The role of subjectivity in understanding teacher development in a scientific Playworld: the emotional and symbolic nature of being a teacher of science

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Many studies have been undertaken to better understand children’s development. Yet, little attention has been directed to how children’s development is reciprocally related to the development of the teacher. In this chapter, the concepts of subjective sense and subjective configuration as proposed by González Rey are drawn upon to analyse teacher subjectivity during periods of teaching science. The focus is not “the science teacher” but rather the “person who is a teacher of science”. In this chapter, the lens is centred on the personal narrative of a preschool teacher who participated in a study designed to teach concepts, not as an objective body of knowledge, but rather as embedded in a series of Scientific Playworlds. Through following the teacher’s emotions and the symbolic processes generated when implementing Scientific Playworlds over 2 years, insights were gained into the dynamic and evolving subjective senses of what it means to teach science to young children in play-based settings. In using a cultural-historical framing of subjectivity, as advanced by Gonzalez Rey, science knowledge was not conceptualised as an individual construction, but rather something that is historically located, emotionally charged, and socially produced through human relations. The findings show that the teaching of science concepts is connected directly to how the teacher and children together make meaning and how their motives change through their relations with each other and with the Scientific Playworld narrative that developed over time. Science was collectively conceptualised by the teacher and the children through how it was imagined, re-imagined, and emotionally and symbolically produced in the Scientific Playworld. Although subjectivity is rarely discussed in the teaching of science, it is argued in this chapter that it should take centre stage for better understanding practice and research in science education in early childhood settings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSubjectivity within Cultural-Historical Approach
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, methodology and Research
EditorsFernando González Rey, Albertina Mitjáns Martínez, Daniel Magalhães Goulart
Place of PublicationSingapore Singapore
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789811331558
ISBN (Print)9789811331541
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Cultural-Historical Research
ISSN (Print)2520-1530
ISSN (Electronic)2520-1549

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