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Narration as action : the potential of pedagogical narration for leadership enactment in early childhood education contexts Berger, Iris


In the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE), especially in the sector that focuses on provision of care and education for children under the age of five, the concept of leadership has been under explored theoretically and empirically. The paucity in ECE leadership research has become particularly troubling because early education has recently been the subject of major policy changes. The changes are characterized by formulation of centralized ECE curricula and closer structural relations between ECE and formal schooling. These changes present a growing risk of narrowing the possibilities for thinking what ECE might be about/for. The purpose of this qualitative multiple-case research project was to study the leadership potential that an innovative practice called pedagogical narration has for reinvigorating public conversations that complicate and broaden the discussion about purposes and values of early education. Pedagogical narration involves a process through which early childhood educators create and share narratives about significant pedagogical occurrences with children from their early childhood settings with the purpose of engaging others in critical dialogue where questions about meanings, identities, and values are made visible and open for disputation and renewal. The study focused on exploring what new possibilities for leadership enactment and leadership identities arise when early childhood educators engage with the practice of pedagogical narration. By drawing on Hannah Arendt’s political theory, leadership was reconstituted as ethical and political action that is enacted through inserting into the public domain narratives that interrupt habitual thought, opening the space for new understandings of our plural existence. Significant leadership events illuminated the potential of pedagogical narration for enacting leadership through: reconstituting ECE as a public space, mitigating habits of thoughtlessness, and pluralizing the identities of children. The study offers new conceptual options for theorizing and enacting leadership in ECE contexts, as well as providing a conceptual terrain from which new leadership identities for early childhood educators can emerge.

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