Literature and Philosophical Play in Early Childhood Education: A Humanities Based Approach to Research and Practice, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Literature and Philosophical Play in Early Childhood Education

A Humanities Based Approach to Research and Practice, 1st Edition

By Viktor Johansson


140 pages

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Hardback: 9780815378389
pub: 2019-01-08
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Literature and Philosophical Play in Early Childhood Education explores the role of philosophy and the humanities as pedagogy in early childhood educational research and practice, arguing that research should attend to questions about education and growth that concern social structures, individual development, and existential aspects of learning. It demonstrates how we can think of pedagogy and educational practices in early childhood as artistic, poetic, and philosophical, and exemplifies a humanities-based approach by giving literature and artful play a place in shaping the ground of practice and research.

The book explores a range of alternative approaches to theory in education and the feasibility of a curriculum of moral values for young children and contains a variety of scenes involving children’s play and involvement with literature and fiction. It portrays how engaging with children’s play can be a philosophical and pedagogical investigation where children’s own philosophising is taken seriously, where children’s thoughts are put on a par with established research and philosophy. Moreover, the book engages with a range of different forms of literature – picture books, novels, auto-fiction, poetry – and develops these as portrayals that serve as a basis for non-theoretical and poetic pedagogical research.

Literature and Philosophical Play in Early Childhood Education will be of great interest to academics, researchers, and post-graduate students in the fields of philosophy and education. It will also appeal to upper-level undergraduates, school psychologists, teachers, and therapists.


"In a world saturated, burdened even, by educational facts and figures, Johansson reminds teachers of the wisdom of children’s stories, and of the stories that children tell. Literature and Philosophical Play in Early Childhood Education offers a pedagogical poetry for each and every teacher, in any educational context, to enrich the curriculum, and to enrich the ways in which they make sense of their lives as pedagogues through poetic questioning."

Dr Andrew Gibbons, Associate Professor, AUT University, New Zealand.

"For all those interested in the educational role of philosophy (both as theory and as practice) and, more generally, in the relationships between education, philosophy and childhood, Literature and Philosophical Play in Early Childhood Education is an endless source of inspiration and questioning. Full of artistic and poetical testimonies, this book not only explores what a philosophical education of childhood could look like, but also and mainly what form a childhood of a new philosophical education would have: one informed by the art and joy of listening and attention to childhood."

Walter Omar Kohan, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Table of Contents


Introduction: There are Stories

1. The State of the Learning Soul: Literature and in and as Educational Research

2. An Entangled Life with Children’s Existential Perplexity

3. Platonic Caves, Educational Lies, and Good Enough Mothering

4. Fiction and Reality in Children’s Artful Play

5. Passionate Immediacy and Dinosaur Philosophy

6. Wildly Wise in the Terrible Moment

7. A Plea for a Literary Posthumanism Between Theory, Narrative, and Life

8. The Motherly Poetry of Pedagogy

About the Author

Viktor Johansson, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Pedagogy at Södertörn University in Sweden. He has worked on issues in philosophy of education, in particular on the role of children’s literature in philosophy and early childhood education, as well as on pedagogical relations between children and adults.

About the Series

New Directions in the Philosophy of Education

This book series is devoted to the exploration of new directions in the philosophy of education. After the linguistic turn, the cultural turn, and the historical turn, where might we go? Does the future promise a digital turn with a greater return to connectionism, biology and biopolitics based on new understandings of system theory and knowledge ecologies? Does it foreshadow a genuinely alternative radical global turn based on a new openness and interconnectedness? Does it leave humanism behind or will it reengage with the question of the human in new and unprecedented ways? How should philosophy of education reflect new forces of globalization? How can it become less Anglo-centric and develop a greater sensitivity to other traditions, languages, and forms of thinking and writing, including those that are not routed in the canon of Western philosophy but in other traditions that share the ‘love of wisdom’ that characterizes the wide diversity within Western philosophy itself. Can this be done through a turn to intercultural philosophy? To indigenous forms of philosophy and philosophizing? Does it need a post-Wittgensteinian philosophy of education? A postpostmodern philosophy? Or should it perhaps leave the whole construction of 'post'-positions behind?

In addition to the question of the intellectual resources for the future of philosophy of education, what are the issues and concerns that philosophers of education should engage with? How should they position themselves? What is their specific contribution? What kind of intellectual and strategic alliances should they pursue? Should philosophy of education become more global, and if so, what would the shape of that be? Should it become more cosmopolitan or perhaps more decentred? Perhaps most importantly in the digital age, the time of the global knowledge economy that reprofiles education as privatized human capital and simultaneously in terms of an historic openness, is there a philosophy of education that grows out of education itself, out of the concerns for new forms of teaching, studying, learning and speaking that can provide comment on ethical and epistemological configurations of economics and politics of knowledge? Can and should this imply a reconnection with questions of democracy and justice?

This series comprises texts that explore, identify and articulate new directions in the philosophy of education. It aims to build bridges, both geographically and temporally: bridges across different traditions and practices and bridges towards a different future for philosophy of education.

Learn more…

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