Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Chang-Kredl, S., Wilkie, G.
What is it like to be a child? Childhood subjectivity and teacher memories as heterotopia
(2016) Curriculum Inquiry, 46 (3), pp. 308-320.

DOI: 10.1080/03626784.2016.1168262

Foucault’s notion of heterotopia offers a novel way to understand teachers’ conceptualizations of childhood, in juxtaposing adult memories of childhood with their present context of teaching children. Memory writing prompts were given to 41 early childhood teachers, and the resulting written narratives were analyzed as heterotopic spaces. The study follows two trajectories. First, in terms of teacher development, we examine how the construct of heterotopia can help teachers and teacher educators understand the impact of memories on their current assumptions about childhood. Second, we argue that examining the teacher’s internal experiences through heterotopia can contribute to theoretical thinking about childhood. The study’s findings suggest that it is a considerable but meaningful challenge to examine our subjective experience of childhood in relation to our understanding of children today. This process may be useful in assisting the teacher to disentangle the imagined, remembered, conceptualized and actual child, and to interrupt our tendencies to project our own experiences onto others. Perhaps, there is a childhood that exists in heterotopic spaces, not quite the subjective or psychical child, but not quite the external child either. This may be the liminal childhood that the early childhood teacher, preoccupied as (s)he is with childhood, experiences. Theorizing teachers’ subjectivities as they are linked to their memories of childhood is a complex endeavour, and Foucault’s heterotopia provides rich images of strange juxtaposition that may be useful in thinking about childhood and teaching. © 2016 the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Author Keywords
Curriculum studies; heterotopia; memory; narrative methods; student and teacher experiences; teacher development

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