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Inside the 'Inclusive' Early Childhood Classroom

The Power of the 'Normal'

by Karen Watson (Author)
Textbook VIII, 212 Pages
Series: Childhood Studies, Volume 5

Summary

Inside the ‘Inclusive’ Childhood Classroom: The Power of the ‘Normal’ offers a critique of current practices and alternative view of inclusion. The rich data created inside three classrooms will challenge those who work in the field, as the children and their performances, previously overlooked, are foreground. Although at times confronting, it is ultimately invaluable reading for classroom teachers, students, academics, and researchers as well as anyone who desires to deepen their understanding of inclusive processes. The inclusion of children with diagnosed special needs in mainstream early childhood classrooms is a policy and practice that has gained universal support in recent decades. Exploring ways to include the diagnosed child has been of interest to inclusive research. Adopting a poststructural perspective, this book interrupts taken for granted assumptions about inclusive processes in the classroom. Attention is drawn to the role played by the undiagnosed children, those positioned as already included. Researching among children, this ethnography interrogates the production of the classroom ‘normal’. As the children negotiate difference, the operations of the ‘normal’ are made visible in their words and actions. In their encounters with the diagnosed Other, they take up practices of tolerance and silence, effecting fear, separation, and a desire to cure. These performances echo practices, presumed abandoned, from centuries past. As a way forward this book urges a rethink of practice-as-usual, as these effects are problematic for inclusion and not sustainable. A greater scrutiny of the ‘normal’ is needed, as the power it exercises, impacts on all children and how they become subjects in the classroom.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Questioning My ‘Truth’ about Inclusion
  • 1 Troubling Inclusion: Policy and Practice
  • 2 Doing Poststructural Ethnography Inside the ‘Inclusive’ Classroom
  • 3 Exploring the Production, Reproduction and Maintenance of the ‘Normal’
  • 4 Exploring the Role of Non-Human Actors in the Production and Maintenance of the ‘Normal’
  • 5 Disrupting Tolerance as a Practice
  • 6 Nuanced Silences and Their Effects
  • 7 Fear, Separation and Asylum-Like Practices
  • 8 Rethinking ‘Inclusive’ Practice: Shifting the Focus
  • Index

Karen Watson

Inside the ‘Inclusive’
Early Childhood Classroom

The Power of the ‘Normal’

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About the author

Karen Watson is Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her more than 30 years of teaching experience in a variety of contexts, including early childhood classrooms and early intervention services, inspired her Ph.D. research on inclusive practice. Awarded her doctorate in 2015, she is interested in how young children actively negotiate difference in their everyday encounters with each other.

About the book

Inside the ‘Inclusive’ Childhood Classroom: The Power of the ‘Normal’ offers a critique of current practices and alternative view of inclusion. The rich data created inside three classrooms will challenge those who work in the field, as the children and their performances, previously overlooked, are foreground. Although at times confronting, it is ultimately invaluable reading for classroom teachers, students, academics, and researchers as well as anyone who desires to deepen their understanding of inclusive processes. The inclusion of children with diagnosed special needs in mainstream early childhood classrooms is a policy and practice that has gained universal support in recent decades. Exploring ways to include the diagnosed child has been of interest to inclusive research. Adopting a poststructural perspective, this book interrupts taken for granted assumptions about inclusive processes in the classroom. Attention is drawn to the role played by the undiagnosed children, those positioned as already included. Researching among children, this ethnography interrogates the production of the classroom ‘normal’. As the children negotiate difference, the operations of the ‘normal’ are made visible in their words and actions. In their encounters with the diagnosed Other, they take up practices of tolerance and silence, effecting fear, separation, and a desire to cure. These performances echo practices, presumed abandoned, from centuries past. As a way forward this book urges a rethink of practice-as-usual, as these effects are problematic for inclusion and not sustainable. A greater scrutiny of the ‘normal’ is needed, as the power it exercises, impacts on all children and how they become subjects in the classroom.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Acknowledgements

I would like to sincerely thank the three early childhood centres, the directors, staff and families who kindly agreed to support this classroom project and allowed me to occupy some space in their classrooms for many weeks. I particularly want to thank the children in the settings who generously shared their ideas with me. I also want to thank all the children I have worked with over many years who I think about often and who have provided me with the passion and the fortitude to complete this project.

I am forever indebted to Zsuzsa Millei and Eva Bendix Petersen for the research and writing support they provided to me in completing the doctoral study that led to this book. Their knowledge, friendship and critical feedback made this work possible. I would also like to thank Gaile Sloane Cannella for giving me the opportunity and encouragement to write this book. Thank you to the Faculty of Education at the University of Newcastle, Australia, for their support and allowing me the time and space to write.

Thank you to my family who have always supported me in my work. To my parents, Ann and Arthur Healy, thank you for your unwavering interest and encouragement. The influence of both the Scannell and Healy families continue to shape me and the work that I do. Thank you to my five children, Sam, Matilda, Oliver, Clementine and Elliot, who have endured my passionate rantings and←vii | viii→ remain my constant inspiration. To my partner in life, Rocket, a huge thank you for listening to my ideas early in the morning, all through the day and often into the night. Thank you for keeping things in perspective. “Don’t forget to smell the roses”.

Portions of this book have been previously published in the following;

Watson, K., Millei, Z., & Petersen, E. B. (2015). ‘Special’ non-human actors in the ‘inclusive’ early childhood classroom: The wrist band, the lock and the scooter board. Global Studies of Childhood, 5(3), 266–278.

Watson, K. (2016). ‘Silences’ in the ‘inclusive’ early childhood classroom: Sustaining a ‘taboo’. In E. B. Petersen & Z. Millei (Eds.), Interrupting the psy-disciplines in education (pp. 13–31). New York, NY & London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Watson, K. (2016). Talking tolerance inside the ‘inclusive’ early childhood classroom. Bank Street Occasional Papers Series 36, Part II. Retrieved from https://www.bankstreet.edu/occasional-paper-series/36/part-ii/talking-tolerance-insixe/←viii | 1→

Details

Pages
VIII, 212
ISBN (PDF)
9781433140372
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433140389
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433140396
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433134333
ISBN (Softcover)
9781433134326
Language
English
Publication date
2017 (May)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. VIII, 212 pp.

Biographical notes

Karen Watson (Author)

Karen Watson is Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her more than 30 years of teaching experience in a variety of contexts, including early childhood classrooms and early intervention services, inspired her PhD research on inclusive practice. Awarded her doctorate in 2015, she is interested in how young children actively negotiate difference in their everyday encounters with each other.

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Title: Inside the 'Inclusive' Early Childhood Classroom