Bodies as Sites of Cultural Reflection in Early Childhood Education
Taking the body as a locus for discussion, Rachael S. Burke and Judith Duncan argue not only that implicit cultural practices shape most of the interactions taking place in early childhood curricula and pedagogy but that many of these practices often go unnoticed or unrecognized as being pedagogy. Current scholars, inspired by Foucault, acknowledge that the body is socially and culturally produced and historically situated—it is simultaneously a part of nature and society as well as a representation of the way that nature and society can be conceived. Every natural symbol originating from the body contains and conveys a social meaning, and every culture selects its own meaning from the myriad of potential body symbolisms.
Bodies as Sites of Cultural Reflection in Early Childhood Education uses empirical examples from qualitative fieldwork conducted in New Zealand and Japan to explore these theories and discuss the ways in which children’s bodies represent a central focus in teachers’ pedagogical discussions and create contexts for the embodiment of children’s experiences in the early years.
Table of Contents
LIST OF FIGURES
NOTE ON AUTHORS
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS
SERIES EDITOR INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER 1: Introduction
Marcel Mauss and the emergence of the body in anthropological theory.
The work of Mary Douglas.
Michel Foucault and the body.
The three bodies.
Methodology Behind the Scenes
Field site structure and daily routines.
The Development of Early Childhood Services in New Zealand and Japan
Outline of the Book
CHAPTER 2: Children’s Bodies as Contested Sites
The Un(clothed) Body
The naked child in Japanese educational settings.
The Japanese Child’s Body as a Symbol of Nostalgia
Skinship as cultural ideology.
The collective unclothed body.
The Protected Body in New Zealand Early Childhood Education
Bodies under surveillance.
Normalising the clothed body.
Keeping the Japanese Child’s Body Safe
Framing the Child’s Body
Notions of privacy.
The Body as a Site of Excretion
The body as teacher in Japanese early childhood education.
Reflecting on Children’s Bodies as Culturally Contested
CHAPTER 3: Embodying the Curriculum
Engaging the Body in Sensory Play
Wrapping and unwrapping the body.
The Body as a Counterpoint to Modern Lifestyles
The cultural meanings of touch.
The body as a medium of communication.
The Physical Self
Embodying gambaru in the Japanese context.
Reflections on Embodying the Curriculum
CHAPTER 4: Risk and the Body
Towards a Discourse of Risk
The Position of Children in the Risk Society
Perilous Play: The Kindergarten Playground as Culturally Contested Space
A Pedagogy of Risk
Creating Real and Imagined Boundaries to Minimise Risk
Cultural Definitions of Safe Supervision
The low profile of Japanese teachers.
The use of real tools.
Tools as iconic symbols.
Assessing the risks and rewards of real tools.
Defining objects in play as safe or risky.
Perceptions of Risk and the Body
CHAPTER 5: The Body as a Site of Discipline
Noise as counterproductive.
Noise as organic.
Conflict and Confrontation
Rights discourses in New Zealand.
The lessons of conflict.
Learning communicative competency.
The Use of Time and Space
Time and space as disciplinary techniques in the Japanese kindergarten.
Children’s Bodies as Objects of the Medical Gaze
Reflecting on the Body as a Site of Discipline
CHAPTER 6: The Body as Natural Symbol
Dirt and the Body
The Physical Body as a Microcosm of Society
The Symbolism of Protective Barriers
Bodily Fluids as Metaphors of Disorder
Purification of the Body
Food In and Out of Place
Rituals around food.
The lunchbox as a reflection of cultural ideology.
Reflecting on Constructions of Dirt, Pollution and Purity
CHAPTER 7: Bodies in Context
Bodies from the Beginning
Constructing the body.
The body and its products.
Internalising techniques of the body.
Order and the body.
Approaches to Dirt and Pollution
Coming Full Circle
Rachael S. Burke is Postdoctoral Fellow at Hiroshima University, Japan. She also conducts independent research in her role as Director of Small Earth Consulting Ltd., New Zealand.
Judith Duncan is Professor of Education, School of Educational Studies and Leadership, at University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
"A fascinating read but one that could potentially be a little cognitively challenging in places, if you are more a fan of practical, rather than academic, books. This would be very helpful for students looking to do an interesting dissertation for their early years degree, MA or PHD." – Martine Horvath, EYE Magazine
"Implicit cultural beliefs shape how children’s bodies are read, organized, responded to, and disciplined in early childhood education. This book makes some of these taken-for-granted beliefs and practices visible, thereby allowing for discussion about what it is that we believe about and want for young children in daycare." - Gail Boldt, Professor of Education, Pennsylvania State University, USA
"This book is closely aligned with the changing, theoretically advancing field of early childhood education at large. The work is interesting, critically reflective, effectively engages critical theories, and addresses the changing nature of the fields of study. The authors effectively use popular critical theoretical perspectives to deconstruct popular notions about children and childhood and embed creative research lenses to assist in these focused endeavors." - Richard T. Johnson, Professor, Curriculum Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA