain, or change them.
A key contribution of Childhood Studies has been to make theoretical space for children’s active participation in the social world, and to argue for its value in its own right (James et al., 1998; James and Prout, 1997; Pugh, 2013). This insight has been taken up in early education settings insofar as active-participatory learning has contemporaneously gained prominence as a pedagogical approach (Hohmann, 2008). Yet, while a pedagogical and scholarly orientation to “getting on children’s level” rests on an assumption of adults participating in the process of “leveling,” childhood scholars have largely maintained an analytical focus on children.
An ethical commitment in Childhood Studies to liberating children has reinforced this tendency to relegate adults to the margins of analyses. Liberation requires an oppressor from whom to be liberated; in the case of Childhood Studies, the primary source of oppression is the adult world. This has created skepticism around schooling, socialization, and developmental psychology, which in turn has led these scholars to overlook the fact that pedagogies have contemporaneously been adopted, which revalue “childlike tendencies” and afford both children and their teachers a participatory role.