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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Living curriculum with young children : the journey of an early childhood educator : the tangled garden Hayward-Kabani, Christianne

Abstract

This thesis chronicles a journey for which there is no end. The journey is the author's search for authentic curriculum -- teaching and learning built around socially relevant themes, designed through an organic development process, and negotiated in relation to the interests of individual learners and the communities that support them. In struggling to find a "lens" that would allow children to navigate change in an increasingly complicated society, the author shifted her focus from the substantive domain to the perceptual. Influenced by Case's (1995) discourse regarding the nurturing of "global perspectives" in young children, the author identified nine characteristics of a "global/diversity" perspective. Rather than infusing curriculum with more information, teachers would nurture an approach to learning that permits children to suspend judgment, entertain contrary positions, anticipate complexity, and tolerate ambiguity. Through the use of "counter-hegemonic" children's literature the author found she could nurture the "seeds" of alternative perspectives forming a strong foundation for understanding and tolerance in the classroom and beyond. It is important to emphasise that the author had to internalise a "global/diversity perspective" herself in order to nurture it in others through a generative process she refers to as "living curriculum". The research methodology of currere was employed as a means of exorcising the unacknowledged biases, personal contradictions, and divergent influences that have fed the author's identity, and thus necessarily informed her philosophies and actions as an educator. The methodology of autobiography was a critical factor in permitting the author to recognise and take ownership of her own education. Autobiography led her into the tangled garden and compelled her to make sense of its organic cycles. The method of autobiography typically rattles the comfort margins of educational researchers who see it as patronising sentimentality, rather than a rigorous analysis of self-knowledge within contemporary scholarship. It is important that autobiographical researchers demonstrate resonance of their lived experience in scholarly discourse and pedagogy. The author discusses a number of possible criteria that could be used to evaluate autobiographical research - the most important of these being that the work spawns reflection and stirs praxis within the reader.

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