Intimate interloper: the contextualized life histories of four early childhood educators
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The life histories of this project were collected and (re)presented to answer the following research questions: What are the life histories of three preschool teachers and how do they inform our understanding of teacher knowledge in an early childhood setting? And how does the researcher’s life history add to the discussion of teacher knowledge? The project was executed in three parts using the methodology of life history research (Goodson & Sikes, 2001; Hatch & Wisniewski, 1995b; Plummer, 2001; Tierney, 1999). The first part is a contextualization of “teacher knowledge” as situated in the fields of early childhood education [ECE], curriculum studies and the personal experiences of the researcher (Connelly, Clandinin, & He, 1997; Ellis, 2004; Pinar, 2000; Tobin, 1997). The second part is a narrative created from the life stories of the four teachers, employing a narrative analysis created from the data, gathered through interviews and ethnographic observations, then crafted using tools such as interactive narrators, fractured voices and fractured timelines (Polkinghorne, 1995a). The third is an analysis of these teachers’ practice introduced and “known” through their histories—an attempt to both explicitly bring the researcher’s meaning-making apparatus to bear on the lives of these teachers, as well as trouble the act of making meaning. In the end a particular/multiplicitous “way” of educating is examined. The desires of the teachers are found and categorized through the resistances that they describe in their stories and practices. These include resistance to that which the teachers perceive as “traditional” ECE, to their own assumptions, to the governing bodies of ECE, to the confining descriptors of “appropriate” ECE, to self-regulation, to hegemonic perceptions of knowledge, and to the hegemony of gender performance and perceptions of “childhood.” There is an exploration of the creation of space by the teachers. Implications for curriculum studies, ECE, teacher education and future research are posited, including a reconceptualization of “appropriate” education for young children, a re-examination of self-regulation in teacher practices, and a melding of critical perspectives and pedagogies of hope for educators who can learn from these life histories and from those with whom they share intimate realms.