Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Animal Magic, Secret Spells, and Green Power: More-than-Human Assemblages of Children’s Storytelling
by Molloy Murphy, Angela, Ed.D., Portland State University, 2020, 269; 27738558
Abstract (Summary)

Early childhood settings have become contested spaces, or sites of struggle, between economic and sociocultural interests disputing their purpose. Recent years have shown increased pressure on children in early education settings to demonstrate predetermined learning outcomes, which (a) limits the scope of what is possible in the classroom, (b) narrows the range of what learning is considered valid, and (c) privileges the experience and values of the dominant culture, thereby determining who and what matters in early childhood settings. Thus, in the current education climate where conventional knowledges are routinely privileged, unconventional knowledges and small stories from children’s lives are frequently disregarded or otherwise pushed to the margins of daily classroom life.

The purpose of this post qualitative study was to position children’s storytelling as a disruptive force to western, positivist, and humanist knowledges in early childhood education and research. In this study, I am thinking with theory using critical posthumanist/new materialist theories as a research approach to consider children’s storytelling in an early childhood setting. Adopting the role of observant participator, I worked alongside ten 2.5–5-year-old (co)-participants using observations, photography, and classroom discussions to investigate the relational and emergent dimensions of children’s storytelling. I used pedagogical narration as an approach to data analysis, drawing lines between interconnected episodes and pointing to the more-than-human relational encounters that were present in children’s everyday storytelling practices. In this study, I found storytelling to be a generative process, produced within a complex assemblage of human and non-human actors. The second finding that emerged is that an expanded concept of narrativity is required to fully attune and attend to the multiplicitous storytelling occurring within early childhood settings. Lastly, in this study, children’s stories were shown to have to the potential to act as thought experiments for envisioning possible worlds. This study broke from conventional education research by considering not what worlds are being reflected in children’s storytelling, but rather what worlds are being produced. This is an important distinction at this particular moment in history, when we must consider what knowledges are legitimized and what are outcast by our systems of education, and what worlds are produced and reproduced in the process.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Parnell, William
Commitee: Anderson, Ingrid, Nimmo, John, Meinhold, Jana
School: Portland State University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Early childhood education, Pedagogy, Social studies education
Keywords: Critical posthumanism, Early childhood education, Feminist new materialism, More-than-human, Narrative studies, Storytelling
Publication Number: 27738558
ISBN: 9798661683106
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