London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Nursery space in shaping the identity of a child: a comparative ethnographic study

Author(s) Nowicka, M. & Śliwa, S.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2014  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Innovative Practice and Research Trends in Identity, Citizenship and Education  
Age group -  
The physical space of a nursery is a very important element in shaping the child's identity. The social functioning of children is being shaped directly by the type and origin of the elements present in kindergarten space, their arrangement, diversity and availability. Pedagogical research on this topic remains scant, especially when it comes to pre-school stage. Background of the research presented in the text refers to the theoretical perspective of the pedagogy of space, which emphasizes the role of the dialectical relationship between man and space in the formation of individual identity and the development of social relations. The analyses also refer to Foucauldian theory of power discourse regarding the arrangement of the interior of the educational institutions. The method of visual ethnography and photographic documentation techniques supported by interviews with teachers of kindergarten were used in the study. The study included 9 kindergartens from Poland, Lithuania and the UK. The basic conclusion that emerges from the analysis of the accumulated body of research indicates that the spatial arrangement of kindergartens in post-communist countries induces/ predisposes to the development of mirror identity operating efficiently under authoritarian rule. This kind of the interior arrangement reflects the conservative tendency to subordinate children and persistently correct their imperfections. Such a situation equals cultural look back, not forward – toward preparing children for a conscious and creative participation in society. Space of English nurseries promotes children's autonomy and self-determination. It seems beneficial to adopt selected solutions from the kindergartens in the West by Polish and Lithuanian ones.

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