The project I am currently engaged in takes its epistemological starting point in German-Scandinavian Critical Psychology following Klaus Holzkamp and others. This “school of thought” is deeply rooted in Dialectical Materialism and has heavily drawn on A.N. Leont’ev’s work on the concept of “activity” (amongst other), thus developing a psychology that conceptualises the subject as a “centre of intentionality” which is inextricably interrelated with the world. My project builds on this ontological understanding of the subject-world relationship in order to elucidate kindergarten children’s intentions for getting involved with (electronic) media technologies, and how the children use them to interact with each other as well as the adults to actively contribute to the shared kindergarten practices. At the heart of the project lies the question whether the children’s activities (or actions) are related to these media technologies just as they are related to any other everyday object, and what eventual differences might imply for how children come to develop their understandings of (or learn about) the world and the possibilities for action it concretely offers.
The common grounds between Critical Psychology and Socio-Cultural-Historical Research are obvious and become even more so when doing research with children on the object-relatedness of their everyday activities. Consequently some of the more recent cultural-historical theories on studying children and play (e.g., by Hedegaard and Fleer) gave very valuable insights for preparing and implementing my three-month participant observation in a kindergarten last summer. Furthermore I was able to share and discuss some of the theoretical pre-assumptions of my work at this year’s ISCAR Congress in Rome. The audience echoed my impression that for the upcoming phase of intense analysis of the collected data, I could look more comprehensively into the work of Vygotsky, El’konin, Kravtsova and Kravtsov with their focus on the relation of play and learning. This impression was amplified during a PhD course Marilyn Fleer and Mariane Hedegaard gave in late September in Copenhagen on how to use video in cultural-historical child research.
As I have blocked the next spring semester to “dig deeper” into my data and relate some of the activities as well as conflicts or dilemmas encountered in the kindergarten to the work of the aforementioned cultural-historical researchers, the ISCAR Summer University takes place right when I will have analysed most of my data set. Hence, I should hopefully be aware of the dilemmas I am having in interpreting the material. For me, the lectures and especially the discussions with leading scholars and fellow junior scholars are a great opportunity to collaboratively think about the possibilities as well as the limitations of my material and subsequently of the whole project.
Presentation “On the subjective relevance of media technologies for kindergarten children’s everyday conducts of life”
Download presentation of the speech (PDF; 630KB)