On The Practice of Seeing Children: Photographs in Early Childhood

Dr. Tran Nguyen Templeton
Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Studies
University of North Texas

Friday, January 15, 2021 | 12:30 to 2:00 pm (PST) | via Zoom

For Zoom details, please email edcp.educ@ubc.ca

Host: Dr. Harper Keenan


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“Who is the child on whom [early childhood practice] is centered?” posed Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence in 1999, in response to early childhood education’s ‘child-centered’ calling card. Early childhood prides itself on the move away from prescriptive curriculum toward emergent curriculum that responds to young children’s needs, desires, and interests. Yet even within these progressive models, adults may still determine children’s needs, interests, and desires based on our own perspectives and assumptions around who children are and who we wish them to be. This work explores various formulations of the child. I ask, how do we as teachers and researchers come to know and see children? And more importantly, how do children see themselves? Through stories of young children’s (ages 2 to 5) engagements with digital cameras, I discuss children’s renderings of themselves. Taking up an approach of Collaborative Seeing in which the children audience their photographs within different contexts, this work highlights the child as a complex subject who comes into being by way of networked relations with the human and non-human. The children’s images ask us to recalibrate our own notions of childhood as they present and negotiate all the pleasures and banalities of their everyday lives.

Tran Nguyen Templeton, Ed.D. is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Studies at the University of North Texas. She received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2018 with the support of an AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship. Since 2000, Tran has been a teacher in self-contained classrooms, the director of a school for children with disabilities in Guatemala City, and an early childhood teacher. Interested in the production of the child through dominant and critical discourses of childhood, Tran employs ethnographic and visual methods to study children’s co-constructions of their own complex identities in/through photography, play, and literacy practices. She also examines how adults situate young children in relation to critical forms of curriculum.