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Markmið rannsóknar þeirrar sem hér er greint frá er að varpa ljósi á hvernig mismunandi þekking leikskólabarna á barnaefni getur tengst kyni, uppruna og félagslegri stöðu þeirra í leikskóla. Spurt var: Þekking á hvers konar barnaefni er líklegust til að skapa fjögurra til fimm ára börnum virðingarsess í leikskóla?
Athugað var hvernig þekking fjórtán barna á því aldursbili í tveimur leikskólum í Reykjavík á barnabókum, mynddiskum, sjónvarpsefni og tölvuleikjum birtist í frjálsum leik og skapandi starfi. Virðingarsessinn var notaður sem mælitæki á félagslega stöðu barnanna og mældur út frá viðbrögðum jafningjahópsins við tilvísunum í barnaefni eftir því hvernig jafningjahópurinn staðfesti tilvísanir í barnaefnið,
hafnaði þeim eða hundsaði þær. Mat kennara og svör foreldra við spurningalista um notkun barnaefnis á heimilum voru notuð til þess að setja þekkingu barnanna í víðara félags- og kenningalegt samhengi. Niðurstöður sýna hvernig þekking á barnaefni birtist í leikjum og hvernig hún var staðfest, hún hundsuð eða henni hafnað af jafningjahópnum. Þær sýna jafnframt að mat kennaranna og lýsingar
foreldranna á notkun barnaefnis á heimilum voru í samræmi við það sem birtist í leikjunum. Þekking á ofurhetjum og tölvum skilaði drengjum hæsta virðingarsessi í leikskólunum. Þekking telpna á ævintýraefni sem inniheldur bæði spennu og tengsl skilaði einnig háum virðingarsessi þótt þekking telpnanna væri ekki staðfest jafn oft og þekking drengjanna. Börnin sem hlutu hæsta sessinn vísuðu oftar í barnaefni en hin börnin, voru í hópi elstu barnanna á deildunum og eiga háskólamenntaða foreldra. Börnin sem fylgdu fast á eftir þeim, töldust hafa öðlast meðalháan virðingarsess. Þessi börn höfðu almennt góða þekkingu á barnaefni en síðri þekkingu á tölvum og ofurhetjum en börn sem hæsta sessinn skipuðu. Foreldrar þeirra eru ýmist með stúdentspróf eða iðnmenntun. Börn sem nutu lítillar virðingar í jafningjahópnum notuðu sjaldan tilvísanir í barnaefni og þau voru börn foreldra sem höfðu einungis lokið grunnskólaprófi. Telpur staðfestu bæði þekkingu drengja og telpna en drengir staðfestu eingöngu þekkingu hvers annars.
This article is based on the third of three phases from the author’s 2012 doctoral thesis, Cultural literacy: The role of children’s literature and popular culture in two early childhood settings in Reykjavik. The study focuses on how gender, ethnicity and parents’ education, affect young children’s meaning making related to children’s literature and popular culture. This part aimed at shedding light upon how preschool-children used their knowledge of literature and popular
culture in free play, including if and how such knowledge related to their gender, ethnicity and parents’ education, as well as how it affected their social status among their peers. In a broader sense, this part of the study aimed at creating new knowledge regarding how children’s literature and popular culture can serve as resources for preschool teachers who want to emphasise equality and reduce cultural and social discrimination in preschools.
The theoretical framework was driven by Skeggs’ (1997, 2004) work on respectability, which shows how class and gender represent power relations in modern societies; by Palludan’s (2005) work on how preschool children gain respectability in a preschool in Denmark; and on Bourdieu’s (1984) analysis of how cultural factors as lifestyle, i.e. education and taste, affect people’s possibilities to gain respect in different fields.
Palludan’s findings indicate that 4 and 5 year old middle class preschool children are fully conscience of how to act, ask and follow rules to become respectable pre-schoolers, with middle class boys finding it easier than girls to become respectable in the preschool.
In this study the focus was on the children’s peer groups and the role of children’s literature and popular culture in play and if and how literature helped them to gain respectability.
An analysis was undertaken of how children’s knowledge of traditional children’s literature and popular culture was manifested in their conversations, play and creative work at the preschools. Parents’ views of children’s engagement in literature and popular culture at home were surveyed using a questionnaire.
Special analysis was made of the children’s application of embodied knowledge of these genres in free play to understand if and how such knowledge could bring preschool children respectability amongst peers in the preschool.
The discussions rely on a case study, which is the third phase of the abovementioned Ph.D thesis. Fourteen 4–5 year old children were videotaped during playtime, resulting in 40–60 minute video recordings for each child. In addition, two of the children’s teachers were interviewed about the children’s knowledge of literature and popular culture, as well as their estimation of access to such materials at home. The video data was content-analysed in terms of registered confirmations, brush-offs and rejections from peer groups of the fourteen participants on citations from children’s literature and popular culture during play and creative work. The interviews with the two teachers were analysed by traditional qualitative methods.
The children’s home use of literature and popular culture were surveyed through a questionnaire to the parents. The questionnaire contained questions about children’s consumption of literature and popular culture at home and participation in cultural activities.
Nine of the fourteen children participating in the case study brought their home knowledge of literature and popular culture sufficiently well into play to gain enough peer-group confirmation to be evaluated as respectable pre-schoolers.
Two boys gained the highest respectability using their knowledge of Star Wars and superheroes and two girls followed them using their knowledge of Narnia and classical children’s literature. Five children gained moderate respectability.
The other five children did not display such knowledge or skills during the observations and videotaping.
The teachers’ descriptions of the children participating in the case study were congruous with the respectability highlighted in the peer-group confirmations.
Furthermore, they gave these children specific attributions related to their respectability. The findings shed light on how different access to children’s literature and popular culture at home, together with given opportunities to express this knowledge at preschool, can contribute to gender and cultural stereotypes. Girls’ knowledge seemed to be moulded by stereotyped ideas of relationships and femininity, while boys’ knowledge appeared to be based more on ideas of heroism and masculinity, and boys only confirmed other boys’ contributions while the girls confirmed input from both boys and girls.
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