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2021 Research Symposium Concurrent Sessions

Democratic pedagogy as a ‘circular movement in the mind of the teacher and the child’


Claudia Gudicci President of Reggio Children discusses the importance of building different contexts and the care in how the inter-connectedness and beauty of the languages in the space is not improvised, rather very specific work of the teacher.

The notion of planning being completely reliant on ‘the child’s interest’ has become more and more common across ECEC. But what is a child’s interest really and why is it on the child to be the sole creator of the curriculum? What level of decision making can an educator have or should have when intentionally planning?

The team at Rosie’s Early Learning have been collating research over many years through combining teacher led research and children’s emerging play to genuinely document and understand the competency of a child. This action research has identified that a democratic pedagogy is the circular movement in the minds of educators as researchers to observe, document and renovate pedagogy whilst re-launching a deep dive of curiosity with the children. Far greater than solely what a child is interested in.

Influenced and underpinned by multiple educational theories and approaches, educators will be engaged in deep critical reflection on how to practice decisions influence pedagogical strategies for educators within kindergarten/preschool; LDC and FDC.

Presenter: Carrie Rose
Carrie Rose

Feeling our way … researching material experiences in a digital landscape


This project was conducted by four colleagues in three states who decided to use the time gifted to them by COVID-19 to research ways of learning together with materials using the internet as a connector and means of communicating.
We all live in a material world in a material body; and yet there is a tendency, often encouraged by our system of education, to retire into the conceptual world within our heads as we grow into adulthood. There are many things however, that we can only learn from the material world. Materials provoke us to see the world anew and in ways that words do not. They are a connector of ways of knowing and generate complex, ecological meaning making.
We set out to conduct a long term research project with an intention of becoming aware of the way materials teach us about the world around us, each other and ourselves. We were interested in the process of sensory perception and the way our senses modify and inform us about the world in which we live. We decided to focus our research on the sensory perception of movement.
From a pedagogical perspective, our intention in working in this way was to become more sensitive to our own learning strategies and the knowledge building strategies of the group. We believed that this way of working, of entering into the unknown, guided by questions and intentions, could help us to form ourselves as teachers and learners. We were not disappointed.

Presenters: Chris Celada, David Gilkes, Margo Hobba and Shauna McIntyre
Chris Celada
Margo Hobba
David Gilkes
Shauna McIntyre

In Relationship With Trees


Why do children give trees/ inanimate objects human like qualities and characteristics? Is it to connect with our natural world?  To give them an identity in order to form/ pursue a relationship?

This presentation, ‘In Relationship With Trees’ explores the co-construction of a multitude of relationships between, a small group of 3 year olds, the trees both in and around our centre environment and the variety of creative materials offered to them to make sense of their ideas and wonderings. Relationships flourished as their inquiry and natural empathy emerged. The many images, conversations and artworks in this presentation, make evident their deep understanding of the complexities of empathy and humanity. Collaboratively, they embraced our natural environment and its potential to inspire them, exhibiting the significance of working in partnership with each other. Our research encompassed visiting the trees in the park near our service, welcoming a new tree to our environment and exploring trees through multimedia and the 100 languages. This investigation follows their joy and delight in encountering and fostering an ongoing relationship with trees, connectedness in relationship with our natural world and empowering children’s sense of environmental responsibility in knowing that they can make a difference.

“It is our collective and individual responsibility…to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live.”

Dalai Lama

Presenter: Antonia Folden
Antonia Folden

Pathways to participation- one parent’s story of research


The importance of strong collaborations with families and early childhood settings is often cited as the cornerstone of thriving centres but what does this look and feel like? How could we evaluate this important and impactful collaboration? Kristen Hobby offers a unique insight into her journey from first entering an Early learning Centre (ELC) as a parent and finding her place in the community, the experience of participation through to research partner as she embarked on her PhD at the centre exploring the lived experiences of young children in the great outdoors. During this presentation, Kristen will share her personal story, and how she was welcomed in the centre. She will delve into what she connected with and uncovered about Reggio Emilia philosophies, documentation and the image of the child and how this informed, transformed and often challenged her as a parent. Kristen will also outline how the centre supported her research in a myriad of ways over her eight year PhD journey. While Kristen’s perspective may be unique, there is much to be gleamed from her story that can inform the collaborative partnership between families and centres.

Presenter: Dr Kristen Hobby
Kristen Hobby

Pedagogical practice as professional learning – a journey of relationships and collaborative intent


New Horizons Preschool is an early childhood setting for children aged 3 – 5 years. We have 160 enrolments, over two campuses in Lenah Valley and Battery Point, Tasmania.
This presentation will appeal to all delegates working alongside young children; educators/teachers, educational leaders and centre managers. This presentation is aimed at those who have some understanding of and experience with the Reggio Emilia Educational Project.
At New Horizons Preschool, we currently employ 22 staff, who vary in age, experience and qualifications. Through this presentation, I will examine how we have transformed our ‘professional development’ practices in order to nurture a culture of inquiry. Where we commit to pedagogical practice as professional development, where relationships, the complexity of teacher research and collective inquiry are valued and cultivated.
I will share a series of collective narratives from our context about how our values of working alongside children are reflected in our values of working alongside adults. These experiences will demonstrate how this shift in perspective, by focusing on our ongoing co-research alongside children, has not only supported and challenged educators, but also inspired them to continue with authentic, ongoing professional development; including exploring more deeply principles around democratic participation, reflective practice, dialogue, listening and relationships.

Presenter: Lou Kirkwood
Lou Kirkwood

Worlding With Robotics: A Gadigal Song Line


“It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what descriptions describe descriptions, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.”
(Haraway, 2016, p. 12)

Country, robots, music, instruments, analogue and digital technologies, children, teachers and curriculum intraentwingled together. Our research pedagogy collective is a syncopated dance of wonder, deliberation, risk, playfulness, faux pas, grappling and bliss that matters. Through a posthuman enquiry we knit and knot together innovative approaches to generating pedagogy that is culturally, politically and creatively nuanced to where we are and who and what else is here with us. The stories we will tell through film making offer a glimpse into the uncapturable moments of our teaching. Festooned with our own learning and our engagements with big ideas in little moments we offer an opportunity to plug into the extraordinary capacities of children and how they utterly surpass the confinements of developmental trajectories. Expect beautiful imagery, playful uses of technology, sounds of Country, musical composition and practical engagements with ‘theory’ as we tell our stories to your stories to make them matter…

Presenters: Dr Red Ruby Scarlet, Natalie Cordukes, Giuliana Ricci and Catherine Stephenson
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