In this paper, we identify ways in which the learning of very young children can be supported by practitioners developing a schematic pedagogy which focuses on structures of children’s thinking. First, we provide a critical overview of relevant literature on schemas and schematic approaches to pedagogy. We then outline an original study undertaken to identify and support the learning of seven young children. Taking one child, whom we call Annie, we illustrate how her attention to the fine detail of elements of her home and group environments as she played offered strong clues to her pedagogues about her persistent interests (schemas). We show how careful observation by practitioners can be used to understand and support future learning encounters through a schematic pedagogy, and we consider implications of such an approach for practice in toddlers’ early learning.
This special issue of iJADE is devoted to the art education of young children, and provides a timely platform for the dissemination of new research in this important area. For many young children their artistic experiences can prove to be some of the most profound and insightful of their early education. Although these creative moments are frequently integrated with a multitude of other educational experiences, nonetheless the artistic ones have a singularity, making them unique within the educational experience as a whole. It is the predominance of a visual epistemology that provides this specificity, and it hardly needs stating that knowing by means of the visual is of profound importance in our contemporary societies. The demonstration and the parole of this ‘knowing’ by young children should not be seen as peripheral, or as an adjunct to education. Fundamental to a well-informed art education are the critical expression of meaning and purpose, no matter how tentative these might appear. These practices entail a critical engagement with the languages of visual imagery, to which children readily adapt.
Remarkable capabilities are divulged in the most conspicuous ways as children play. This can lead the devoted and discerning observer into a deeper understanding of the intricate nature of young children’s thinking. In what they do, the language they use and the things they make as they play, children acquaint us with important aspects of their learning and development. Through careful observation, underlying patterns in thinking can emerge as children work on their schemas. With this in mind, the imperative for adults working with young children to sustain and nurture these forms of thought becomes ever more apparent.
The brutality of life on the street is explored in this paper with a young homeless couple and the ragged community they are part of. Destitution, prostitution, drugs and crime sculpt their lives and identify them as the symbolic edge of society, the boundary of civilisation, at the cultural margins, where subsistence is in a state of decomposition. Deserving of adversity? Theirs is a bordered being which seems to inspire a remarkable fortitude. They defy their abjected state of being in a Nietzschean determination for a kind of redemption in this life. Paradoxically, however damaged and broken their lives, however pitilessly rejection is dealt, however ravaged they are by what I would describe as the education of the street; this bleak place is often suffused with tenderness and compassion, intensely enacted and understood. How these moments variously unfold, frequently in searingly public places, is offered here and affords a glimpse of a life few could endure.
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