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Meaning making, democratic participation and art in early childhood education: Can inspiring objects structure dynamic curricula?

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Young students' democratic participation in the pedagogical work of early childhood education is required by law in Norway. In order to explore pedagogical methods, which allow students' democratic participation in visual arts curricula, an action research project with a sociocultural profile was conducted. Generating space for the students' contributions required ongoing interpretation and reflection during the pedagogical work, and through this process a new understanding of curricula as dynamic emerged. During the research project the teachers and students mutually and continuously influenced each other's meaning making. This challenged the teachers to search for a suitable balance between planning and pedagogical improvisation, which involved careful listening to children. The findings from the study suggest that flexible curricula can be structured around careful choices of inspirational objects (stories, sculptures, art paintings and art materials) in art-based and interdisciplinary work in early childhood education.
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Keywords: art materials; creativity; democratic participation; dynamic curricula; early childhood; meaning making

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Vestfold University College.

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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  • The International Journal of Education through Art is an English language journal that promotes relationships between art and education. The term 'art education' should be taken to include art, craft and design education. Each issue, published three times a year within a single volume, consists of peer-reviewed articles mainly in the form of research reports and critical essays, but may also include exhibition reviews and image-text features.

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