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2021 Research Symposium Invited Speaker Sessions

The Reggio Emilia atelier as an inspiration for pedagogical and cultural transformation: remaking research alliances through exchange, dialogue, and experimentation.

In this presentation, Dr Stefania Giamminuti and Dr Jane Merewether convey insights into the meaning and role of the atelier in the pedagogical and cultural experience of the world-renowned municipal infant-toddler centres and schools of the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy. They outline the atelier’s potential impact on transforming teacher professional learning by sharing a recent research project, a collaboration between academic researchers and a dedicated team of teacher researchers who work with children in a variety of settings from play groups to long day care to government and independent primary school settings. This co-participated research project, the Digital Investigations Atelier, culminated in an installation hosted at Curtin University in Western Australia in July 2019 as part of the REAIE Biennial Conference.

This presentation illuminates: the varied voices of members of the research team discussing the ‘theatrical’ collaborative experience of creating the atelier; the process of installation of this experimental space and its emphasis on alliances, exchange and dialogue between teachers and academics; visitors’ perceptions of their experience interacting in the digital atelier; and the potential of ateliers for bringing experimentation into the realm of the everyday in early childhood settings. We propose that with the aid of experimentation, invention, aesthetics, and professional alliances, early childhood education can be re-made in respect of democratic values and imaginative practices.

Presenters: Dr Stefania Giamminuti and Dr Jane Merewether
Jane Merewether-PRINT-ONLT-Adobe-RGB98

Understanding our relationships to place, history and power: educating for social justice

This session will explore how the education institutions that we work within are shaped by where they are located, their history and its legacies, and the way power operates within them. I will examine how, as educators, our relationship to place, history and power in the spaces we work informs how and what we do – in the classroom, outside of the classroom, with the curriculum, with our education communities. I will propose that building our knowledge and consciousness of these relationships can enable us to create education communities that are stronger interpersonally and relationally, particularly for children and young people who may be marginalised or deemed to be disengaged and disadvantaged. This session will, therefore, offer some tools, opportunities and provocations for strengthening our capacity to educate for social justice.

Presenter: Dr Sophie Rudolph
Sophie Rudolph

Visions Of Children’s Capability 

Just how capable are preschool children and how does the wider community view that capability? Evans Head Preschool facilitates a full day nature classroom ‘Boogal Jugoon’ – on the grounds of a local central school. The learning which occurs throughout the day is infinite, however, the walk to and from the site captured educators’ wonderings in two key ways:

  1. How capable are children?


  1. How is children’s capability viewed in the community?

This presentation presents the happenings that occur as children and educators walk to their nature classroom site. The focus for children’s capability arises from ‘the trolley’, which is laden with the provisions for the day; and the encounters that the group have with the community on the way.

Presenters: Associate Professor Wendy Boyd, Cath Gillespie and Kirby Barker
Copy of headshots current (1)

Affective Pedagogical Relationships through Solidarity and Research Dialogue with Infant-toddler Educators

We draw from our recent book to share vibrant knowledge of affective infant-toddler (birth-to-three) pedagogy. Combining cultural-historical theory with visual methods, frames the pedagogical case examples.

Using contemporary pedagogical practices from infant-toddler contexts (e.g. nappy change, mealtimes and play), reveals the highly specialised nature of infant toddler educator’s work. Affective relations, in particular, responsive listening between educators (as teacher researchers) and infant-toddlers, promotes affective dialogue. Heightened pedagogical awareness comes through collaborative dialogue and positions infant-toddler educators as both effective and affective educators.

Our methodological research tools such as collaborative forums among the researchers and educators, inspired by Reggio Emilia values, use shared dialogue around video observation, images and drawing, to provoke sensitive reflection and research between researchers and educators. This shapes the partnerships between educators and researchers to enhance and cultivate scholarly dialogue, thus creating research-based pedagogy for advancing infant-toddler education.

Presenters: Dr Avis Ridgway, Dr Gloria Quinones and Dr Liang Li
Avis Gloria and Liang

Infants’ encounters with curriculum

Much has been written about affording young children (including infants) rights to participate in matters that affect them. In particular, most curriculum guides—including the Early Years Learning Framework—reflect contemporary images of children as powerful learners, capable of contributing to their own and others’ learning. While there are many examples in the literature of participatory approaches to curriculum for older preschool children, there is less written about how we might see and act on these capacities with the youngest children.

This session considers the experiences of infants as they encounter curriculum in their early childhood settings. We will explore Levinas’ idea of the ‘benediction’ as an invitation to the curriculum encounter. These invitations will be the basis for reconsidering infants’ capacities to be seen as agents and protagonists in their curriculum encounters. We will explore how we can tune in to infants’ interests, ideas and motivations for learning, to enrich our relational pedagogies in working alongside the youngest children.

Presenter: Dr Sandra Cheeseman
Sandra Cheesman
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