UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Learning through representation : young children’s meaning-making via narratives Ahn, Jiryung


This study investigates how young children (five-year-olds) describe and represent their understanding of experience, identity, relationship and place through oral and visual stories that engage them with the real and imaginary worlds. Narrative inquiry enabled me to uncover unrecognized and taken for granted experiences of young children. Through narrative inquiry, children’s experiences were unearthed and translated into stories that led me to inquire about who they are and where they are. The analysis presented in this study was drawn from narratives in play and artworks of five-year-old children living in Vancouver, British Columbia. In order to represent my complex research inquiry, I have composed the dissertation as a tapestry of different kinds of text, including children’s play transcriptions and artwork, personal journal writings, reflections, and interpretations (written in italics). In this research project, young children represented their understanding of the world through diverse meaning-making processes. In their narratives, children illustrated that they construct and establish their identities as moral, social, cultural, and gendered beings. While crossing and reconfiguring different contexts, children were awakened to the possibilities of developing identity. Children reconstructed and re-imagined their own emergent forms of identity by living and reliving fantasy stories and natural conversations. This study argues that narrative practices in young children are social, moral and cultural practices. Young children’s narrative constructions embrace fabricated complexity and tensions as well. While being with children, I found that cultivating a meaning-making practice is vital to the formation of one’s identity. This research investigates the significance of narrative in young children’s understandings and interpretations of their worlds. This information is crucial in understanding the role that storytelling and narrative can play in education. This study invites educators (such as myself, a Korean early childhood education scholar) to revise and develop narrative-centred curriculum for young children to reflect on their living perspectives.

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