Imaginative mutual concept creation in digitalized daycare centers

Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution


How can digital tools in daycare settings help with developing the imagination and knowledge of young children? Where are the limitations of using these technologies in such institutionalized pedagogical settings? And what understandings of development, of imagination, of knowledge creation, and of (digital) technology could we draw on in order to truly take a point of departure in the social situation of the child, in the child’s societally mediated and yet unique motives?Empirically, I take up these problems from within the context of Danish Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) institutions. As I recently underlined in a blog post, Denmark has been known for its high acceptance of technology-welcoming discourses. In 2014, a report commissioned by the Danish Agency for Digitisation under the Ministry of Finance asserted that “digital media came to stay” in Danish ECEC institutions. By 2017, up to 65% of all Danish day care centers used digital tools in their pedagogical work with children at least once a week. The latest digital communication tool, Aula, commissioned by the municipalities association Local Government Denmark, will be adopted by almost every Danish municipality in 2020 and collect teacher-parental communication all the way from the crèche to 9th grade. In sum, digital tools are widespread in Danish daycare centers, though first and foremost used for administrative purposes and institution-parent communication, and apparently slightly less for pedagogical (or rather didactic) purposes. Meanwhile, what ECEC digitalization’s more overarching societal and democratic purpose is, beyond mere economic interests, as well as what its actual relevance is for supporting children’s development and learning, remains largely undiscussed (see also Balslev, 2020).Inspired by Vygotsky’s 1929 article “The fundamental problems of defectology” (Vygotsky, 2004a), I suggest that children’s knowledges remain surrounded by an aura of defectiveness when contrasted with adult knowledges, most often negatively defined as what they have not yet become (see Chimirri, 2019). This creates a problem, namely that we (adults) do not conceptually feel afforded to finding out what there is to learn from children about the digitalized world. But we are in dire need of children’s knowledges, for instance in order to be able to co-imagine what a pedagogically and societally meaningful use and development of digital tools could look like: we need to be able to relate to the child’s social situation of development, to the child’s needs and motives, from within our fellow activity with the child, irrespective of the child’s age, from within our joint everyday life.I will make this argument by drawing on Vygotsky’s “Imagination and creativity in childhood (Vygotsky, 2004b), on Wartofsky’s (1979) artefact theory, on Hedegaard’s chapter about pre-school children’s development of concept relations (Hedegaard, 2007), as well as on her insight that children not only meet demands, but also put demands on others, including adults and societal institutions (Hedegaard, 2012). In my reading, then, children constantly seek to co-determine their own social situation of development by inviting into transgenerational mutual concept creation, by formulating their demands – but do we understand these demands? And do we take them serious enough to have our social situations of development be co-determined by children? Or do our ontological presumptions about children, about pedagogy, about development and learning, limit the creation of sustainable conceptual knowledge about the purposefulness of digital tools in ECEC?Discussing these questions, the presentation calls for a more democratic self-understanding of the researcher, or actually: of every adult; a self-understanding that implies humility, mutuality, and the willingness to actively and imaginatively co-transform one’s conceptual relations to the world – inspired by Stetsenko’s (2008) transformative activist stance and in line with German-Scandinavian critical psychology from the standpoint of the subject and its democratic practice research ethics (see Chimirri & Pedersen, 2019).
Period8 Jul 2020
Event titleISCAR Online Summer Seminar 2020
Event typeSeminar
LocationMoscow, Russian Federation
Degree of RecognitionInternational