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Re(con)ceiving children in curriculum: Mapping (a) milieu(s) of becoming Margaret Anne Sellers

A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The University of Queensland in May 2009 School of Education

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Declaration by author This thesis is composed of my original work, and contains no material previously published or written by another person except where due reference has been made in the text. I have clearly stated the contribution by others to jointly-authored works that I have included in my thesis. I have clearly stated the contribution of others to my thesis as a whole, including statistical assistance, survey design, data analysis, significant technical procedures, professional editorial advice, and any other original research work used or reported in my thesis. The content of my thesis is the result of work I have carried out since the commencement of my research higher degree candidature and does not include a substantial part of work that has been submitted to qualify for the award of any other degree or diploma in any university or other tertiary institution. I have clearly stated which parts of my thesis, if any, have been submitted to qualify for another award. I acknowledge that an electronic copy of my thesis must be lodged with the University Library and, subject to the General Award Rules of The University of Queensland, immediately made available for research and study in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968. I acknowledge that copyright of all material contained in my thesis resides with the copyright holder(s) of that material. Statement of Contributions to Jointly Authored Works Contained in the Thesis No jointly authored works. Statement of Contributions by Others to the Thesis as a Whole No contributions by others. Statement of Parts of the Thesis Submitted to Qualify for the Award of Another Degree None. Published Works by the Author Incorporated into the Thesis None. Additional Published Works by the Author Relevant to the Thesis but not Forming Part of it Honan, Eileen & Sellers, Marg. (2008). (E)merging methodologies: Putting rhizomes to work. In Inna Semetsky, Nomadic education: Variations on a theme by Deleuze and Guattari. Educational Futures Series (M. Peters, Series Editor), Rotterdam/Taipei: Sense Publishers. Sellers, Marg & Honan, Eileen. (2007). Putting rhizomes to work: (E)merging methodologies, NZRECE, Vol.10. ii


Sellers, Marg. (2007). Monad, nomad: where to with this poststructuralist philosophising? An open letter to Jeanette Rhedding-Jones. Reviewing ‘Monocultural constructs: A transnational reflects on early childhood institutions’ (by Jeanette Rhedding-Jones). Transnational Curriculum Inquiry 4 (2) 2007 pp. 56-59 http://nitinat.library.ubc.ca/ojs/index.php/tci Sellers, Marg. (2007). Book Review, Early Childhood Education: Society and Culture, by Angela Anning, Joy Cullen and Marilyn Fleer, 2004, 226 pages. Transnational Curriculum Inquiry 4 (2) 2007 pp. 65-69 http://nitinat.library.ubc.ca/ojs/index.php/tci Honan, Eileen & Sellers, Marg. (2006). So how does it work? – rhizomatic methodologies, AARE Conference proceedings, Adelaide, November 2006. Sellers, Marg. (2005). Growing a Rhizome: Embodying Early Experiences in Learning. NZRECE, Vol.8, 29-42. Gough, Noel, John Chi-kin Lee, Julianne Moss, Warren Sellers, Marg Sellers and Francisco Sousa. (2004). 'Commentaries and conversations on "Laboured breathing" (Low and Palulis) and "Letter to my sister" (Luo), Transnational Curriculum Inquiry, 1 (1) 2004. http://prophet.library.ubc.ca/index.php/tci/issue/view/7

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Acknowledgements Although generating much of the work of this thesis-assemblage has been a solitary journey there are many who have contributed to its happening. For their love, support and encouragement I offer my heartfelt thanks. That my mother’s educational opportunities were cut short against her will at the end of primary school has urged me on. This doctoral journey is in memory of her. My Dad has always believed in me and I am grateful for this and for his ever-loving support. Warren, my partner in love, life and educational endeavours has been always by my side, sharing ideas in the light of early morning conversations and with me in darker moments. Journeying as nomad~rhizome has been a joy-full experience of bringing our creativity and understandings of philosophy and curriculum together. Constant companions as I sat at my computer have been my children, never further away than a txt, phone call, email or Skype. I thank them all for keeping me in touch with the(ir) world(s) when I was lost in books, papers and my own thoughts. Steadfast in her guidance and support has been my principal supervisor, Eileen Honan, passing over my foibles, forthcoming in advice, critiquing my understandings, never doubting my rhizo journey and always available. My to-ing and fro-ing through the middle has been challenging for us both. Conversations with my associate supervisor, Noel Gough, have been invaluable to my thinking outside the outside milieu(s) I was always already negotiating. Colleagues from Whitireia – Rachel, Janet, Kaye, Belinda, Jayne, Gill, Thomas, Rose, Bella, Le’autuli, Manu and Viv – have expressed enduring interest in my rhizomatic conversations. My appreciation goes to Whitireia Community Polytechnic for study leave in 2008 and to Heather, Kim and Catherine from the library for meeting my frequent interloan requests. Lastly, I extend my gratitude to The University of Queensland School of Education team for their support and hospitality during my times on campus during 2008, and to Terry Evans and his team from Deakin University where I began my candidature. I acknowledge also the financial support from The University of Queensland Research Scholarship awarded to me through 2008-2009.

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Abstract Tradition and convention dichotomises children and curriculum and this is challenged by re(con)ceiving children in curriculum. My study generates ways for thinking differently about children’s complex interrelationships with curriculum by working with the philosophical imaginaries of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. I use an assemblage of imaginaries, namely: rhizome, plateaus, multiplicities, nomad, de~territorialising lines of flight, smooth spaces, becoming, milieu, monad and singularities, all of which disrupt traditional and conventional thought in various ways. Working with children to share their understandings of curriculum, demonstrated in their curricular performativity of becoming~learning, becomes a complex methodological endeavour, which inextricably (rhizomatically) entwines researching and researcher/participants and research. What I call the assemblage of the thesis is thus as much about researching rhizomatically as about young children’s understandings of curriculum and Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries help bring these together. Rhizome and becoming are two imaginaries that feature frequently in the discussion and in the methodology, with plateaus comprising the condition and expression of the ‘thesis’ cum assemblage. However, as plateaus work non-linearly, the conventional notion of a chaptered thesis is rendered sous rature. Hence the thesis-assemblage becomes a milieu of plateaus that can be read in any order, rather than a conventional linear sequence of chapters containing specific sections of the research process. Continuing with generating a milieu (while simultaneously disrupting linearity) both the literature review and rhizoanalysis occur in various plateaus, and the rhizomethodology is played out throughout. Bringing my understanding of Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries of rhizome and becoming into theories about children and childhood and bringing the notion of rhizome together with young children’s curricular performance opens possibilities for conceiving children and curriculum differently, and for receiving these into reconceptualist curricular conversations. A poststructuralist feminist theoretical approach works to destabilise developmental perspectives of children and childhood as well as the adult|child binary, and recognises curriculum as a complex endeavour. The interconnected processes of rhizo inquiry, rhizomatic methodology and rhizoanalysis engage with emerging understandings of researching complexity and further disrupt modernist, arborescent thought. Data for the study were generated in a kindergarten during a two-week period by moving rhizomatically with the activity of children’s play while video recording their games. Mostly I v


operated the camera, with the children preferring to be performers in these spontaneous video plays, but periodically various children took the camera and recorded activity of their choosing, thereby generating another dimension to the data. As and when requested by the children, they watched the videos of themselves at play, with opportunities for replaying sequences and engaging in conversation about their becoming~learning. These review sessions were recorded on a second video camera, contributing to an intensifying multiplicity of data. To continue generating this data multiplicity, I approached the rhizoanalysis in several ways – through conventional transcripts, visual notations and by juxtaposing interactive pieces using the literature, transcriptions from the data and my commentaries. For example: data were juxtaposed with philosophical imaginaries; data from both cameras were read alongside one another; data of the children playing were used to inform the methodology as well as the methodology being used to inform the rhizoanalysis; transcriptions were turned into storyboards and some play episodes were mapped pictorially. Determining conclusions is not the purpose of a rhizomatic research multiplicity. Instead I leave off with thoughts for the reader about ongoing and opening processes of thinking differently around curriculum as (a) milieu(s) of becoming and children as dynamically becoming(s)-child(ren). Rhizomatically, these link to data used to explain map(ping) play(ing), children performing curriculum complexly, children’s expressions of power-fullness and children performing rhizomethodology. These data demonstrate young children’s sophisticated understandings of their doing~learning~living. As well as opening possibilities for adults to understand children’s understandings, the data open possibilities for children’s understandings to inform adult understandings of curriculum, as practiced, theoretical and philosophical, that is, for receiving children into curriculum.

Keywords early childhood, children, reconceptualising curriculum, Deleuze, rhizome, becoming, play, research methodology, power.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classifications (ANZSRC) 220202 History and Philosophy of Education, 60% 130102 Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) 40%

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Map 1: Mapping milieu(s)

Plateau starting pages Plateau contents .............................................................................................................................. iix Preceding echoes~foreshadowing.....................................................................................................1 Reconceiving curriculum~mapping (a) milieu(s) of becoming .........................................................23 Children performing curriculum complexly.......................................................................................47 Rhizo~mapping................................................................................................................................83 Children and childhood ....................................................................................................................93 Play(ing).........................................................................................................................................120 Rhizomatically researching with young children ............................................................................148 Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full .....................................................................................184 Rhizoanalysis.................................................................................................................................201 Children playing rhizo~methodology..............................................................................................216 Aftrwrdng .......................................................................................................................................230 References ....................................................................................................................................238 Appendices ....................................................................................................................................261

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List of Maps, Figures & Storyboards Map 1: Mapping milieu(s) ................................................................................................................ vii Map 2: Negotiating the plateaus through leafing interests................................................................ xi Figure 1: Rhizome~multidimensional, a-centred. ............................................................................11 Figure 2: The Internet, ceaselessly establishes connections. .........................................................11 Figure 3: Freely flowing rhizomatic plateaus and structured linear thinking. ...................................13 Figure 4: Te Whāriki’s woven mat of principles and strands. ..........................................................33 Figure 5: Puawānanga (Aotearoa New Zealand native clematis)....................................................43 Figure 6: Felted fabric as matting – showing tangled threads. ........................................................43 Figure 7: Lines of flight~shifting plateaus of play(ing) segueing through Willy Wonka~monster~ bear~Goldilocks. .......................................................................................................................79 Figure 8: Surfer’s movements superimposed on Stella Nona’s novice steps. ...............................115 Figure 9: Play (movement between) becomes spandrel (spaces between). .................................135 Figure 10: Picturing sphere eversion .............................................................................................136 Figure 11: Responses in the consent booklets of two children......................................................166 Figure 12: Reviewing area showing position of second camera on tripod.....................................176 Figure 13: The scene of the pending confrontation. ......................................................................192 Figure 14: Rhizomatic flows of power-fullness. .............................................................................196 Figure 15: Intersecting lines of flight~mapping (a) curricular milieu(s). .........................................207 Figure 16: Messy map of another possible rhizo-imaginary. .........................................................209 Figure 17: Merging images and text. .............................................................................................211 Figure 18: Arborescent tracing. .....................................................................................................217 Figure 19: Burrow~rhizome produced by crustaceans in the Middle Jurassic period....................217 Figure 20: De~territorialisation always already at on(c)e on the same plateau~plane ..................219 Storyboard 1: Chocolate Factory .....................................................................................................49 Storyboard 2: Monster Game ..........................................................................................................58 Storyboard 3: Goldilocks..................................................................................................................67

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Plateau contents

Plateau contents Introducing the plateaus as they appear in the thesis-assemblage: Preceding echoes is a foreshadowing exercise. It opens with a letter to Marcy, the two year old who was the inspiration for this research. Then follows an explanation of the Deleuzo-Guattarian (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) imaginaries put to work throughout the dissertation. I also present my feminist poststructuralist subjectivity here. Reconceiving curriculum works with literature towards generating a different way of conceiving of curriculum – curriculum as (a) milieu(s) of becoming. Flowing through the conversation, I explore historical philosophies affecting early childhood curriculum, a genealogy of reconceptualising early childhood curriculum, influences of developmental psychology and sociocultural approaches on early childhood curriculum and an unravelling of Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996), the Aotearoa New Zealand national early childhood curriculum statement. Linking to this plateau, are the Children performing curriculum complexly and Rhizo-mapping plateaus. Children performing curriculum complexly presents a complex milieu of children’s curricular performances from the data. It works with a data snippet to foreground how we might receive rhizomatic understandings of children’s curricular performance into adult conceptions of curriculum. This plateau negotiates a chaoplexy of three games unfolding simultaneously in the sandpit, considering them separately and then together. Rhizo~mapping presents mapping as a way of making sense of children’s doing and learning with/in/through their curricular performance. Opening with Deleuzo-Guattarian understandings of mapping, I (re)think children’s map making and their play with maps as rhizomatic performance. I explore snippets of data that illuminate the children’s map(ping) play(ing) towards generating an understanding of curricular milieus. Children and childhood works through historical, essentially modernist, images of children and childhood in the literature and discusses lingering affects of these. Some contemporary poststructuralist subject positionings of children are presented, including affects of these on conceiving their childhood(s). This opens to ‘becoming’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) and the associated imaginary of becoming-child(ren) towards generative ways of conceiving children and childhood. ix


Plateau contents

Play(ing) reviews theoretical understandings of play in the literature and then play-fully presents a poietical juxtaposition for thinking about children’s play. A tripled juxtaposition of a transcription of three children at play, a transcription of these children then (re)viewing the video of their game – a (re)play – and my rhizo-interactive commentary. Rhizomatically researching with young children presents a complexity of methodological and ethical issues, including challenges around child/adult power relations, which manifest in issues of consent and data generation. Researcher responsibility opens to participant-children becoming responsive and response-able. This plateau also maps the nomadic flow of processing through the research. In thinking and working rhizomatically there is a sense that everything is always already happening, that the methodology and analysis intermingle from the research design through writing the thesis-assemblage. Flowing nomadically through the literature, data generation, rhizoanalysis and the writing meant following and generating lines of flight that become the linking machinic or ‘glue’ that draws the assemblage of plateaus together. Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full presents flows of power-fullness surrounding child~participant-adult~researcher relationships within the data. Discussion of the Māori whakamana and Deleuzian and Foucauldian understandings of power relations opens to disrupting the notion of empowerment. The data show that Tim, in his expressions of power-fullness, makes empowerment redundant. Rhizoanalysis is a conversation that introduces the process of the analysis and offers some concluding thoughts about how I processed with/through it. It is about about rhizo-methodology and working (with) the data. The rhizoanalysis is the inquiry of the research and happens through all the plateaus. As with many plateaus, where it sits relative to others is arbitrary; it could just as well be read alongside Preceding echoes as where I have chosen in this moment to locate it pagewise. Children playing rhizo-methodology shows that not only does the methodology inform the data generation, it also shows that the data informs the methodology. In the play(ing) of their game, three girls make perceptible their tacit understandings of nomad~rhizome and how it works. Aftrwrdng~curriculum as (a) milieu(s) of becoming (re)turns to the idea(s) for (re)conceiving children and curriculum through thinking differently, the plateau closing with a second letter to Marcy. x


Plateau contents

The plateaus are written so that they can be read in any order (as explained further in Preceding echoes, p. 7), according to the reader’s interests and in response to lines of flight that emerge in the reading. The following table offers four possibilities, with the suggestion that Preceding echoes be read first (Map 2). However, I invite the reader to choose her/his own pathway, one that resonates with personal interests as they are now and as they arise in the reading.

Understanding Children & Childhood

Curriculum

Preceding echoes

o

Children & childhood

o

o

Reconceiving curriculum

o

Play(ing)

Children performing curriculum complexly

o

Children performing curriculum complexly

o

Preceding echoes

o

Rhizo~mapping

o

Rhizomatically researching with young children

o

o

Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full

o o

o

Reconceiving curriculum

Rhizomatically researching with young children

o

Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full

o

Rhizoanalysis

o

Rhizoanalysis

o

o Aftrwrdng

o Aftrwrdng

Research Methodology

The thesis-assemblage as presented

Preceding echoes

o

o

o

Children performing curriculum complexly o

Play(ing)

o

o

Aftrwrdng

Children & childhood o

o

Play(ing)

Rhizomatically researching with young children Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full

o

Children & childhood Reconceiving curriculum

Rhizo~mapping

o

Rhizo~mapping

Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full

o

Children performing curriculum complexly

o

Rhizoanalysis

o

o

Reconceiving curriculum

o

Children playing rhizo~methodology o

Preceding echoes

o

Rhizomatically researching with young children o

Children & childhood

o

Rhizo~mapping

o

o

Children playing rhizo~methodology

Children playing rhizo~methodology o

Play(ing)

Rhizoanalysis

o o

Children playing rhizo~methodology o

Aftrwrdng

Map 2: Negotiating the plateaus through leading interests.

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Preceding echoes~foreshadowing

Preceding echoes~foreshadowing

starting up the rhizome with foreshadowing ideas This is not a conventional introduction that spells out exactly what this dissertation is about. It is merely a recording of a dynamically changing mass of Preceding echoes that segue into the Aftrwrdng. In starting up the rhizome that has become this thesis-assemblage, my endeavour was to understand more of young children’s conceptions of curriculum through something of a reconceptualising exercise. But very early on, I realised that mine was a reconceiving endeavour, which suggests more of the ongoing processes of rethinking curriculum than arriving at thoughts that may be constituted as reconceptualist. Although aware that curriculum means different things to different people involving traditional discourses around the what, how and why, my interest was more with, so what? how come? and what if? from/with/in understandings of curriculum as processing, as a lived experience of currere, as always already becoming. My understanding is that curriculum processes around us. Rather than make it happen, we put it to work, or work it, as curriculum-ing. As I regard young children’s understandings of the world as no less significant than those of adults, my approach needs to receive children, their childhoods and their understandings into adult conceptions of curriculum. Thus the venture of re(con)ceiving children in curriculum becomes an adventure, a play-full exploration that works with young children’s curricular performance as expressed through/with/in play and their playing, in their play(ing). And, the thesis-assemblage becomes a(n) (ad)venture involving playing around/with the literature, both play-fully and in the sense of play as imperceptible, rapid oscillation. Play in both these understandings belies linear progression, hence my ‘need’ for plateaus and not chapters and sections. Eventually I learn to play with the literature, as in the Play(ing) plateau. Play(ing) with the methodology comes easier as poststructuralist thinking opens (to) possibilities1 in its deconstructing project of disturbing the rationale of modernist thought. Data generation was a play-full adventure with the children in one kindergarten; the rhizoanalysis became more and more adventurous and play-full as I processed through the data and the writing of the thesis-assemblage, in some moments working with poietic inscriptions of ideas and style. 1

Throughout the plateaus I use the expression ‘opens (to) possibilities’ to suggest that I am opening to possibilities and that there are possibilities to be engaged with.

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Preceding echoes~foreshadowing

Curriculum as (a) milieu(s) of becoming appeared from/with/in shadows of my thinking and working with re(con)ceiving children in curriculum became a play-full (ad)venture with/of becoming. Writing these introductory ideas – introducing Preceding echoes – is also a less serious venture than modernist realms necessitate of me, but in my poststructuralist musing, I discover that this ‘introduction’ also becomes an after-wording exercise of concluding thoughts as I explain some of the processes negotiated. As I contest that thought~thinking2 is linearly ordered and exacted through sequential steps and stages –neither linear progress nor construct – to write an introduction that is as ‘valid’ at the ending as it was at the beginning is a concretising task. This thesisassemblage has resisted concretising all the way through, it has slipped and slid, continually tipping traditional thought and thinking off balance, creating an a-order and (dis)harmony of chaos and complexity. So now as I come to (re)organise my introduction, it wants to be nothing like it was at the commencement of my doctoral journey, or even in the middle. The introduction ‘itself’ has become a changing mass of ideas that can only be recorded as part of the ever-changing (ad)venture. There are, however, questions that were useful throughout. The most important of these being, how do Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries work with understandings of curriculum and with children’s curricular performance? Other significant questions that have morphed through various permutations are: How do children perform curriculum? How does children’s curricular performance contribute to reconceiving curriculum? So, within spaces of the rhizome of this thesis-assemblage, the introduction also becomes the conclusion – ‘becomes’ as in both developing into and enhancing. And, foreword becomes introducing ideas become concluding thoughts become after wording thinking becomes Aftrwrdng; and, txt-ese becomes useful for suggesting a different (in)complete assemblage that this ‘thesis’ has become. I now pause within these beginning introductory ideas to present the thesis-assemblage, not to write it, as that has now happened…flowing from this pause with writing~reading the thesisassemblage is more milieu as introductory ideas become the Aftrwrdng of the ending… Note: Referred to in the following letter for Marcy is, Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996), the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood national curriculum statement.

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Words joined with a tilde are used throughout to signal conditions that always already co-exist.

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Preceding echoes~foreshadowing

before beginning~a letter for Marcy Dear Marcy It has taken nearly five and a half years to write this letter, to bring together the thoughts and thinking of ideas and inspiration, perceptions and conceptions, visions and suspicions, suggestions and intentions, images and imaginings, words and pictures, reading and writing, consciously and unconsciously in a way that befits my memory of you. The day I met you, you became every child in every early childhood setting everywhere; in my mind’s eye, you became the children of many world(s), due unconditional respect from adult worlds. Working with/in western understandings – I can do no other as this is my heritage, my subjectivity – you became a ‘severalty’ of children that I wish to embody within incipiently different approaches to curriculum, to living~learning and learning~living. You continue to inspire me to think how I might think differently about children, childhood and curriculum and how I might think differently about thinking (differently). You will be over seven years old now and it’s hard to imagine that you were not yet three when our paths crossed, our lines of flight criss-crossing through the milieu(s) of our learning. As I write this, to assure myself you were that young~old, I (re)turn to my research journal. In August 2003, I wrote about your alerting me to the powerlessness of infants, toddlers and young children in some early childhood settings to eat, sleep or play when and how they want; also about the beginnings of a reconceiving of curriculum towards receiving young children’s understandings of themselves and the world(s) around them. It was these thoughts about how you were (mis)understood by your teachers that opened me to re(con)ceiving children in curriculum as my PhD (ad)venture. Research journal, August 2003: Today Foucault likely turned in his grave. Foucault deconstructed surveillance, among other aspects of power, by analysing the relationship between discipline and punishment in prisons. Prisoners are watched over relentlessly; surveillance is everywhere, limitless, oppressive. While such disciplinary surveillance is an overt form of power, Foucault maintains that the notion of self-discipline, as promoted within the individualism of psychology, is a covert form of surveillance invented by bourgeois society to ensure and maintain cohesion. We have developed an individualised form of power exercised through the surveillance of individuals by themselves in such a way that they develop selfdiscipline – effectively we are then governed from within. Valerie Walkerdine (1992) relates such discipline and surveillance to schooling, in that the child becomes the object of psychological theory and pedagogic practice, ‘surveilled’ by teachers, themselves responding to the same threat from above. Even when play is considered to be a child’s work, the child is under the watchful and total gaze of the teacher, who is held responsible for the development of each individual. ‘The teacher is there to help, to enable, to

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Preceding echoes~foreshadowing

facilitate. Only those children with a poor grasp of reality, those poor pathological children, see her power’ (p. 20). Not knowing the pin to open the entrance door, I waited to be admitted into the custom built, privately owned early learning centre where you were – there was no one in sight, but at the push of a button the manager appeared. It felt like a corporate office and a prison, spacious with large grand managerial desk, designer reception and staff areas leading into a wide corridor that tracked through the building, giving views through large, well-appointed internal windows of all areas where the children were cared for and played. Surveillance abounded, of both staff and children; even the cook was exposed to the view of passers-by. These were open plan spaces with (in)distinct boundaries that allowed (un)restricted flow from one area to another of children and teachers. I sensed something of the ‘reality’ of Foucault’s notions of discipline and control, particularly of surveillance, and sensed Walkerdine’s assessment of what this means for teaching practice and children’s learning. Walking into a room of under threes seated at two large round tables, I saw the children seemingly ‘listening’ to a story but apparently disengaged from the reading, the reader, and the surroundings. You were doing a puzzle at another table and, as was soon to become apparent, you exemplified Walkerdine’s facetious elaboration of a poor pathological child. You might have been listening to the story being read as you worked on the puzzle, but that was not an issue. In your resistance to join the group, you were labelled ‘a problem’ and ‘disruptive.’ But, I couldn’t help wondering if, in your poor grasp of reality, you were the (only) one who recognised the power and control you and your peers were subject to, that you were the one who appreciated your surroundings as oppressing you as a person and your learning, learning that was meaningful to your ‘under three’ year old understanding of what you desired to know. Although I think of this as your story, Marcy, it is not a story you actually told me, rather it is my storying of your way of connecting with the world in the short time I was part of that. As alluded to above, when I was ushered into your secured, (in)secure world, it was like entering Foucault’s vision of panopticon. In the under threes’ room, I saw a group of children seated around a large round table waiting for a story to be read before morning-tea. The teacher overseeing the group was finding it difficult to sustain the children’s interest in the book. Admittedly my arrival was a distraction, but none of the children were seated for easy engagement with the teacher or the book, and I suspect that the food smells wafting from the kitchen were focusing their attention on food and eating, not on books and reading. Your attention was definitely elsewhere. Unnoticed by the teachers, you were engrossed in doing a puzzle, but once spotted you were ordered to join the group. Unsurprisingly, you refused despite further commands. By now, I was sitting on a small chair nearby and, before I could anticipate your next move, you hurtled across the room and

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Preceding echoes~foreshadowing

planted yourself on my knee. Without thinking, I put my arms around you and you settled into listening to the story. For a moment, it seemed that the problem had been resolved. You were complying – you had abandoned the puzzle and had implicitly agreed to come and listen to the story. But in the same moment, I realised that your terms of compliance were unacceptable, that you were required to sit at the table. I also realised in that moment that I was complicit in your resistance, in your preferred way of listening to the story and in what was later referred to as your disruptive behaviour. As I gently lifted you to the floor, my heart sank. Your expression of engaging with curriculum, your curricular performance, were denied by the teachers and I was now party to that. The puzzle was not to be completed; the chair at the table took precedence over the knee. It was not so much ‘dis-empowerment’ that you experienced, but that the flow of your power-fullness was quashed; Foucault’s notions of power as force, as affect, through institutions of control and surveillance were illuminated. The implications for you and your learning were projected irrevocably and indelibly onto the screen of my understanding. Although I had only just happened upon the situation, knew nothing of you and little of the context, as an outsider~observer, it appeared that you were resisting co-operating with a more powerful adult regime and, despite signalling a level of compliance by jumping onto my knee, your attempt to compromise was deemed unacceptable. The teachers might have justified their teaching practice by pointing to prescribed learning outcomes outlined for you, aligned to Te Whāriki principles and strands. Yet, I suspect your reading of Te Whāriki might be different, perhaps one of affirming your expression of what curriculum meant for you, enabling your flows of power-fullness and privileging your desires as a young human being to be heard, respected, understood and valued. With this last thought, I close this long-overdue letter of acknowledgment and appreciation, knowing that you may never read it, but, recorded in the annals of educational research, it may contribute to (an) opening (of) early childhood curricular worlds authentically respectful of young children elsewhere. I am ever hopeful that it will kindle some interest in opening (to) ways of thinking, incipiently different from the dominating ways that have got us thus far in early childhood education, curriculum, education and the world at large. I am hopeful that my PhD (ad)venture will become a way of opening (to) de~territorialising early childhood curricular spaces, through/with/in understandings of young children, such as yours, Marcy, can flourish. It is for you, Marcy, and young children of other worlds, that I would risk these spaces. With respect always,

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Preceding echoes~foreshadowing

P.S. Marcy, the thesis-assemblage that follows is but a postscript to this letter and although the language may not be yours, I trust the sentiments expressed therein make your heart sing.

beginning~a note for the reader Nothing ever ‘begins,’ it only has tentative links to what has gone before and what is yet to come – threads (e)merging from/with/in heterogeneous space-times of past~present~future in mo(ve)ments of middles. Uncertainly, the middle of this thesis is a processing through questions-withoutanswers, any pending ‘answer’ embodying another question, signalling partiality, decentring expert authority, speeding up the intensity. And, an ‘ending’ is but a momentary pause of speed, ebbing only until the flow again picks up speed, back/through/in/to the middle…(sigh)…so (deep breath) how, where do I start with my desire to generate mo(ve)ments towards conceiving of early childhood curriculum that welcomes young children as young people with views, opinions and understandings that are regarded as significant as those of adults to generating curricular performances authentic to the worlds children live~learn with/in and to social, ethical, political operations of wider worlds? This big question becomes a big picture in a never beginning~ending middle of ideas, difficult to negotiate, or so it seems. Yet, it seems I am not alone in this muddling~middling quest that has no specific start point. Quoting Kafka, Deleuze and Guattari (1987) explain: ‘Those things which occur to me, occur to me not from the root up but rather only from somewhere about their middle. Let someone then attempt to seize them, let someone attempt to seize a blade of grass and hold fast to it when it begins to grow only from the middle’ (p. 23). But, they continue, ‘Why is this so difficult?’ (p. 23). They go on to say that it is only a matter of perception: ‘It’s not easy to see things in the middle, rather than looking down on them from above or up at them from below, or from left to right or right to left: try it, you’ll see that everything changes’ (p. 23). So, I try it, I just try negotiating the middle, from anywhere…I start with foreshadowing ideas in preceding echoes and it becomes something of a never-ending story…as the aftrwrdng tells…

preceding echoes~foreshadowing the thesis~assemblage The (ad)venture of this research is in bringing Deleuzian philosophy together with conventional images of young children and their childhood(s) and their performance of curricular understandings towards generating a web of connections that celebrate generative thinking. In bringing DeleuzoGuattarian philosophical imaginaries, often referred to as figurations, to the research and simultaneously working to understand how these work, this thesis moves outside a conventional, chaptered dissertation. Throughout the thinking, reading, writing and carrying out of the research, a 6


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variety of imaginaries is used to perturb linearity towards generating an assemblage, a collection of conversations about connecting ideas presented as plateaus that have neither beginning nor end, origin or destination. Like rhizome, an assemblage is heterogenous, is always in the middle, unconcerned with points, made only of lines of movement and speed (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). From these opening moments, thesis is thus sous rature, the assemblage being comprised not of sequential chapters, but of plateaus to be read in any order. Explaining how the thesis-assemblage works, in terms of its expression (presentation and form of the document) and the content addressed, reflects Deleuze’s (1995) interest in inquiry being functional or practical – ‘how something works’ (p. 21). This (opening) plateau of Preceding echoes discusses how to go about reading the plateaus comprising the thesis-assemblage, my use of Deleuzian imaginaries and my subjectivity and its affects on the research. As to the reading of the plateaus of thesis-assemblage, Map 2 (see p. xii) provides an overview of possible readings according to leading interests, namely: conceptions of children and childhood; philosophy of curriculum; or, research methodology. A fourth reading is as the plateaus are presented. Familiarity with Deleuzian philosophy may further influence the reading otherwise. In saying this, I am not claiming familiarity with Deleuze’s entire body of work; rather, I work with imaginaries that inspire me to think differently, to think outside modernist logic and reason about learning, living and the world. The fourth option of reading the thesis-assemblage is my preferred option at the time of submission – in other moments the ordering maybe different. My choice of presenting the plateaus follows my line(s) of flight through the research processes and the project itself. While there was an opening line of flight, processing with/through the writing was not linearly straightforward, rather, it involved much to-ing and fro-ing in many directions, often all-atonce, as I (re)turned to (re)work various pieces, expressions and characterisations. The mapping of the milieu(s) – the plateau map – became a way of my linking the plateaus…and…a map to show the assemblage to the reader. Although linking the plateaus is arbitrary, my choice of presentation is intended to illuminate particular characteristics of the connections. For example, in my reading of the data the children’s curricular performance of their games demonstrates their understandings of curriculum and also links with their mapping of their play(ing) of these games. Hence, Reconceiving curriculum is followed by Children performing curriculum complexly and Rhizo~mapping. I note that explaining the rhizoanalysis of this thesis-assemblage may have been useful to the reading earlier on, but as it took the writing of the other plateaus for me to articulate how I was making the rhizoanalysis work, I have assumed a more meaningful reading similarly emerges later in the assemblage, hence my presenting the Rhizoanalysis plateau towards the end. 7


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Children playing rhizo~methodology appears in a later moment of the thesis-assemblage as a way of foregrounding the children’s always already, tacit understandings of what this research project set out to explore and as a way of communicating that what I was interested in researching the children were (already) doing with/in their curricular performance. This plateau demonstrates not so much what young children know but how much we can learn from them and is positioned to acknowledge the significance of what they have to tell of curriculum and research. The Aftrwrdng is but a summary of that which the children so lucidly demonstrate with/in the data and is there to satisfy thesis-writing expectations. In some ways I would have rather left the reader with the images, imagining and imagery displayed by the children in their tacit, but working, understandings of Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries. Although I prefer the presentation of this fourth option, following lines of flight that rise up in moments of reading is appropriate to any reading by any reader. When Deleuze (1995) is asked, ‘So how are your Thousand Plateaus arranged?’ he replies, ‘It’s like a set of split rings. You can fit any one of them into any other. Each ring, or each plateau, ought to have its own climate, its own tone or timbre’ (p. 25). The (ad)venture has been to make all these plateaus work singularly and together, acknowledging a refrain of ideas risks repetition, although as circles of convergence each (re)connecting is in different space-times of thinking and brings with it other concepts interrupted, such ‘repetition’ opens (to) other understandings.

introducing imaginaries In presenting Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophical concepts as imaginaries, I move outside the notion of metaphor, a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is transferred to an object or action so that something is regarded as representative, suggestive or symbolic of something else. Deleuze and Guattari (1994) explicate a concept as a multiplicity, having several components inseparable within it. It is irregularly contoured in such a way that it is (only ever) a fragmentary whole: ‘Only in this condition can it escape the mental chaos constantly threatening it, stalking it, trying to reabsorb it’ (p. 16). This concept is fluid, always already relating to other concepts, partially overlapping in ‘a threshold of indiscernibility’ (p. 19), each resonating singularly and together as ‘centres of vibrations’ (p. 23). It is this non-totalising movement that resists metaphorical representation. In response to the Deleuzo-Guattarian project of thinking differently – to ‘think reality outside of representation’ (Due, 2007, p. 9) – I refer to Deleuze’s (1994) notion of the ‘image of thought’, in which philosophy emerges from an image of what it is to think, of what we do with/in thinking and what thinking does. ‘Imaginary’, as a concept per se, then becomes a way of working (with) 8


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complex thinking, different from the common understanding of ‘imaginary’ existing in the imaginative mind’s ability to be creative, inventive and resourceful. This understanding of (a Deleuzian) imaginary also differs from the Lacanian psychoanalytical imaginary, which, as a function of being, ‘is found wherever we are deceived into believing that the word has become identical with what it represents’ (Clark, 2004, p. ¶ 2). Warren Sellers (2008) explains his use of imaginary as a ‘characterising affect rather than a mental image referencing some thing, situation or circumstance’ (p. 8), ‘to avoid leaving any totalised major construct in mind’ (p. 269). He perceives rhizome as imaginary, rather than metaphor or traditional trope, as it is impossible to ‘seize’ rhizome as an entity – ‘any attempt to represent it as such fails as soon as it is tried’ (p. 206). So that ‘rhizome as imaginary in thinking’, in its conceptual inseparability simultaneously also conceived as ‘imaginary as rhizome’, works to ‘reveal notions of understandings that are not otherwise conceivable’ (p. 206). To illuminate that which may be unthinkable in a representational mode, Braidotti and St.Pierre work to avoid metaphorical thinking in relation to Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophical concepts, and talk instead of figurations. Although there is slippage here into an emblematic or allegorical symbolism, Braidotti (2000) also resists the notion of metaphor and instead uses the term ‘figuration’ to characterise a ‘conceptually charged use of the imagination’ (p. 170) for thinking differently. St.Pierre similarly works with Deleuzian ‘figurations’ as a way of thinking outside a familiar use of language, as a way of opening (to) different questions that might affect understandings of educational theory and practice. St.Pierre (1997a) says: A figuration is not a graceful metaphor that provides coherency and unity to contradiction and disjunction; rather, it is a “politically informed map” (Braidotti, 1994c, p. 181), a cartographic weapon, that charts a “line of flight” (Deleuze & Parnet, 1987, p. 125) into turbulence masked by the simulacrum called coherence. A figuration is no protection from disorder, since its aim is to produce a most rigorous confusion as it jettisons clarity in favour of the unintelligible…Thinking with a figuration is “living at a higher degree, at a faster pace, in a multidirectional manner” (Braidotti, 1994c, p. 167). Thinking with a figuration may also lead to a seeming impasse where the desire to understand what is “really going on” must be sacrificed, and the researcher must learn not to balk at the task of working bewilderment for all it’s worth. (St.Pierre, 1997a, pp. 280-81) Not understood as pure imagination opposed to reason or as fantasy, imaginaries (figurations) function in spaces of transitions and transactions, as unstable and contingent, opening (to) possibilities for creating a different kind of work and for thinking and writing differently; of 9


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‘explor[ing] possibilities immobilized for so long by [modernist] fixities’ (St.Pierre, 1997a, p. 281). The imaginaries presented by Deleuze and Guattari (1987) that I open with here – rhizome, plateaus and assemblage~multiplicity – together in their complex relationships explain the expression and the content of the thesis-assemblage; and, when necessary to the conversation, these imaginaries (as rhizomatic operations) are further explicated throughout. Alongside these, the imaginary of nomad informs and performs the process of the research and its writing, intermingling with de~territorialising lines of flight and smooth spaces. Others, such as milieu, becoming, singularities, and monad are introduced into the discussion throughout in the moments they are put to use. To avoid overly fracturing the discussion, some are merely footnoted in passing. In using these imaginaries, I do not prefer any one as central, rather I present them as working together with/in complex arrangements that vary in different moments, with explanations of one drawing on/in others, often not yet explained. Various researchers (and readers), consider one or another to be of leading significance to their reading, writing, research methodology and emerging understandings of the moment. For example, for Stagoll (2005), difference and becoming are key; for Boundas (2005), ‘intensity is a key notion’ (p. 131); Braidotti (1994a) claims rhizome is the leading figuration, although later says the central figuration is ‘a general becoming-minority, or becoming-nomad, or becoming-molecular’ (Braidotti, 2001, p. 392). As Colebrook (2005) says: ‘Each definition of each term is a different path from a text, a different production of sense that itself opens further paths for definition’ (p. 3). Thus, the order in which I present my understandings of imaginaries I use, relates to my (e)merging understandings of how they work and how I put them to work in this thesis-assemblage. Working with/in a middle~muddle of rhizome, it does not much matter which one I open with, so I have chosen the one that first caught my attention.

rhizome Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) rhizomatic approach to thinking~reading~writing perturbs conventional order/ing, sequencing, categorising and linearity, including that represented in/by the (metaphorical) tree of knowledge. The arborescent thinking of the tree of knowledge utilises concepts of branches and roots through which we ‘receive’ knowledge from the past, develop it within the present and pass its fruits on to future generations. Such arborescence supports binary logic, representing linearly ordered systems of thinking (Alvermann, 2000), which are fixed and rooted so that what is beneath the surface mirrors what is above. Although there is opportunity for thought to divert and digress, it happens genealogically, through ‘a logic of tracing and reproduction’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 12). Tracing involves continuous repetitions of structural patterns already present, and reproduction is the continuous reconstitution of the closed structure or fixed entity. Both tracing and reproduction produce more of the same by following a 10


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sequentially ordered process through links between points and positions that are restricted to a particular place, reaching conventionally logical and coherent conclusions.

Figure 1: Rhizome~multidimensional, a-centred. (Drawing by Warren Sellers)

Figure 2: The Internet, ceaselessly establishes connections. (Source: http://research.lumeta.com/ches/map/gallery/isp-ss.gif)

In contrast, heterogeneous connectivity characterises the complexity of a rhizome, rhizomatic thinking and research methodologies, such as rhizoanalysis. A rhizome is comprised of ceaseless interrelational movements – flows of connections – among numerous possible assemblies involving both the disparate and the similar. Etymologically, rhizo- means ‘combining’ and in botanical terms a rhizome is a prostrate or subterranean root-like stem, which assumes diverse forms, from multidirectional surface extensions (kikuyu grass) to thick, swollen tuber-like masses (iris, root ginger). Because the botanical rhizome moves horizontally and expands multi-dimensionally, its points of regrowth, its shoots and roots, are chaotically a-centred, taking on a complex existence, as it spreads outwards (extending), inwards (expanding), upwards (shoots), downwards (roots) (Figure 1). In terms of thought and thinking, the Deleuzian rhizome maps processes that are ‘networked, relational and transversal’ (Colman, 2005b, p. 231). A rhizome familiar in abstract or virtual terms, but also ‘real’ and actual is the Internet (Figure 2). Together, these two images illuminate the complexity involved in working rhizomatically. They open (to) a chaotic or differently-ordered approach to thinking, writing and analysing research data, for example, as thoughts and ideas shift, (re)turn, (re)form (unlikely) connections, move in unexpected directions, perform surprises. ‘A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo… proceeding from the middle, through the middle, 11


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coming and going rather than starting and finishing’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 25). Simply put, ‘the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, “and…and…and…”’ (p. 25); ‘a rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines’ (p. 9). Ants are an animal rhizome that defies being rid of – the rhizome collapses momentarily, perpetually ‘prolonging itself, breaking off and starting up again’ (p. 20); any part of a rhizome may be connected to any other. Thinking rhizomatically thus opens (to) endless possibilities for approaching any thought, activity or concept, towards generating and assembling many and various ways of being and operating in the world. However, diverging from the conventional and familiar is challenging for reader and writer as rhizo-thought is concerned with flow and movement rather than with fixed endpoints or stable, specific conclusions. What matters to generating plateaus in this thesis-assemblage is the inbetween-ness of flow and movement, rather than the points of connection or their positions of location. Recording this somewhat elusive flow calls on an amassing of open(ing) imaginaries, which in themselves, defy discrete explanations; how they are understood is very much the reader’s prerogative. Deleuze and Guattari avoid assigning any one meaning to their imaginaries, preferring they ‘reverberate’ through ‘shifting contexts in which they are put to use’ (Lorraine, 2005, p. 207), thereby characterising non-totalising fragmentary wholes. Final definitions are beyond reach; expressing possibilities for future uses is what matters, such as: ‘What new thoughts does it make it possible to think? What new emotions does it make it possible to feel? What new sensations and perceptions does it open to the body?’ (Massumi, 1987b, p. xv). Thinking and writing rhizomatically is, and performs, an open system that is ceaselessly converging and diverging as thoughts continue to simultaneously emerge and merge, or (e)merge. For example, writing as a method of inquiry (Richardson, 2000b) or travelling as nomad, ‘in the thinking that writing produces in search of the field’ (St.Pierre, 2000b, p. 258). In this nomadic~rhizomatic way I negotiate my writing and processing3 of this thesis-assemblage. A rhizomatic approach to my writing, thinking and academic inquiry involves other DeleuzoGuattarian imaginaries and explaining plateaus comes next. Plateaus disturb, disrupt, decentre, disperse, destabilise, and dispense with the linearity of conventional academic writing. Cognisant of the interplay among imaginaries, rhizomes generate plateaus, rhizomes and simultaneously plateaus work rhizomatically. Generating plateaus becomes an endeavour of intensities.

3

Processing, as in to go along or through. In working generatively, processing is more appropriate to the thesisassemblage than progressing, which communicates linearly additive forward movement and advancement.

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plateaus Deleuze and Guattari use Bateson’s expression of ‘plateau’ as a ‘continuous, self-vibrating region of intensities’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 22) constituted so as not to develop any external end or final climax (p. 158), rather, ‘a plateau is reached when circumstances combine to bring an activity to a pitch of intensity that is not automatically dissipated in a climax’ (Massumi, 1987a, p. xiv). Deleuze and Guattari (1987) describe plateaus as ‘any multiplicity connected to other multiplicities by superficial underground stems’ (p. 22), through connections that ‘defy the imposition of external constraints’ (Lorraine, 2005, p. 207) and intensify the rhizome. As with rhizome, plateaus are always in the middle of intensities.4 Plateaus are open systems comprised of dynamic spaces in flux, of in-between-ness – intermezzo – with/in which numerous possible pathways and connections (may) exist and (may) be explored. Marc Ngui (2005), in his exceptional visualisations of passages from A Thousand Plateaus, depicts (Figure 3) how freely flowing plateaus (green ovals) work in contrast to structured linear thinking and writing (brown boxes).

Figure 3: Freely flowing rhizomatic plateaus and structured linear thinking. (Drawing by Marc Ngui, 2005)

Working rhizomatically or writing with/in plateaus means being always already processing through middles, blurring any possible bounding of (the) continuously (e)merging plateau(s). This disturbs any sense of culmination or end point; as rhizome, a plateau is never a complete or definitive entity. Plateaus are never wholly formed, they are recursively (re)constitutive so that we can only ever talk about some of a rhizome or some of a plateau (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 9) – (a) rhizome is 4

Intensities do not work additively with the multiple, rather, working multi-dimensionally, they generate a multiplicity, whereby many ‘intensities catalyse the actualisation of the virtual, generating extension, linear, successive time, extended bodies and their qualities’ (Boundas, 2005, p. 132).

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made of plateaus is made of (a) rhizome is made of plateaus… spreading multi-directionally, intensifying multi-dimensionally. Thus, being always in the middle, amidst everything, generating and generated by circles of convergence, ‘[e]ach plateau can be read starting anywhere and can be related to any other plateau’ (p. 22). There is an always already connecting or forming of linkages towards creating something unpredictably and incipiently different. A(nother) plateau emerges when connections outside of external constraints are put into play, these plateaus becoming intensities that reverberate according to their unfolding, not determined by conventional boundaries (Lorraine, 2005). In this thesis-assemblage, although plateaus do not have to be read in any particular order, as each one works as a reflection of the fragmentary whole assemblage, the reading is likely eased by first engaging with this plateau that explicates the opening imaginaries, through/with/in which I expect some budding ideas will unfold. Creating an assemblage, as a gathering of plateaus rather than a series of linearly ordered chapters, opens (to) an (e)merging of such possibilities and (to) spaces for their becoming. Plateaus become both expression and content. Becoming-plateaus becomingassemblage; this assemblage of plateaus becomes the thesis-assemblage becomes (an) assemblage(s) of plateaus… An aside: As noted above, discussing any one imaginary involves others. ‘Becoming’ for Deleuze and Guattari (1987) in not about serial progression or regression; it is about and is rhizome, producing nothing other than itself (pp. 238-39); plateaus are intensities of becoming. Semetsky (2006) describes becoming as dynamic processes through/with/in which an assemblage ‘changes in nature as it expands its connections’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 8). Becoming is thus characterised by the production of events, in which every instant is unique ‘in a continual flow of changes…in an ongoing cycle of production…For Deleuze, the present is merely the productive moment of becoming’ (Stagoll, 2005, pp. 21-22). Becoming ‘should [thus] be qualified’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 238), such as in becoming-child, becoming-world, becoming-imperceptible or becoming-assemblage. This is elaborated in the children and childhood plateau. Deleuze and Guattari (1987) explain their writing as a circular exercise, in that lines were written as seemed appropriate to a heterogenous space~time block of ‘coexistence and succession’ (p. 329); not in a prescribed linear progression, but within fluid temporal and spatial moments. Following a flow of ideas meant moving freely in their thinking from one space~time~plateau to any other, processing without concern for completing the discussion in one space before moving to another, 14


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making circles of convergence so that reading the plateaus can start anywhere and be linked to other plateaus at will – the plateaus are be(com)ing and (re)constituting and forming an assemblage, making connections between various multiplicities. Assemblage, already mentioned, now appears for explication, along with multiplicity. As assemblage and multiplicity seem inextricably intertwined, so I discuss them together.

assembling multiplicities~multiplicitous assemblages For Deleuze and Guattari (1987), a multiplicity is not a multiple entity of discrete parts; it is ‘not a collection of units that remain the same’ (Colebrook, 2002, p. 59). Rather, multiplicities involve continuous multi-dimensional expansion, generating and bringing together an infinite variety of thoughts, thinking and ideas, many times over. An assemblage can then be considered as the increasing dimensionality of a multiplicity (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987), any assemblage generated from/through its connections with/in a multiplicity (Colebrook, 2002). In the moment a multiplicity emerges, it simultaneously irrupts into a web of proliferating fissures, which converge in (another) space (Massumi, 1992). Multiplicities are rhizomatic, multi-dimensional intensities, which are always-already changing. An assemblage is then characterised as multi-dimensional movement, a multiplicity changing as it attracts and repulses connections with other multiplicities, changing and altering through lines of flight and deterritorialisation (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, pp. 8-9). Understanding multiplicity depends on its workings and by various movements through it, cutting across and carrying it away, opening to other assemblages. It is territory and its connections that make the assemblage, with connections constituted by lines of deterritorialisation, opening the territorial assemblage onto other assemblages (pp. 504-05). The thesis-assemblage becomes an assemblage through heterogeneous processes of connectivity and interactivity, changing in nature as linkages expand, working towards creating an ever growing fragmentary whole (Colebrook, 2002). This assemblage works with re(con)ceiving young children’s curricular performance (in one early childhood setting) in curriculum. The assemblage includes variously overlapping plateaus, which will merge differently for different readers in different readings. The plateaus include discussions of: (Re)conceiving curriculum, children’s curricular performance, images of children and childhood, play(ing), discourses of power and feminist~poststructuralist research, researching with children and rhizomatic research. Intermingling throughout are connections to the literature, data and rhizo-methodology. So while any plateau generates an assemblage as it works to bring together various fragmentary intensities of the complex whole, the gathering together of plateaus, whether related or disparate, generates more of the assemblage, multiplicity or rhizome…of plateaus generated with a multiplicity emerging as 15


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an assemblage appears. This opens (to) unexpected, disparate, productive connections towards creating nascent ways of thinking and learning~living. Appropriately located in the middle of discussing imaginaries, nomad (e)merges from/with/in rhizome and plateaus.

inquiring~thinking~reading~writing as nomad Modernist thought presents as fixed, grounded and stable, with subject and object operating in a separated inside and outside. Nomad thinking disturbs the linear rationale and logic of such essentialised thought, enabling open systems of thinking to come into play in affirming ways, even when its object is (seemingly) negative. There is no limit to what can be thought, at least for those willing ‘to put their imaginations to work’ (Gough, 2006a, p. xiv) as thoughts roam freely, wander, flow outside familiarity towards generating ever-expanding territories of difference and passages of thinking. Movement and territory under negotiation are entwined – each exists with/in the other, in open or smooth spaces as matter-flow. There is no anchoring or assignable reference point, nor are there confining boundaries. In nomadic mo(ve)ment5, one can rise up, move to, and array oneself in any other space (Coleman, 2002). When working nomadically to explore spaces for possible happenings of things different and perhaps incipiently different, questions about truth and meaning are cast aside in favour of, how does it work? and, what new thoughts now become possible to think? (Massumi, 1992). Within nomadic spaces of rhizomatic inquiry of this research, following St.Pierre (2004) other questions include: What exists here in the space of the play and in playspace? What else might there be in these spaces? What other spaces might there be other than the physical surroundings and the enacted play? What might happen in those other interactive spaces? Nomad thought rides difference (Massumi, 1987a); it works by: ‘travel[ling] in the thinking that writing produces’ (St.Pierre, 2000b, p. 258), processing from/through (the) middle(s), coming and going rather than starting and finishing, moving back and forth through a middle~muddle of ideas and through a complexity of dimensions. Nomad thought opens (to) multi-dimensional readings of texts and data by skirting around the text, entering pleats, and folding one text on/in/to another, (Richardson, 2000a). It resonates with laying-down-a-path-in-walking and negotiating enactive spaces of possibility for mindful awareness through back-and-forth communication among inner and outside worlds of lived experience and knowing oneself (Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, 1993). Nomad thinker works to understand interrelationships of text, topic and writer (Richardson, 2000b).

5

Mo(ve)ments meaning both moments and movements.

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In the inquiry of thinking~reading~writing, St.Pierre (2000b) understands this as (re)turning to spaces already worked – mental spaces, textual spaces and theoretical spaces – in itself challenging as such spaces have inevitably changed, and continue to change with each engagement. However, continual (re)visiting and (re)turning to spaces of/within plateaus becomes a way of opening (to) hitherto unnoticed possibilities. As St.Pierre intimates, any concluding thoughts or after-wording turns out to be but a preface of preceding echoes as a need~desire to negotiate more (of the) middle(s) becomes apparent. This rhizo~nomadic inquiry involves deterritorialisation (continually (re)negotiating boundless spaces), destratification (generating undefined and undefinable smooth spaces) and lines of flight composed of unlimited ‘directions in motion’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 21) of both thought and thinking; it embodies notions of connection and heterogeneity, substantive multiplicity, nonsignifying rupture, and mapping and tracing (p. 21); it is about creating a network of a-centred interconnections (Morss, 2000). All becoming a mass of middles, clusters of plateaus, arrays of multi-dimensional movement.

de~territorialising lines of flight Lines of flight are about how things connect and ‘evolve in creative mutations’ (Lorraine, 2005, p. 144); they are about (e)merging, about movement towards change (Parr, 2005). Deterritorialisation is ‘the operation of the line of flight’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 508), foregrounding the ‘creative potential of an assemblage’ (Parr, 2005, p. 67). It is the movement of leaving a territory that simultaneously becomes a re-territorialising movement, when a territory is established once more – like the surface of a mobius strip, these movements happen on the same plane, they are not polar opposites. Lines of flight are thus dynamic mo(ve)ments of de~re~territorialisation that operate through/with/in creations, conquests and changes of territorialities, continually making (dis)connections. As Deleuze and Guattari (1987) explain, a rhizome~plateau~multiplicity~assemblage is: made only with lines: lines of segmentarity and stratification as its dimensions, and the line of flight or deterritorialization as the maximum dimension after which the multiplicity undergoes metamorphosis, changes in nature. These lines, or lineaments, should not be confused with lineages of the arborescent type, which are merely localizable linkages between points and positions. (p. 21) While every assemblage is composed of connecting territories, it is also composed of lines of flight or lines of deterritorialisation that cross through it and carry it away from its current form (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 504). Lorraine (2005) recalls Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) work of/in A Thousand Plateaus as a deterritorialising performance. She points to their deliberately designing the 17


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content and expression of the book to foster lines of flight in thinking – both theirs as writers and those of readers. Lorraine (2005) explains these lines of flight as: …thought-movements that would creatively evolve in connection with the lines of flight of other movements, producing new ways of thinking rather than territorialising into the recognisable grooves of what “passes” for philosophical thought. Interpretations, according to Deleuze and Guattari, trace already established patterns of meaning; [in contrast] maps pursue connections or lines of flight not readily perceptible to the majoritarian subjects of dominant reality. Deleuze and Guattari wrote their book as such a map, hoping to elicit further maps [of continually (dis)connecting lines of flight], rather than interpretations from their readers. (pp. 145-46) However, not all lines of flight are productive with potentially altering qualities. There is a danger that a line of flight can become a line of destruction, reconstructing rigid lines of segmentarity (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987).

smooth nomadic spaces Smooth spaces operate as ‘an open space throughout which things-flows are distributed’ whereas striated spaces are concerned with ‘plotting out a closed space for linear and solid things’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 361). The nomad operates within smooth spaces and is oriented to an understanding of speed and movement rather than being confined in coded (striated) spaces, which are defined by positions and points. Smooth spaces are characterised by passages and passaging inbetween, with ‘points’ becoming relays to be passed through in mo(ve)ments of speed and slowness – ‘the life of the nomad is the intermezzo…points [forming] relays along a trajectory’ (p. 380). Nomadic mo(ve)ment is not so much about moving from place to place, being positioned in one oasis and then another. It is about speeding~slowing through open spaces of shifting ‘points’; following ‘rhizomatic vegetation’ (p. 382), for example, that appears in different places according to the rains, so that passages of crossings are constantly changing. The nomad arrays her/him/self in open spaces, moving ‘while seated’ and being ‘only seated while moving’ (p. 381) rather than ‘entrenching [her/himself] in a closed space’; s/he ‘can rise up at any point and move to any other’ (Massumi, 1987a, p. xiii). However, smooth spaces operate in conjunction with striated spaces, each continually affected by passages of de~re~territorialisation of the other – ‘[s]mooth space is constantly being translated, transversed into a striated space; striated space is constantly being reversed, returned to a smooth space (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 474). This suggests that the smooth spaces of rhizo~poststructuralist thinking, for example, can never be completely devoid of the attention of/to modernist trappings, lurking in the shadows. 18


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But, foregrounding a rhizo~poststructuralist approach, as St.Pierre (2000b) is awake to, my passages through thought and thinking of this research are a nomadic journey of travelling while seated. In some mo(ve)ments I become lost in shifting space~times (in a desert of research and writing) of a middle~muddle of the territory (with data and rhizo-methodology being like sand dunes). Spaces (of data, writing and text) are continually shifting with/in various mo(ve)ments, generating imaginaries that are constantly unfolding in a never-ending thesis-assemblage. The opening imaginaries of rhizome, plateaus and assemblage along with nomad, deterritorialisation, lines of flight and smooth spaces explain something of my performance of a rhizo approach to the research and the thesis-assemblage. More of this unfolds throughout the telling of this rhizoresearch story, in the data, methodology and literature, throughout the various plateaus. Important to the story now is acknowledging my subjectivity.

my subjectivity I speak and write as whitened, female Aotearoa New Zealander of European origins. As pākehā6, that is non-Māori, I acknowledge my relationship with Māori, the indigenous people of my homeland. This is significant: as citizen of Aotearoa New Zealand I am classified New Zealand European, but in Europe I am not European as I was not born there, I am Caucasian; in the US I am white; in Australia I am kiwi; in Aotearoa New Zealand I choose to be pākehā. I grew up in an upwardly mobile working class family and have operated in a middle class world most of my life. My feminist beliefs and poststructuralist thinking affect my living~learning. In everyday living and working, I understand myself as woman~wife~mother~daughter~grandmother~early childhood teacher~teacher educator~student. In these I am representative of both dominant and minority positionings – dominant in my whiteness and as teacher; a minority as woman and working in early childhood. In different moments, any of my subjectivity situated-ness may come to the fore. This web of interconnectedness is a multiplicity of complex, ambiguous and contradictory experiences characterised by overlapping (dis)continuities, always already rhizomatic and embodied. I thus consider my subjectivity as fluxive, provisional, partial and in continuous conditions of becoming, such as becoming-woman becoming-feminist becoming-poststructuralist thinker becomingresearcher – the lack of commas here indicating the interconnectedness of rhizomatic flows of becomings.

6

Pākehā translates as ‘non-Māori’, meaning non-indigenous New Zealanders, but is commonly understood as the dominant, white majority of European origins. However, working with a non-indigenous understanding, includes all cultures not Māori, such as Asian, African, American, European, and Melanesian etc.

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Another aside about becoming: I am aware that the Deleuzo-Guattarian notion of becomingwoman is controversial for some feminist scholars. Although my attention in the thesisassemblage is with becoming-child(ren), Deleuze and Guattari (1987) say that becomings ‘always pass through a becoming-woman’ (p. 291). Braidotti (1994a) expresses ambivalence to this idea, which she ascertains neutralises gender dichotomies to overcome sexual difference; by dissolving the subject ‘woman’ towards transformatively processing ‘becoming-woman’, a gender-free becoming, ‘woman’ disappears into the forces that structure her. Similarly, Grosz (1994a) says Deleuze and Guattari ‘fail to notice that the process of becoming-marginal or becoming-woman means nothing as a strategy if one is already marginal or a woman’ (p.188). Citing Irigaray (1985), Grosz says also that becoming-woman, paradoxically, ‘prevents women from exploring and interrogating their own specific, and nongeneralizable, forms of becoming, desiring-production, and being’ (Grosz, 1994a, p. 189). However, Braidotti (2001) admits that she bends Deleuze for her own needs as she works with the idea of the ‘subject as the plane of composition for multiple becomings’ (p. 410). She approaches subjectivity in terms of a ‘constructive paradox’, in which becoming is central to the project (p. 395). (Re)turning to the position from which I speak, in this research, I also occupy the dubious position of speaking for young children. As adult articulator of the project, I work to (re)present children and their childhood(s), the stories they communicate of their curricular understandings and to illuminate their becomings through/with/ all of these. However, even in thinking I can speak for/about them, I am by extension co-opting their ‘voice’ and risking (mis)appropriation. The approach I take to researching with children inevitably means I must say something, although knowing what I ‘know’ in this moment7, I would likely choose to do it differently another time, by writing the children into the research in ways so that their words and activity does more of the talking. In attempting to dynamically alter the way I think about thinking, in particular towards thinking differently (from the ‘norm’) about children, childhood and curriculum, I work with/in an array of connections among a multiplicity of (im)personal force-affects embodied throughout all the plateaus. Throughout the thesis-assemblage, I work with an understanding of poststructuralist feminist theories to deconstruct the pervasive scientific orientation of developmental influences towards presenting young children as equitably power-full players in curricular performance and as equitably knowledgeable theorists of adult conceptions of curriculum. In working DeleuzoGuattarian philosophy into early childhood education, Olsson (2008) explores different ways of

7

In the closing moments of writing the thesis-assemblage.

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thinking about subjectivity and learning, ‘presenting movement as flows of belief and desire, [this] constituting the starting point of all change in subjectivity and learning’ (¶ 3). She foregrounds processes of children’s desires for their learning ‘rather than trying to predict, supervise, control and evaluate them according to preset standards’ (¶ 3) that impede movement. In using inventive methodologies, she demonstrates processes of subjectivity and learning as being inseparable from the undertaking of the research itself. She says that ‘one must find another logic for how to treat what takes place in between constructed and imagined entities such as individuals and societies…[so that] children through their own collective desires produce new realities in the classroom’ (¶ 5). Confronting the individual|society binary, which she contends immobilises subjectivity and learning, resonates with my challenge to the adult|child binary (as blocking children’s expressions of learning~living) and reflects feminist challenges to oppression of women that link with oppression of children and their childhood(s) (Alanen, 2005; Firestone, 1972). Taking different approaches, such as Deleuzian philosophy inspires, the modernist univocal approach to discourses of the child and childhood is collapsed, giving way to other (re)presentations, which affirm a multiplicity of differences among child(ren), childhood(s) and conceptions of adulthood; a ‘positivity of differences’ (Braidotti, 1994b, p. 164). Olsson’s approach also resounds as ‘performative utterances’ as young children’s expressions of ‘rhizovocality’ (Youngblood Jackson, 2003, p. 707) and opens (to) possibilities for working with my dilemma within this research of needing to articulate the children’s expressions of their understandings within their childhood(s); hopefully, as authentically as is possible, from/with/in my adult understandings, through my subjectivity, using my adult(erated) perceptions.

reading~writing the thesis-assemblage rhizo-nomadically with/in/through plateaus Generating plateaus rhizo-nomadically, rather then developing chapters linearly, is the methodological work of this thesis-assemblage and is relevant to its reading. Through rhizomatic writing and in the process of writing the rhizome, as writer~reader~text I/you become an assemblage of ongoing change and alterity, as a multiplicity of passages are illuminated for approaching any idea, thought or concept and negotiating such spaces as they appear. All are in flux, in constant processes of becoming; a collection of (in)discrete plateau-like (non-)entities connected temporally and spatially towards forming (a) fragmentary whole(s), always already (e)merging. This is not about adding things at the boundaries of the thinking~conversation~discussion~writing, rather, it is about intensifying dimensions (from) with/in (a) middle(s) towards generating plateaus of intensities and intensities of plateaus. Assembling this assemblage is about writing about things as they arise in my thinking~reading – not so much following through one area without interruption. Eruptions/irruptions are to be 21


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followed; plateaus (e)merge, and are negotiated as they are appear. Ideas do not necessarily claim any hierarchy in the thinking, they merely move from the shadows and are illuminated alongside/with/in the reading~writing~thinking journey. Following lines of flight, I flow in and out of boundless territorial spaces, cutting across and carrying away rhizomatic thought and thinking, exploring ‘spaces in which something different might happen’ (St.Pierre, 2004, p. 287), dis/con/junctions accumulating into a-centered masses of understandings. Having opened possibilities with/in/for the writing~reading of the research journey, the option is now open for negotiating the plateaus as they are presented or following other lines of flight. Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa. Let us keep close together, not wide apart. May we experience togetherness in our journeying through the plateaus, as a reading~writing~ thinking assemblage of multidimensional extra/inter/textual experiences, always in conversation about (our) difference.

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Reconceiving curriculum~mapping (a) milieu(s) of becoming opening this reconceiving curriculum plateau In the work of this plateau I bring reconceiving into play for thinking differently or turning about how curriculum is conventionally conceived, to generate another way of conceiving of curriculum – as (a) milieu(s) of becoming. In the recursivity of reconceptualising curriculum where re implies ongoing processes at work, a modernistic, structured expectation lingers that a new concept will eventually be arrived at. My endeavour is not structured in this way or intended as a corrective mechanism and I do not pretend to such a directly reconceptualising exercise per se. Rather, in my reconceiving, I work towards al(l)ways thinking differently about curriculum. I thus negotiate some aspects of early childhood curriculum, involving conversations about historical philosophies affecting early childhood curriculum, a genealogy of reconceptualising early childhood curriculum, influences of developmental psychology and sociocultural approaches on early childhood curriculum and an unravelling of Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996), the Aotearoa New Zealand national early childhood curriculum statement. In recent decades, an extensive body of scholarship has emerged generating diverse possibilities for reconceptualising early childhood curriculum, away from a technicist focus on the curriculum. This has been influenced by work from poststructuralist, feminist and postcolonial perspectives within sociological, psychological and critical theories in particular. Works that mark turning points include: Silin (1987; 1995), from a philosophical perspective, explores the predominant knowledge base that has historically informed early childhood curriculum, challenging the recent reliance on psychological considerations – misconstrued for educational goals; Kessler and Swadener (1992) situate their queries about early childhood curriculum as sociology of curriculum; Bloch’s (1992) critical feminist perspective queries the emphasis of positivist traditions, such as developmental psychology, on early childhood research and practice; Miller (1992) brings a feminist autobiographical understanding to the conversation; Jipson (1992) enacts a feminist form of pedagogy; Cannella’s (1997) critical perspective deconstructs economic and political concerns and promotes social justice for young children, and with Viruru opens these to postcolonial understandings (Viruru & Cannella, 2001).

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Interdisciplinary scholarship is extensive with critical work overlapping and represented (among others) by: •

Early childhood cultural studies (Cannella & Kincheloe, 2002; Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 1999; Grieshaber & Cannella, 2001; Yelland, 2005);

Feminist perspectives (Hauser & Jipson, 1998), including identity (Davies, 1989) and sexuality (Robinson, 2005; Surtees, 2005);

Developmental psychology (Cannella, 2005; Walkerdine, 1998/1984) including critiques of developmentally appropriate practice (Bloch, 1991; Hatch, Bowman, Jor'dan, Morgan, Hart, Soto, Lubeck, & Hyson, 2002; Jipson, 1991; Swadener & Kessler, 1991; Walsh, 1991);

Sociological perspectives (Prout, 2005); ethics and politics (Cannella & Viruru, 2004; Dahlberg & Moss, 2005);

Professionalism (Lubeck, 1996; Stott & Bowman, 1996) and classroom practice (MacNaughton, 2000; Ritchie, 2001).

During the twentieth century three models of education dominated, with differing interpretations of curriculum (Stott & Bowman, 1996). One requires a passive child, socialised in a uniform school culture through indoctrinating her/him with a standardised and lock-stepped curriculum. Another assumes a biologically driven child doing what comes naturally, with biological readiness determining curriculum goals and methods. A third promotes education as progressive, as a transforming experience in which learner and teacher share control of the process by working equitably. Over the past fifty years or so, the conversation about curriculum has turned from a reliance on understandings of the major technical paradigm towards critically questioning what curriculum is – how curriculum understandings evolved and how curriculum became what it is – and how it is enacted. The what and how of curriculum has thus been traditionally understood in many ways: as a course of study; as material or artefacts used in a course of study; as intended learning outcomes; with a focus on process; as being synonymous with education; about design and planning; about development of materials; about instructional strategies and saleable packages; about instruction and evaluation (Pinar, 1975a, p. 400). Historically, curriculum has been imbued with shifting meanings. The word ‘curriculum’ derives from the Latin infinitive currere, meaning to run: ‘a running, a race, a course’ (Egan, 2003, p. 10). In this understanding, the activity of the process is foregrounded, as in to ‘run the racecourse’ (Kincheloe, Slattery, & Steinberg, 2000, p. 329). In the mid 1970s, in a critical response to these artefact-oriented approaches, Pinar (1974, 1975b) with Grumet (Pinar & Grumet, 1976) called on the notion of currere to bring the context of learning into the conversation as well as the lived 24


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experiences of the learner. They use currere to refer to a method and theory of reconceptualising curriculum as educational experience: [Currere] describes the race not only in terms of the course, the readiness of the runner, but seeks to know the experience of the running of one particular runner, on one particular track, on one particular day, in one particular wind … Educational experience is a process that takes on the world without appropriating that world, that projects the self into that world without dismembering that self…. (Grumet, 1976b, p. 36, italics added) In the 1970s, the scholarship of Pinar and Apple marked the emerging interest in reconceptualising curriculum. Using an autobiographical perspective, Pinar (1974) foregrounded the significance of understanding the nature of personal educational experiences, working ‘multiplexed directions’ (Marshall, Sears, & Schubert, 2000, p. 218) that involved phenomenological, psychoanalytical, deconstructional, and autobiographical understandings. Apple’s (1979) ideological critique of curriculum uncovered ramifications for institutions, particularly the interplay among education and power in schools and texts (Marshall et al., 2000). Both Apple and Pinar were passionately committed to the emerging reconceptualist field, but their differing perspectives distanced them from each other. Early childhood education scholars who engaged with this reconceptualist challenge as anthropologists, sociologists, feminists, historians and early childhood educationists included Beth Swadener, Mimi Bloch, Shirley Kessler and Janice Jipson (Beth Swadener, personal communication, July 31, 2008). Notable others were: Sally Lubeck, Daniel Walsh, Jonathan Silin and Joseph Tobin (Lambert & Clyde, 2000). Their work opened the ongoing critique of developmental approaches to understanding children’s growth and learning and to curricular practices. Drawing on poststructuralist~feminist theory and working with Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries, I work to further deconstruct the scientific orientation of developmental influences on early childhood curriculum towards generating curricular understandings that welcome children and their understandings as equitable play(ers) in/of curriculum. Also, linking to this plateau are the Rhizo-mapping and Children performing curriculum complexly plateaus, which respectively present mapping as a way of making sense of children doing learning and the complex milieu of children’s curricular performances from the data.

once upon a time, curriculum was…in western understandings… Two thousand years ago in classical times, Cicero used curriculum to mean a relatively contextualised living and learning process, viewing the temporal space in which people lived as a 25


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container within which things are studied (Egan, 2003). However, despite this metaphorical linking of temporal space (container) and intellectual pursuits (content – the what), pedagogical issues such as method and instruction (the how) were not questioned. Centuries later in the pre-print medieval world it remained a given that the master taught the novice, and by the end of the nineteenth century, curriculum was still understood simply as content – the syllabus. The what of curriculum was the focus; pedagogical processes of how received less attention. However, questions about pedagogical processes of how evolved, how best to teach having combined practical and theoretical implications. This is evident in the theoretical and practical work of Rousseau, Itard, Seguin, Montessori and Dewey, for example, much of which was interested in developing methods and procedures for the education of abnormal and disadvantaged children that informed teaching within normal schooling. 8 As schooling became more universal, it became a political necessity and economic concern to ask fundamental curriculum questions about what it is important to know and what knowledge is worthwhile (Marshall et al., 2000, p. 220). What children should be taught and how that should be taught have thus become contested issues from both practitioner and policy-maker perspectives alongside academic discussion drawing from psychological, philosophical, sociological, political sub-fields. Despite extensive questioning of curriculum through the past two thousand years, Egan (2003) is bold enough to say that nothing much has changed in how curriculum is understood. Tracings of what and how pervade.

historical westernised philosophies of early childhood education While the notion of childhood emerged during the sixteenth century (Ariès, 1962), the seventeenth and eighteenth century pedagogical treatises of Comenius, Locke and Rousseau are commonly regarded as significant indicators of an emerging awareness of early years education and curriculum, although Plato’s legacy two thousand years earlier records his ideas and thinking about education of the young (Silin, 1995; Wolfe, 2000; Yolton, 1998). Plato promoted the value of educating young children with a concern for what they were to be taught (values) and how (stories and poetry were the method of their earliest education), towards creating a Utopian state. Comenius (1592-1670) advocated sense-based learning for children up to six years old, addressing both the what and how of learning, in terms of method and materials. His social agenda as a bishop promoted education for the greater good of society. In 1690 Locke (1632-1704) published an essay

8

I use the terms ‘abnormal’ and ‘normal’ as in the times and work referred to. Contemporarily, they are contestable terms challenging an implied deficit of children and raising ideological questions such as: Who decides how ‘ab/normal’ is defined? For what reasons? Which children are perceived as needing intervention? How are these children to be managed?

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containing a rudimentary developmental psychology, tracing development from infancy to adulthood. Play was important to learning, education being a pleasurable experience towards a better society. Locke was more concerned with the how than the what, with virtue a more important outcome of education than any subject-specific knowledge. Rousseau (1712-1778) appreciated childhood as a specific period in life, in which infancy (the first five years) was to be lived as fully as possible, the focus not on preparation for the next period. In addressing individual differences, motivation, stages and learning styles, his work heralded the child study movement and presaged child-centred education. The what of education was determined by the child being allowed to grow and develop naturally; the how was by means of this natural flow of experiences facilitated by the teacher, but very much dependent on the child’s desire to learn. His educational philosophy is less about specific techniques of the how and more about a processual how that ensures children absorb information and understand concepts (the what). In 1835, Froebel established a school for young children called Kleinkinderbeschaftigunganstalt (an institution where young children are occupied), but, as his ideas developed about children growing and learning, he renamed the new institution Kindergarten (kinder, child; garten, garden) conveying his sense of a nursery where young plants are nurtured. This Froebelian Kindergarten later became a catalyst for the development of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Froebel had great respect for children and childhood and in his Kindergarten children’s cognitive capacities were cultivated through an ordered programme designed ‘to awaken their abilities, stimulate their mental activities and produce an inner organization’ (Wolfe, 2000, p. 82). He believed that early education, in which children were actively involved in a quest for knowledge, was significant to achieving a better society. The plays of childhood are the germinal leaves of all later life…To lead children early to think, this I consider the first and foremost object of child training…Knowledge acquired in our own active experience is more living and fruitful than that conveyed only by words. (Froebel, 1908, p. 55) Through Froebel’s work, we see an emerging role of child study (through observations documented by the teachers he employed) in early childhood education and the beginnings of formulated developmental stages with implications of readiness for constructing knowledge (Silin, 1995). He believed that children progressed through infant (0-3 years), child (4-7 years) and boyhood (8-10 years) stages – never girlhood – and that successful completion of each stage was essential for attainment in the next. He coined the term early childhood to describe the infancy and child stages, considering that play in early childhood was central to learning and to adult life: 27


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…play at this time is not trivial, it is highly serious and of deep significance…the spontaneous play of the child discloses the future inner life of the man. (Froebel, 1908, p. 55) However, the potential for working with the child’s interests, spontaneity and free play were limited by his ordered programme and didactic approach. Froebelian curriculum focused on the what (prescribed by his teaching resources called ‘gifts’ and ‘occupations’), achieved through the how (working with the gifts and occupations). The work of Dewey (1859-1952) promoted the progressivist belief that early childhood curriculum should be built on psychological principles, which in turn should inform teaching as more than just methods of presenting facts (Silin, 1987). Alongside Froebel’s rationalist thinking for education, Dewey’s democratic ideals have influenced early childhood educational approaches significantly in Aotearoa New Zealand, in particular the Kindergarten movement. Dewey’s experimental Laboratory School was a learning community in which home and school were an integrated whole, with teachers, children and parents involved as co-educators. The child’s interest in any given subject was crucial – ‘It is not a question of how to teach the child geography but first of all a question of what geography is for the child’ (Dewey, 1897, quoted in Wolfe, 2000, p. 206). The teacher’s role was to ascertain what the children’s interests were and to furnish them with opportunities and conditions to carry active investigations through extended periods of time. This was not child-centred learning as such, as teachers and their subject knowledge were integral. Dewey’s was not a traditional content-oriented curriculum; curriculum was both content and process, the what and how integrated in ways meaningful to the student. Knowledge was a byproduct of processes of learning, being inseparable from the activity that produced it. Curriculum is thus understood as experience and subject matter and interactions with people and the environment; there was no place for rote learning. Also, play was central to this process of learning by doing, requiring children to think about actions and processes of the world they live in. Dewey’s view of curriculum was that activity (the how) and subject matter (the what) needed to be considered equally, to avoid a false dualism.

linking Dewey and Deleuze For Dewey, subject matter was neither stable nor prescriptive; he understood content (the what) as being in flux, constantly changing and situated contextually: Abandon the notion of subject-matter as something fixed and ready-made in itself, outside the child’s experience; cease thinking of the child’s experience as also something hard and fast; see 28


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it as something fluent, embryonic, vital; and we realize that the child and the curriculum are simply two limits which define a single process. (Dewey, 1943, p. 11) Dewey thus conceives of curriculum as emerging from the experiences of the child, the child’s experiences becoming curriculum. This converges with the Deleuzo-Guattarian notion of becoming, as the child becomes curriculum, curriculum becomes the child so that curriculum and child are always already becoming – becoming-curriculum, becoming-child – recursively changing and embodied within each other. How the what manifests and what the how is, or how they both work, blurs in/to/with/in territories of child and curriculum. Both curriculum and child manifest as fluid and diverse, intensifying through/with/in processes of (dis)continuities, or of de/territorialising. Dewey’s work is commonly understood as a series of related projects of logical, progressive development (Wolfe, 2000), also that the whole experiential situation precedes the process of knowing (Semetsky, 2006). But, in encouraging teachers to connect the interests of the children to everyday activities in the adult world, teaching in a Deweyan way becomes less of a linear exercise and more like ‘laying down a path in walking’ (Varela, 1987, p. 48). For example, an excerpt from the Program of Group III (Age Six) (Mayhew & Edwards, 1966/1936) tells the story of a learning journey as these children negotiate a (rhizomatic) pathway through subjects related to curricular areas of the natural/living world, technology (woodwork, cooking) and through social worlds, with peers, teachers, the school community and the outside community. Over an extended period of time, this particular group of children moved through an array of connected topics that grew out of a farm project. In this one can see the complexity of curriculum in action and children’s curricular performance. The learning activity happened over more than a year, although as Mayhew and Edwards’ narrative closes, there is a sense that the sheep/wool exploration was barely beginning. Reflecting what had already happened, ongoing exploration may have involved spinning, weaving, dyeing, knitting, crocheting, sewing, textiles, other fabrics, clothing, plays, costumes, fibres, goat hair, mohair and so on… As well as the extent of the topics (the what) investigated and how the project evolved through the children’s desires and explorations, what is inspiring is how it worked. The project had grown through a year, although ‘the project’ documented had grown out of earlier ‘projects’, which begs the Deleuzo-Guattarian inspired questions: Did projects ever actually begin and end? If so, where? And, is it possible to define beginnings and endings anyway? It seems the project described was part of an ever growing, multi-dimensional, middle of intensities – a milieu of becoming. There was no attempt to curb the direction or extent of the children’s learning desires or to take over in any 29


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way and the narrative suggests that the teachers were as engaged with the project as the children, quietly waiting for moments when their knowledge could enhance what was already happening – embodied learning of works in progress. It appears that this fluid approach to learning and teaching continues, as The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools website states: ‘The curriculum of the Laboratory Schools is by no means set in stone. It changes. It evolves. It is a work in progress’ (The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, 2008-09).. Semetsky (2006) identifies an affinity between Dewey and Deleuze’s work, bringing Dewey’s ‘naturalistic epistemology and aesthetics’ and Deleuze’s ‘conceptual space’ of becoming together to address the relevance of one to the other in education (p. xxi). She demonstrates a continuity of thought between them in relation to the experiential and experimental nature of their respective philosophical inquiry, such as their common understandings of teaching and learning as a ‘research laboratory’ (p. 119). The virtual interaction (of her making) between them also illuminates ‘the presence of an organizing vital force which is “free, moving and operative”’ (Dewey, 1925/58, quoted in Semetsky, 2006, p. xxiv) akin to the Deleuzo-Guattarian (1987) nomad, rhizome, de~territorialising lines of flight and smooth spaces of assemblage~multiplicities. In this, Semetsky recognises ‘a living spirit’ in their works, implying that each ‘lives in his works’, and, I infer, in the works of the other (p. xxiv).

reconceptualising early childhood curriculum The 1970s marked a significant turning point in the characterisation of curriculum, both conceptually and methodologically as supporting structures were reconceived, turned back on themselves, revealing an abundance of rich experiences previously concealed (Grumet, 1999). This work represented a reaction to the Tylerian tradition (Tyler, 1949), which promoted a technicist model with clearly defined subject areas, and limited curriculum to overt behavioural objectives (Kincheloe et al., 2000). Scholars dedicated to reconceptualising curriculum understood curriculum as being complex, beyond Tyler’s rationale (Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery, & Taubman, 1995). They worked to (re)shape the curriculum field by illuminating philosophical, historical and political dimensions of learning~teaching (Kessler & Swadener, 1992; Marshall et al., 2000), promoting curriculum not as a sequence chart or a list of objectives, but as processual, interdisciplinary experience involving theoretical, social and cultural phenomena, through which ‘all life experiences are valued for their potential to inform and inspire learning’ (Kincheloe, et al., 2000, p. 325). Pinar (1974) and Apple (1979) provided significant challenges to conventional approaches to curriculum (as mentioned above) and from Grumet’s (1976a) autobiographical perspective, reconceptualising became a reflexive project, placing conceptual understandings alongside lived experience. These 30


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exemplify the shift from practical interests in the development of curriculum to a theoretical/ practical interest in understanding curriculum (Pinar et al., 1995), which was not only about developing alternatives to the curriculum, but about reconceiving ideas about mapping the field of curriculum. Reconceptualising is then, not so much a paradigm shift but more about shifting ground (Marshall et al., 2000, pp. 195ff.). This philosophical shift in reconceptualising curriculum – from a focus on a technicist development of the curriculum towards developing philosophical understandings of what curriculum means in practical and theoretical terms – was also attended to by early childhood educationists as they reconsidered and re-imagined (other) ways of thinking about early childhood curriculum. From the early 1980s, critical theories of curriculum, ideology, power and knowledge in curriculum, as well as historical questions about curriculum formation and the inherent power relations, appear in early childhood research and literature. Contributions from those interested in early childhood education included in the UK: David’s (1980) radical social ideas that questioned teacher-student relationships and foregrounded links between home and school and Walkerdine’s (1998/1984) critique of developmental psychology, which emphasised child-centred pedagogy. There were also contributions from the USA, such as: Suransky’s (1982) dissertation on the erosion of childhood; King’s (1992) work foregrounding the significance of context in children’s play, disrupting dominating developmental analyses; and Ayers’ (1992) contribution in bringing teacher’s autobiographical accounts of their teaching experiences into scholarly conversations, of researchers and policy-makers. Annual curriculum theory conferences from 1983 through the early 1990s were a prime forum for reconceptualist work in the USA and Marianne Bloch (personal communication, August 5, 2008) notes that the discussion opened here was significant to reconceptualising early childhood education. From within this reconceptualising project, many early childhood curricularists, practitioners and researchers confronted the reliance on psychological considerations, commonly misconstrued as educational goals that silence sociological and philosophical perspectives (Silin, 1995). While developmentalism loses some of its hold, governmental economic and political agenda override critical concerns (Cannella, 2005), concerns all-too-frequently left in the shadows by (pre 1970s) dominant bodies of thought. Contributions to the conversation from critical sociological and feminist perspectives of curriculum, include the works of Miller (1982, 1999), Davies (1989) and Silin (1995). Critical decolonising research that works to make audible all voices has also informed the endeavour (Bishop, 2008; Smith, 1999, 2008; Soto & Swadener, 2002; Swadener & Mutua, 2007). Issues of power, diverse lived experiences of children and indigenous knowledge are brought 31


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into the curriculum conversation (Bishop, 2008; Grieshaber & Cannella, 2001; Quintero, 2007; Reedy, 2003; Ritchie, 2001; Ritchie & Rau, 2003). The perpetual question resounds – Whose knowledge is privileged? (Bloch, 2007) – and another sounds – Who chooses what research methodology? (Rhedding-Jones, 2007).

a reconceptualising project ~ Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa In the early 1990s, early childhood curriculum was being revisited in Aotearoa New Zealand and, although distanced, in effect contributed to the reconceptualist project underway worldwide. Although with a somewhat different initiating agenda, the early childhood curriculum national statement that was developed, Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa9 (Ministry of Education, 1996) happened through a governmental initiative, as part of the education reforms of the late 1980s. In 1988, the government established a working group to investigate the mission of early childhood education (Department of Education, 1988) and in 1990 Helen May and Margaret Carr won the tender to develop curriculum guidelines for developmentally appropriate programmes. Their proposal represented a re-conceptualisation of the previously dominant westernised approach to early childhood curriculum development, presenting content, process, context and evaluation as interdependent (Te One, 2003). In extensive consultation with the sector and informed by Māori understandings of development and pedagogy gifted by Te Kōhanga Reo10, the bi-cultural curriculum model (Te Whāriki) was developed that embodied tikanga Māori.11 This document presented (as) a sociocultural approach and despite the contract brief requiring developmentally appropriate guidelines, specifics of these were sidelined, and the westernised brief was essentially displaced. Te Whāriki embodies a Māori philosophical approach, opening ways for diverse cultural understandings and socially just practice, similar to reconceptualist concerns in the UK and the USA. The principles (empowerment~ whakamana, holistic development~kotahitanga, family and community~whānau tangata, and relationships~ngā hononga) underpinning the model represent parallel, complementary Māori and western understandings, as do the interwoven strands (well-being~mana atua, belonging~mana whenua, contribution~mana tangata, communication~mana reo, and exploration~mana aotūroa). (Figure 4) 9

Commonly referred to as Te Whāriki. Te Kōhanga Reo are early childhood Māori immersion programmes established in 1984 to promote and nurture Māori language (Te Reo Māori) and culture (tikanga Māori). 11 I use the term bi-cultural with caution. Although Te Whāriki is understood as a bi-cultural document, I acknowledge Durie’s (1998) concern with the term. He talks in terms of tino rangatiratanga (self-determination) for all cultures, reflective of cultural values and beliefs. 10

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Figure 4: Te Whāriki’s woven mat of principles and strands. (Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 13)

An approximate literal translation of Te Whāriki is that it is a woven mat; and the subtitle He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa translates approximately into ‘the strands of the woven web of knowledge for the children of New Zealand.’ However, a Māori perspective works not so much with a literal understanding of the words, but more with whāriki as a metaphor for bringing together or interweaving various topics and issues around the scope for education of young children in Aotearoa New Zealand (Thomas Tawhiri – Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Raukawa – personal communication, December 22, 2008). An accepted pākehā12 academic explanation is that Te Whāriki provides a metaphorical mat, for all to stand on, of interwoven principles and strands for diverse early childhood programmes to work with – to weave differing perceptions of children and their communities in ways that create their own curriculum patterns in the fabric (Podmore & May, 2003). This considers learning as complex and functional understandings of knowledge and

12

That is, non-Māori, but commonly understood as the dominant white, western.

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skills attached to specific sociocultural contexts, ‘rather than a staircase of individually acquired skills’ (May & Carr, 2000, p. 163), all too frequently considered preparation for schooling. It values early childhood learning in itself, encouraging formative rather than summative procedures. Te Whāriki thus becomes a curriculum space whereby all languages and cultures can thrive authentically, not just as add-ons (Mara, 1998). The weaving of principles and strands together express ideals and aspirations for young children and possibilities for working respectfully across cultures, weaving people and cultures together. However, some scholars argue that there is a need for more critical engagement with implications of the sociocultural ideals for teaching practice (Cullen, 2003; Duhn, 2006; Edwards & Nuttall, 2005), towards furthering possibilities for Te Whāriki as a catalyst for change. In this presentation of curriculum as principles and strands, Te Whāriki is not a prescriptive, definitive document, rather, it provides direction; content is not specified and proposed learning outcomes are indicative only. It is curriculum without ‘recipes’, a ‘dictionary’ of possibilities (May & Carr, 2000). However, the articulation of learning outcomes (i.e. examples of experiences that help meet these outcomes) and key curriculum requirements for infants, toddlers and young children slip back to western developmental theory and achievement expectations. From my observations, these learning outcomes in particular are all-too-often diligently adhered to, without the critical concern Cullen (2003) expresses a need for. As Cullen notes, many programmes reflect those of the 1980s and early 1990s when the developmental discourse dominated. So while Te Whāriki represents significant changes in thinking about curriculum and what it means for children and their childhoods, it also represents the difficulties of trying to think and speak differently within the worlds of educational theory and practice, in which modernist concepts and language pervade. But, the problematic then arises of how to articulate these in ways relevant to the everyday worlds of teachers. For the moment there seems no alternative other than promoting ongoing practitioner critique and reflexivity and trying to work other ways of thinking into our repertoire. Ongoing reconceptualising of curriculum works to disrupt the pervasiveness of modernist, developmental modes of thinking within early childhood curriculum (See, for example: Cannella, 1997, 1998; Cannella & Kincheloe, 2002; Cannella & Viruru, 2004; Grieshaber & Cannella, 2001; Jipson & Johnson, 2001; Kincheloe, 1997; Yelland, 2005). There is, however, no one way towards reconceiving curriculum by way of this reconceptualist task, rather it is multidirectional and multidimensional, being continually critiqued and revised, emerging from collective conversations, and using new inventions and new languages (Cannella, 1997, pp. 160-61), such as readings of Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophy may open. 34


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introducing reconceptualising Reconceptualist work has revealed that what we think we know about children and curriculum is affected by the values and biases of those who dare to speak and theorise about these issues. Lubeck considers this a somewhat risky enterprise: ‘To reconceptualize is to be angry and to dream’ (Lubeck, 1991, p. 168). More pragmatically, however, Cannella (2005) considers that reconceptualist work questions overt and hidden agendas of particular knowledges, circumstances under which certain beliefs evolved, how ‘truths’ have been constructed and who has been/is supported, hurt, privileged, disqualified (Cannella, 2005). In questioning what we do, why we do it, whose interests are served, and the (un)intended consequences of these, we begin to understand what is missing and what could be. The implications of these questions, such as, critiquing ideological assumptions, desiring change for a greater good, appreciating a misfit of educational curriculum with processes of living, imagining difference and responding passionately and creatively to personal ideals, are intermingled (explicitly and implicitly) throughout this thesisassemblage. The political agenda (both personal and societal) about curriculum does not, however, deter an ongoing general curricular focus on how and what. In considering issues of method and procedure (the how), a considerable philosophical challenge arises: The difficulty in admitting the question, how, into curriculum matters is that there becomes little of educational relevance that can be excluded from the curriculum field. This means that one can do almost anything in education and claim plausibly to be working in “curriculum”. (Egan, 2003, p. 69, italics added) Yet, should this be problematic as Egan implies, given the complexity of the world we live in? For example, currere (Pinar & Grumet, 1976) complexifies curriculum through its autobiographical experiencing that includes the contextual as relevant to the postmodern condition with/in which we live.13 Similarly, Grumet (1999) characterises the nature of curriculum as inextricably entwined relationships of living and learning.

currere for reconceptualising Currere (Pinar, 1974) breathes life back into traditional views of curriculum, considering curriculum as living and lived experience that learners engage with, towards enhancing the knowing

13

Furthering currere, Warren Sellers invents the notion of c u r a to explicate contextual inclusiveness as a performance of merging living and learning, as living~learning, as embodying ‘continuous~various~diverse~learning experiences that are always-already occurring’ (Sellers, W., 2008, p. 207).

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and knowledge of their inner and personal worlds. In exploring the nature of experience, it is not about content and differs from process. It is about existing in educational contexts, involving a shift in ‘cognitive insight’ as well as ‘affective insight’ (p. 167). Teachers must also learn how to become students of currere, to become students of them/our/selves. As reflexive practitioners, we seek to understand our own learning processes as we attempt to unravel young children’s understandings about their learning as we learn alongside young children. The significance of the educational journey is with engaging with the nature of the experience, educational and otherwise. For example, we might ask of ourselves as teachers~students – at the same time considering how it might be for young children – questions similar to those Pinar (1974, pp. 152-3) asks: How does it feel to be uprooted from my daily life, geographically, socially, psychologically? What is my experience of this place, its people, of other children~learners~ teachers? What emotions are evoked? When? Why? How do I respond? What do my responses tell me? Do I actually want to make this particular learning journey? Did I have a choice? What about my peers~teachers~students~colleagues, their motives and interest in me? What can we learn from each other? These kinds of questions, requiring a reflexive response to inner experiences, work to inform currere, moving away from a purely what-how agenda, foregrounding the ‘nature of my existence within the educational context’ (Pinar, 1974, p. 155). Pinar maintains that this approach – of studying the experience of the educational journey and the journey of the educational experience – is a more apt interpretation of curriculum when considering the Latin derivation, currere. This links to Deleuze and Guattari’s urge to work rhizomatically with mapping as another way of thinking, one that disrupts a linearly ordered, rational approach. Mapping is conceived as: open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation…it always has multiple entryways…the map has to do with performance…. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 12) Interestingly, currere, (Pinar, 1974) as a way of reconceptualising curriculum, emerges only a moment before Deleuze and Guattari’s (1976) imaginary of rhizome, with both offering an/other approach(es) to thought and thinking about curriculum. In presenting the learning~teaching~ curriculum assemblage as contextual, with complex and generative possibilities, Pinar’s autobiographical approach critiques the dominating scientist, technicist conceptions of curriculum. Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophical discourse around the activity of thinking differently perturb the logic and rationale of modernity’s arborescent thought and open (to) (poststructuralist) possibilities for thinking curriculum otherwise/other ways, although Deleuze and Guattari refused 36


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the label poststructuralist. However, Pinar was a dedicated reconceptualist and the reconceptualist project continues along with the Deleuzo-Guattarian project of thinking differently – ‘Reconceptualization is never finished; it is not a doctrine or an end point, but constant critique from which new constructions emerge’ (Cannella, 1997, p. 161). Reconceptualising is a continuous, never-ending process, never complete with questions never fully answered; it is about working with incipiently different thinking of other ways of thinking. I believe there is a multiplicity of multidirectional and multidimensional ways and spaces, with/in which reconceptualising work can move. These spaces are characterised, partially, by the biases and values we lay open as we admit our own histories, culture, contextual and temporal experiences to the conversation, in the process, ‘respecting and valuing multiple realities and possibilities’ (Cannella, 1998, p. 173).

(re)turning to ‘what’ and ‘how’ While the historic undermining of the centrality of content may be conceived as potentially problematic to traditionally modernistic views of curriculum, it is worth noting that the Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996) definition of curriculum for early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand contextualises the almost-anything-claim-to-plausibility. The documentation of Te Whāriki affirms diversity, stating that everything surrounding learners and learning matters and simultaneously avoiding specifics of what and how, and curriculum is described as: the sum total of the experiences, activities, and events, whether direct or indirect, which occur within an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development…curriculum is provided by the people, places, and things in the child’s environment; the adults, the other children, the physical environment, and the resources. (Ministry of Education, 1996, pp. 10-11) This inclusive understanding of curriculum as experiential is a commonly accepted, albeit variably practised, characteristic of early childhood curriculum Aotearoa New Zealand. It is a working and pertinent response to Egan’s (1978) philosophical challenge to curriculum, in which he posits a (supposed) general failure of nerve, vision and direction by contemporary educationists: To know what the curriculum should contain requires a sense of what the contents are for. If one lacks a clear sense of the purpose of education, then one is deprived of an essential means of specifying what the curriculum should contain. More commonly now, this problem is stated in terms of the accumulating pace of change, making decisions about a content-based curriculum meaningless. Who can specify what skills will be needed in the future? This manner of stating 37


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the problem exemplifies the failure of nerve: it suggests we have no control over the future; we cannot make of it what seems best to us. (Egan, 1978, p.70, original italics) However, I would argue that the question, ‘who can specify what skills will be needed in the future’, does not require a content related response, though complicated it may be. Rather curriculum needs to respond to complex and ecologically sustainable issues of living~learning and to do otherwise lacks nerve, vision and direction. We demonstrate considerable nerve and vision when we are willing to say ‘no’ to prescribing curriculum and ‘yes’ to opening (to) possibilities for rethinking what curriculum means, to change our perspective(s), to open to incipiently-different ways of thinking about curriculum(ing), to (re)visit the (ongoing) (re)conceptualising curriculum endeavour. So, as Egan (un)intentionally points out, making content-based decisions about curriculum as it relates to the learning of young children in particular appears redundant. The questions: How does curriculum work for young children? How do young children make curriculum work? open curricular possibilities for now and the future. Egan (2003) does allude to curriculum being understood as functional, in saying that ‘knowing what the curriculum should contain requires a sense of what the contents are for’ (p. 14, original italics, underline added), or what do children want to do with the what? To take this part of the challenge seriously, we need to take young children seriously and openly receive their curricula performances as expressions of their understandings. Adults may not know best. Considering what young children (may) do with/in curriculum is significant to understanding how it (may) work(s) for them. It is feasible that young children’s ideas about the what/how needs of their own learning could be as relevant and appropriate to their future lives as any adult predictions, whether educationists, politicians or parents. Their conceptions of curriculum could well inform, or even comprise a more visionary approach. In 1986, Schubert states that ‘every individual in the final analysis must direct his or her own learning. Thus, every person, regardless of his or her age, is in charge of his or her own self-education…be they children, adults, or entire communities’ (1986, p.6). Assuming ‘every person’ includes young children – Leavitt (1994) would also include infants and toddlers – this opens possibilities for young children to be supported in growing their chosen learning capacities, in so doing, expressing (to the imperceptive adult world) their curricular understandings. All this, without prescriptive constraints imposed by adults – curricularists, policy-makers, educationists, parents even – who commonly claim to know what young children’s learning should comprise and how they should go about it. The adult world most often sees no need to question whether mature,

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rational adults do indeed know ‘best’, oblivious to the notion that younger human beings can participate in curriculum in a critically aware manner (Phillips, 2008). Deleuze (in Foucault & Deleuze, 1980) adds credence to the above proposition. He believes that young children’s (verbal and non-verbal) expressions about their learning are not listened to and the potential impact on the educational system of their expressions is not acknowledged. In a conversation about the nature of power-imbued reforms, he states that reforms are frequently ‘designed by people who claim to be representative, who make a profession of speaking for others…’ (Deleuze, in Foucault & Deleuze, 1980, pp. 208-209). He asserts that if the ‘protests of children were heard in kindergarten, if their questions were attended to, it would be enough to explode the entire educational system’ (p. 209). This is a power-full statement. I am reminded that I presume to speak for young children and while ever-mindful of not (mis)appropriating their intellectual spaces, I am an agent of this adult(erated) system of power…and…from a Foucauldian perspective, (re)conceptualising curriculum is inevitably part of this system of power…and…while I admit responsibility for self-consciously writing reflexively, this discourse inevitably forms part of the power-imbued system of reform that I continue in writing this thesis-assemblage. Ever-mindful that (my) reflexivity is continuously foreshadowed by power-full systems, I am aware of ‘slip[ping] inadvertently into constituting the very self that seems to contradict a focus on the constitutive power of discourse’ (Davies, Browne, Gannon, Honan, Laws, Mueller-Rockstroh, & Petersen, 2004, p. 360), and of attempting not to inasmuch as it is (im)possible to do so. The conversation is always already (im)partial. In a study exploring how children aged six to eight years were making meaning and expressing their understandings of their worlds through ‘graphic-narrative’ play, Wright (2007) reports that ‘many of their abstract concepts demonstrated wisdom which seemed…well beyond their years’ (p. 24). Tapping into such wisdom may not be a straightforward exercise as Moloney (2005) considers that effective ‘hearers of children’ (p. 217) need to be well-trained and well-skilled in operating with considerable openness, and that making sense of children’s wisdom requires a reciprocity of ‘telling and listening’ (p. 216). Making sense of the expressions of curricular performance of the four and a half to five year olds of this research is similarly challenging. Even though, in scholarly terms young children have no theoretical understandings of curriculum, they often communicate what works in regard to learning~teaching by their willingness to participate – or not. For example, Marcy14, aged two, the child who inspired this research, demonstrated

14

See Letter to Marcy in Preceding echoes.

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forcefully and confidently what mattered for her learning in the moment she resisted leaving her puzzle unfinished because it was time to sit at a table and listen to a story; she even attempted a compromise by planting herself firmly on my knee as I sat nearby. Both actions were to no avail as I was informed that this was typical of her ‘disruptive’ behaviour. My non-developmentalist reading was that Marcy was demonstrating her understanding of doing learning, wisdom not beyond her years, but beyond the comprehension of the adults in the room at that moment. However, psychological developmentalist perspectives prevail.

developmental psychology influences early childhood curriculum Psychological interpretations of early childhood curriculum evolved through the study of child development. These psychological influences, although supposedly fading (Prout, 2005), are nonetheless pervasive in early childhood curricular theorising and practice, promoting western perspectives of a universal, individual, normal child. Informed by the direct observation of children, the child study movement aimed to utilise scientific findings on what children know and when they should learn it as a way of understanding the means of progress in human life. Normal developmental stages were thus universalised in child development studies, this positivist worldview legitimising a predetermined sequence of experiences with which early childhood education could work. Information gained from observing this supposedly ‘normalised’ child could then be used to structure appropriate educational environments, providing for developmentally determined interests of individualised children. But these views overlook the fact that valorising normalcy limits possibilities for children and positions those who define what is ‘normal’ – adult experts – at the top of a hierarchy of power. Early childhood education became conflated with child development and learning with development. Child study morphed into the new science of child development, which required positivist methodology that was experimental and deemed to be rigorous, objective and quantitatively measurable. Kessler (1991) contends that the qualities of the subsidiary concept of development became exaggerated to the extent that it replaced education as a lens through which to view early childhood programmes. Walkerdine (1998/1984) explains that the psychological perspective of child development was constructed to privilege objectivist, scientific approaches and individualism. For example15, Piaget’s maturationist view of children developing through predictable and sequential stages was in opposition to a naturalistic view of inherited or pregiven intelligence associated with a Social Darwinism position. Piaget’s theory evolved through the 1950s 15

Other stage theorists having significant influence on early childhood education were Freud, Gesell and Erikson, although Piaget remains the most notable.

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when the emerging technocratic ideology optimistically valorised the scientific method of behaviourism. Psychoanalysis also thrived at this time and alongside these, child-centredness evolved in the 1960s within a pedagogy of child study. Then, learning theory (Bruner, 1986) evolved, similarly describing development in universal terms, as an individual process, ignoring culture (Rogoff, 2003). Walsh attributes the widespread acceptance of Piagetian theory in early childhood education to a comfortable blend of Piaget’s stages of development with the romantic maturationism of the first half of the twentieth century. However, he notes that it is curious that allegiance to Piaget – who was neither educationist nor psychologist – remains strong despite weaknesses in the individualistic perspective, as revealed by Vygotsky’s sociocultural approach to development. Vygotsky’s (1978) social constructivist perspective on development and learning posits that individualised psychology is culturally mediated, that we learn through interaction with others, that thought develops socially and that we are because of others. Through social interactions, a child learns the habits of mind of her/his culture, through which s/he derives meaning and this affects the construction of her/his knowledge, the specific knowledge acquired by children through these interactions representing the shared knowledge of a culture. But, as Cole and Wertsch (Cole & Wertsch, 1996) suggest, the strengths of both Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories complement their respective weaknesses and to debate the primacy of the individual or the social serves no useful purpose. A more recent sociocultural response to young children’s growth and learning is Rogoff’s (1998) personal, interpersonal and community/institutional planes of analysis, which adopts these three lenses for viewing the sociocultural complexity involved. ‘Using personal, interpersonal and community/institutional planes of analysis involves focusing on one plane, but still using background information from the other planes’ (p. 688), thus engaging more authentically with the cultural nature of human development. Despite movements to engage with sociocultural contexts, the contemporary discourse of developmentally appropriate practice [DAP] continues to work with individuality (See Bredekamp, 1987; Bredekamp & Copple, 1997) Although DAP reflects universalism, assuming that knowledge of children’s development determines what makes worthy practice, Damon (1998) reports that such grand, universalising systems are no longer viable. Similarly, Soto (in Hatch et al., 2002) recommends researchers and practitioners ‘pursue more liberal, liberating, democratic, humanizing, participatory, action driven, political, feminist, critically multicultural, decolonising perspectives’ (p. 450). Working with diverse perspectives is to be encouraged (Edwards, 2004; Grieshaber & Cannella, 2001), and happens by promoting the significance of both ‘the larger cultural context, and 41


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the immediate local context’ (Walsh, 2005), of the early childhood setting and the accompanying contextual beliefs and expectations. It is about recognising the function of multiple perspectives of culture and situation (Bruner, 1996; Rogoff, 2003) and understanding that human existence does not conform to a predetermined reality. The primacy psychology gives to individual cognition, in the process sidelining the complexity of sociocultural contexts for making meaning of who we are, who we have been, and who we might become, is to be challenged (Henriques, Hollway, Urwin, Venn, & Walkerdine, 1998/1984). Cognitive developmental theory privileges the construct of the individual over collective orientations, also privileging stereotypically male and deterministic assumptions that presume to know the mind of the child (Cannella, 2005). Henriques et al. (1998/1984) disturb such psychologically-based assumptions and associated self-understanding, challenging normative understandings of subjectivity through the notion of embodied subjects. They claim that psychology can renew itself only by engaging with ‘a multiple, relational subject not bounded by reason’ (p. xviii). However, despite the theoretical critique, several doctoral studies out of Aotearoa New Zealand suggest that teaching practices are resistant to change and that developmental traditions remain strongly influential (Dalli, 1999; Jordan, 2003; McLeod, 2002; Nuttall, 2004).

unravelling the weaving of Te Whāriki ~ generating matting towards mapping While Te Whāriki is presented as regular, linearly ordered weaving in 1996, May and Carr’s (2000) more recent metaphorical explanation of the whāriki alludes to complexity. In contrast to the ‘step’ model of the traditional developmental curriculum based on physical, intellectual, emotional and social skills, which dominated western curriculum models in the past, and which arguably lingers in early childhood practice, May and Carr say that as centres weave their own curriculum within conversational and planning spaces, a curriculum ‘spider web’ is created. In merging this spider web with a woven ‘tapestry of increasing intricacy, complexity and richness’ (Smith, 2003, p. 7) a rhizomatic mapping emerges. The woven mat now appears as a matting of complex possibilities, a curricular multiplicity continuously working to enrich children’s emerging understandings and intensities of (their) learning. In an earlier, tentative exploration (Sellers, M., 2005), I played with the idea of matting – echoing Deleuzian mapping (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) – as a way of interrupting the orderliness of the conventional weaving Te Whāriki represents. This idea of matting resonates with the metaphorical

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image Surtees (2003) presents of unruly paniculata, such as puawānanga16 (Aotearoa New Zealand native clematis) (Figure 5) and with tangled threads of felted fabric (Figure 6).

Figure 5: Puawānanga (Aotearoa New Zealand native clematis). (Author photo)

Figure 6: Felted fabric as matting – showing tangled threads. (Source: http://www.alchemyfibrearts.com/ userimages/procart13.htm)

Surtees (2003) unravels the woven mat as she shifts possibilities for Te Whāriki to include children’s sexuality, making visible children as sexual beings and including children whose parents refuse heteronormativity. She que(e)ries the principle of holistic development when the ‘weft that weaves’ (p. 146) the whāriki includes cognitive, social, physical, cultural and spiritual dimensions but excludes children’s developing sexuality. Without arguing with Carr and May’s (1993) metaphor of the four kauri trees used in the development of Te Whāriki – the four kauri trees being the guiding theorists Piaget, Erikson, Vygotsky and Bruner – or the rationale for using them to find a path through the forest of curriculum development, Surtees notes that the over reliance of developmental, structuralist and biologically-based theories at the expense of poststructural and humanities-based perspectives distorts our thinking about young children’s growth and learning. Using queer theory, she says that there is space in the whāriki for the weaving of alternative threads and suggests adding puawānanga (native clematis) to the forest to include the contribution of queer 16

Puawānanga (flower of the skies), one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s native Clematis species, adorns the upper layer of our native bush, trailing up forest trees.

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theorists: ‘Queering the whāriki in this way gives rise to endless possibilities as the previously unquestioned dominance of the kauri is disrupted and troubled by the unruly [puawānanga’s] weaving under, over and through the forest’ (Surtees, 2003, p. 150). The tangled network of puawānanga provides a visible, above-ground image not unlike the network of a biological rhizome that often exists out of sight underground although sometimes in a tangled matting above ground (e.g. kikuyu grass), so entangled that it is hard to see what is happening. The unruly puawānanga, while different, tells a similar story. Te Whāriki, as a metaphorical woven mat, depicts the orderly weaving of principles and strands into an objective construct, but it is possible to extend our reading of this complicated order (as in Deleuzo-Guattarian tracing) to include complex rhizomatic concepts (as in Deleuzo-Guattarian mapping). (Re)conceptualising early childhood curriculum as complex matting, as a milieu of becoming, chaotically a-centred traversed by processual lines of flight opens possibilities for uncovering interwoven systems that map unanticipated connections and enable a rhizomatic exploration of ways – including those not yet thought of – for (re)conceiving early childhood. Thinking of Te Whāriki as rhizomatous matting becomes a way for teachers, children and researchers to appear in different curricular spaces, spaces unconstrained by conventional linear ways of thinking and operating. In such spaces we can process through learning by continuously asking: What else exists in these spaces of learning? In this way, complex curricular understandings, particularly children’s, become visible. With their roots in one place and their stems wandering through the foliage of other plants, puawānanga are perhaps representative of a liminal space between arborescence and rhizomatic growth, between the firmly rooted tree (of knowledge) and the wandering~rooting~shooting~ amassing systems of rhizomatous matting (of curriculum as a milieu of becoming). While useful to seeing how rhizomatous matting works, the fixed rooted-ness of puawānanga is limiting, whereas multi-dimensional rhizomatic flow frees opening(s) (to) a multiplicity of possibilities. Thinking of curriculum as mapping a milieu of becoming is one such possibility.

~curriculum as (a) milieu(s)~ ‘From chaos, Milieus and Rhythms are born.’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 313, original italics) In rhizomatic thinking, the Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophical milieu embodies all three translations of ‘surroundings’, ‘medium (substance)’ and ‘middle’ (Massumi, 1987a, p. xvii). In (a) milieu(s), 44


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there are no beginnings or endings from which linear sequences derive, rather, middles or milieus work to intensify the embodied multidimensionality of thought and thinking. A milieu grows and overspills through flows that constantly radiate both outwards and inwards – ‘nomadic waves’ or ‘flows of deterritorialization’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 53) go from a centre to a periphery, at the same time the periphery falls back upon the centre and launches forth to a new centre in relation to a new periphery. In this way the milieu is continuously (re)constituted as it oscillates through a multiplicity of states of interior elements, exterior milieus, differential relations of intermediate milieus between interior and exterior conditions, as well as through associated milieus of energy sources. As children play – a curricular performance or curricular performativity – their personal interiority operates with an exteriority of their games, constantly (re)negotiating storylines of intermediate milieus, and always in relation to other children playing games nearby, constituting energy sources of an associated milieu. In this intensifying activity, there is an interlacing of ‘active, perceptive, and energetic characteristics in a complex fashion’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 51) as all kinds of milieus ‘slide in relation to one another, over another’ (p. 313). Relative to curriculum, these rhizomatic milieus can be understood as sliding among: children and adults in reciprocal relations; theories of play and children’s spontaneous games; discourses of learning and teaching; children’s social(ising) performance; children’s and adults’ negotiations of power-fullness; children mapping their playing and playing their learning; historic curriculum theory and contemporary discourses represented in/as Te Whāriki; and, discourses of children and childhood of various era. Through ‘transcoding’ or ‘transduction’ one milieu is constituted or dissipated in another, one atop the other, one alongside the other. The work of the kinds of milieu listed above does not stay within specific boundaries; any one is able and likely to (e)merge from/with (any of) the others. For example: as historic discourses of childhood affect children’s expressions of power-fullness, and adult interpretations of these; or, as theories of play affect understandings of children’s spontaneous games. The games children play are of chaotically complex milieus (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 51). From psychological and sociological perspectives, a game could be interpreted as a platform for individual children to develop skills for operating in the wider social world, but rhizomatic thinking works to illuminate it as a milieu of interiority, exteriority, intermediary spaces and associated energy sources. These interlacing characteristics of children’s games include the storylines narrated by the children as they play (children often talk about what they are doing), the spaces of (mis)understandings among players about the game, which on one plane are circumscribed by the proposed but contingent storyline and on another are reflected in a liminal space with/in/through 45


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which characters emerge or fade away. More of the milieu of the game includes the players, their play-full activity and their energy forces, the physical territory of the game and the surrounding environment, including natural resources and material artefacts. There is also the imaginative territory of the game, the teachers and children nearby, and, possibly more. All this, remembering that expressions and movement of the milieu are irreducible, as everything is always already chaotically becoming with/in/of/through the children’s playing of games. Deleuze and Guattari (1987) describe the chaos and associated rhythms of milieus thus: Chaos is the ‘milieu of all milieus’, and while milieus are open to chaos, it is a relationship with rhythm that subverts any risk of collapse: rhythm of the liminal spaces between milieus; rhythm that co-ordinates heterogenous ‘space-times’; rhythm that ‘ties together critical moments’. (p. 313) In this understanding, rhythm is difference, not repetition; rhythm is the continual and continuous mo(ve)ments between, between things, intermezzo, interbeing (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 25). What often presents as chaos is ‘glued’ with rhythm, rhythms of children constantly negotiating storylines and play spaces of the game, coming and going through interiors of the game and exteriorities of other games being played nearby and other play spaces occupied by other children’s play(ing). Thinking ‘milieu’ and ‘rhythm’ opens understandings of curriculum and opens possibilities for understanding young children’s workings of curriculum. The imaginary games children play happen within milieus, are milieus and illuminate milieus at work, becoming a curricular performance. They weave strands of storylines through their games and games of others, all intermingling in a milieu of ‘chaos’, spaces open within/among rhizomatic tangle of characters and roles as they play out the storyline and explore socialising connections. Sometimes their play(ing) is subverted, dying in one place but irrupting somewhere else. They feed off their collective imaginings and those of games and children nearby. The forces of the play(ing), the games and their interrelationships affect and are affected by other play and relationships around them, also the programme and their physical territory of the setting and its culture of operating. The milieu of the curricular performance becomes curricular performance of the milieu. In the linking plateau of Children performing curriculum complexly, three games illuminate the complex interrelations of the milieu(s); of the storylines of the games, the play activity, the relationships among the children and their curricular performance. In another linking plateau, Rhizo~mapping furthers this idea of curriculum as milieu.

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Children performing curriculum complexly …we live curriculum before we describe it. The event and the thought about the event are never simultaneous, never identical…Curriculum as lived and curriculum as described amble along, their paths sometimes parallel, often not, occasionally in moments of insight intersecting. (Grumet, 1999, p. 24)

opening the plateau How do young children make curriculum work? In this plateau I explore children’s doing, working, happening and noticing experiences within the spontaneous games they play, opening (to) possibilities for envisaging and envisioning curriculum differently. My attention is with understanding children’s desire as they do their learning in early childhood settings, moving beyond the conventional conversations about the what (content) and the how (processes) of curriculum. Resonating with Gough (2006a), I work towards incipiently different ‘possibilities for imaginative thought’ to provoke ‘ethical action’ (p. xiv) around young children’s understandings of themselves and their learning and adult ways of conceptualising curriculum. Using the expressions of young children themselves to illuminate a machinic assemblage (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) of children~curriculum~games, I work to receive young children’s play(ing) of their curricular performance into the reconceiving curriculum conversation.

the complexity of curricular performativity Complex interrelationships around play and curriculum made visible through the spontaneous games children play come into view within the data of this research. As children perform their understandings of curriculum they provide opportunities for enhancing adult views of curriculum, for re(con)ceiving children in curriculum. To illuminate the complexity at play in the children’s play and their playing out of their curricular understandings, I use images from a four minute snippet of data to tell the stories of each of three games that are happening simultaneously and discuss intersecting lines of flight towards understanding young children’s curricular performance. The three games, each influenced by children’s popular culture, are referred to as Goldilocks, the chocolate factory and muddy monsters. These games, singularly and together, ebb and flow, with pauses and forward rushes, ‘proceeding from the middle, through the middle, coming and going rather than starting and finishing’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 25) sometimes blocking and 47


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sometimes being blocked, all constituting intensities (p. 152) of the play(ing) plateau(s). Linkages appear as lines of flight intersect, as the play(ing) traverses the plateau of each and every game through smooth moments, through dis/inter/ruptions, through irruptions. In untangling the threads of games, they are discussed separately, but only for ease of understanding the inherent complexity. They are separated in the sense of untwisting, by force, the threads in the middle of a strand of rope, for example, so that when the force is relinquished, the rope returns to its entwined figuration. However, this is not to suggest that any sort of linearity (as in a single strand of rope) existed in the playing of these games, rather, it is an attempt to explain the twisting backwards that I needed to undergo to negotiate the complexity of the play space. It is in the spaces between the threads of the games, the liminal spaces of the twisting backwards, that synchronicity of the games is illuminated and that we can see the complexity of the children’s curricular performance. I also work to generate a ‘group map’ of the inherent complexity, illuminating phenomena of massification (…and…and…and… of the monster game), leadership (within the choc factory game) and gendered-ness (Goldilocks game) through a Deleuzo-Guattarian reading. The three games both work for themselves and also continue to make rhizome in the shadows. So, to map the movement and gestures of the games and the players – the intersecting lines of flight part of the conversation – I ‘combine several maps’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 14). That is, I put tracings of all three games onto a map, bringing one into several into one again, generating a ‘very diverse map-tracing, rhizome-root assemblages, with variable coefficients of deterritorialization’ (p. 15).

introducing the chocolate factory In this opening set of images, I illuminate the activity of a group of six boys playing a game about the movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, noting that the snippet is from a game that lasted over ninety minutes. It was the dominating activity in the sandpit, with a changing group of boys variously involved in making chocolate in Willy Wonka’s factory. The water trough is in the sandpit and contains a muddy sand-water mix (chocolate) and, currently Callum, Rylie and Nic are working with a tray and buckets of muddy sand (more chocolate) positioned on a low wall nearby. Kane, pretending to be Willy Wonka, is attempting to manage the chocolate-making enterprise and it is this leadership role that I work with here.

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Storyboard 1: Chocolate Factory

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The chocolate factory ~ ’We’re making chocolatey yes yes yes yes yes’ Typical to the spontaneous games the children play, the children are operating rhizomatically, flowing with both their own and the collective understandings of how the game should progress. Such rhizomatic flow makes any leadership role – assumed, claimed or elected – a challenging activity. The rhizomatically flowing leadership illustrated here is a deconstruction of children's ways of disrupting authoritarian modernist views that see leadership as absolute. Although Kane may have desired absolute control, he manages the fluctuating interest in his being in charge in a style that is distinctively his own. He works the role to suit his interpretation of the game and to optimise its continuity. For example, when Rylie and Callum tussle over the use of a particular trowel, Kane moves to ensure they stay focussed on what matters, namely the chocolate making (images 4 & 5). Callum smooths the top of the sand in the tray with the back of his rounded trowel. 54


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Rylie: No! This is the flattening out thing! Callum (grabbing at Rylie’s flat trowel): I need the flattening out thing for a minute. Rylie: No-o! Callum: I need it! Rylie: No! Kane walks up behind them: C’mon, let’s see about that chocolate…akkagagga… Satisfied that they are on task, Kane returns to making odd noises. Unsurprisingly, there is a need for some kind of consensus throughout children’s games to ensure the game continues. Achieving this may involve dispute and Kane’s approach seemed to be as much about progressing the game as mediation between the players. As unprofessed but seemingly acknowledged leader, Kane assures himself everything is under (his) control, through his tone of C’mon and through drawing attention to the task of seeing to the chocolate. This seems to be a (subtle or not so subtle?) way of assuring himself of his control, ensuring the chocolate-makers stay focused and keeping the plot on (his) track. However, any control he may desire is immediately mediated by referring to the plot, it is de/territorialised by his own understandings of the game as he promotes his supervisory role by turning attention to the chocolate. He seems to have reached the point ‘where it is no longer of any importance whether one says I. [He is] no longer [himself]’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p.3). As ‘leader’ he (e) merges from/with/in the game. Also evident is the changing flow of leadership. While the dispute over the flat trowel did not disrupt the game, what it does signal is Rylie’s input into the progress of the game, perhaps reminding Kane that while he may be Willy Wonka, the chocolate makers are also concerned with how this should happen. Any perceived leadership role is likely to change without warning, but becomes easier to resolve when rhizomatic flow is accepted, as it appears to be by the children. While Kane is forthcoming in exercising his leadership role, he is unperturbed about the responses when he calls to the boys who are mixing (images 6 & 7); Callum and Rylie continue with their mixing, while Nic responds to Kane and grabs a handful of sand. However, Kane does not acknowledge either response, neither Callum and Rylie’s ignoring him nor Nick’s acquiescence. Unfazed, he maintains his position on the sandpit edging, yelling to no-one in particular (image 8) to check if anyone else wants to make chocolate. There is no obvious reply, but from Callum’s next action we can infer a response, implicitly supportive of Kane’s announcement of his assumed leadership and of the chocolate-making enterprise. Callum affirms the storyline that Kane has been announcing, while publicly announcing his input into progressing the game, claiming the leadership 55


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for a moment, as Rylie had earlier. Callum looks at Josh (who is relatively new to the scene) and shouts at the top of his voice (image 9). Then, the leadership again flows rhizomatically, from Kane to Callum back to Kane, who yells in the direction of Callum and Rylie (images 14 & 15). In this moment there is a conversational tussle between Callum and Kane. It is impossible to tell from Kane’s intonation on the soundtrack whether his yelling is intended as statement or inquiry, but there is a sense that it is both, that he is sending out a query while simultaneously demanding acquiescence. In this sense, he is playing with differing aspects of the leadership role, suggesting an understanding that as well as his (non)resistance to the leadership flow, the leadership is not a fixed or linearly progressing activity; the energy circulates, it ebbs and flows. ‘What is important is not whether the flows are “One or multiple”…[rather] there is a collective assemblage…one inside the other and both plugged into an immense outside that is a multiplicity’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 23); in this moment a leadership multiplicity. Kane’s leadership is all-at-once acknowledged, supported and challenged by, implicitly given over to and shared in all its complexity with Callum, and Rylie also. In the closing moments of this data snippet, Kane’s leadership becomes an activity of protecting his territory from invaders. The girls, who have been playing nearby throughout (images 2, 12, 14, 16, 17) are now apparently too close to Kane for his liking. Two seconds after image 17, the soundtrack records Kane growling loudly at the girls before chasing after them as they flee the territory, of their game and the sandpit (images 21-27). As Kane stumbles~waddles after the girls, flopping his head from side-to-side, his gait evokes images of Willy Wonka from Tim Burton’s (2005) movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which Willy Wonka walked with a stick and an odd bouncy stride. It thus appears that Kane’s announcement of an idea was a Willy Wonka-type way of chasing the girls from the physical and imaginative territory of his game. The chocolate-makers, however, seem to take little notice of the chase occurring around the edge of their factory, apart from Alec watching the girls race behind the trough (image 20); and a few seconds later (image 26) as he is crouched digging in the sand, this time watching Kane run in (images 26 & 27). Callum may also be aware of the chase as amidst the commotion he trips over the handle of the trolley (images 26 & 27) having successfully avoided it several times throughout the game as he gathered water from the trough (images 1, 11, 18 & 20). For Kane, expelling the girls from the physical and imaginative territory of the game is a serious exercise. He is serious in his intent and also in playing it out in character from the moment he growls at the girls (image 17) until he chases after them (images 21-28) in his deliberately awkward, stumbling gait and returns 56


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(images 29 & 29a) satisfied that his territory is free from invaders. If his chocolate workers had not explicitly acknowledged his leadership to any great extent, the girls fleeing the territory were doing so – explicitly in physical terms as they race away from Kane and implicitly in terms of supporting Kane’s authoritarian role in the chocolate factory game; explicitly as they flee the territory of the sandpit and implicitly as they flee the territory of the game. In this moment, Kane’s leadership has flowed beyond the performance of the chocolate factory in that he utilises the girls’ presence to affirm his leadership as he wanders rhizomatically through the game. As expected with rhizome, in that the ‘fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, “and…and…and…”’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 23), there is another dimension of complexity about the chocolate factory game. It is therefore not surprising that within the game a monster game emerges and Kane, as Willy Wonka, segues into monster.

introducing an (e)merging monster game With/in and around the physical and imaginative territory of the chocolate factory game, there are intersecting lines of flight as other games emerge from within and merge with the chocolate factory game. A muddy monster game, involving Nic, Josh, Alec and Kane, is one such game. As this snippet opens (images 2 & 3), Nic is working as one of the chocolate-makers and Alec is playing alongside with a digger. Kane is prowling around the water trough positioned in the sandpit chanting and making strange sounds. Josh wanders into the scene a little later. To begin with Kane presents as Willy Wonka, but a(nother) rhizomatic reading presents him as emerging monster. This monster character segues through various players as the plot evolves and in the process illuminates the children playing out their power-fullness alongside and amongst each other. Whether the monster theme that emerges is an aside, an entertaining deviation or a common part of such plots is incidental. What is interesting is that it arises and that it works to enhance the chocolate factory game and that in the process of playing out the monster theme, the children enact a complex understanding of the Deleuzo-Guattarian conjunctive ‘and…and…and…’ (Deleuze & Guattari , 1987, p. 25). Note: The numbering of the images of the chocolate factory storyboard now becomes a marker for all three games in play during this four-minute play episode, so the following images in the monster game storyboard are numbered to coincide with those in the chocolate factory storyboard. Where an image that appears in the chocolate factory storyboard is used in the monster game storyboard, the number stays as 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 etc. To keep the storyboards aligned, some numbers are missing, e.g., the (e)merging monster game becomes evident in the midst of the chocolate factory game, after the storyboard sequence of the latter has opened, so the first monster game storyboard image is #2. There are also numbers inserted, where other images are significant to the activity of the monster game. For example, between images 8 and 9 in the chocolate factory storyboard, there is significant activity in the monster game; this activity is seen in images 8a and 8b. 57


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Storyboard 2: Monster Game

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the monster game ~ ‘Whaaah! Bad muddy monster!’ As children play out their games in the data – as they perform their curricular understandings – unexpected themes emerge, unexpected turns are taken, with these themes and turns becoming part of the game or lines of flight to follow. There may be resistance and occasionally a player will abandon both game and playmates, but in various ways these lines of flight are utilised to progress the game. In the monster game, which segues through the chocolate factory, the monster character is played out by a stream of players, through the interactions of Kane, Nic, Josh and Alec. In the process of expressing their power-fullness as monster characters relative to each other, they find ways of involving themselves in others’ storylines and ways of involving others in their own storylines. The lines of flight they follow become ways of including other players and (their) ideas, enriching, extending and progressing the game through an understanding of and…and…and…. The monster is not a fixed, stable character, but flows from one to another – through Kane through Nic through Josh and Alec through Kane. A linear understanding of curriculum is thus disrupted in that the character/role did not disappear when the player disappeared. For example, monster-Josh carries on from where monster-Nic leaves off. Their curricular performance also destabilises binary understandings such as monster|victim, goodies|baddies, insider|outsider as they each segue through all of these, at various times being monster, victim, goodie, baddie, insider, outsider. As the snippet opens, Kane is wandering about apparently in an imaginative world of his own, making strange sounds. Although, at first glance, he seems detached from managing the chocolate factory enterprise, he actually isn’t, as seen when he moves in to view Callum and Rylie’s dispute over the flat trowel. As he immediately returns to making odd noises, it appears that he may be both Willy Wonka and becoming-monster – and…and…and…. Another becoming-monster character evolving in this curricular performance of and…and…and… is the role played by Nic (images 3, 4 & 5), who also seems distanced from the chocolate factory even though he is mixing the sand and water with his hands. But, like Kane, Nic is obviously engaged in the chocolate factory plot as well – apparent when Nic is the only one to actively respond to Kane yelling, to grab a chocolate. Nic is the only one to grab a handful of sand from Kane’s bucket, as requested/invited. However, Nic has something else in mind to do with his muddied hands. Nic is scooping up handfuls of wet sand. (Partly obscured by Rylie in the red shirt, image 6). Then, suddenly, he rears up in monster mode with his hands at shoulder height, fingers splayed and slightly curled (image 8a) and confronts Josh (image 8b). In this moment, the presence of a monster, a supposedly negative force, intensifies the play plateau, affirming the game’s progression – the unfolding plot, characters and roles being played are supported. If Kane was shaping up to becoming the leading 62


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monster figure, he is now upstaged by this new monster-Nic who confronts Josh, a newcomer to the scene. Nic on the periphery of the chocolate-making becomes insider in the monster game and confronts outsider Josh. But, undaunted, Josh stands his ground, which opens a way for him to become insider as well, as they each display and express their singular power-fullness. Similar to Nic usurping Kane’s expression of power-fullness by assuming a ‘bigger’ monster role, Josh is challenging Nic’s power-fullness by refusing to back off. Josh has now become a power-full player as well. And, while expressing their singular power-fullness, together they become another force in that this emerging monster game challenges the physical and imaginative territory, which until now has been largely occupied by Kane’s chocolate-making enterprise. With this monster thread emerging, if Kane has any ambition to be sole controller of the territory and of the chocolate making enterprise, this is now disrupted. But, is Nic as monster assured of ongoing power-fullness? As he moves away from Josh, in search of another victim, Josh is raising his hands in monster mode, fingers splayed and slightly curled (images 9 & 10). This is the moment that Callum shouts at him, Yes! Willy Wonka and chocolate fact’ry’s here! In the chocolate factory interpretation, it is easy to assume that Josh is raising his hands in defence. But, the monster interpretation opens to other possibilities, namely, that Josh is not concerned about Callum’s announcement, at close proximity, deafeningly loud, directed at him…and…that he is interested in becoming-monster, to either play alongside Nic …and… to meet any further challenges from Nic head-on. For now, it looks as if Josh as becoming-monster is preparing to move into monster mode himself. Alec seems to be engaging with the monster theme as well as he becomes intent on muddying his hands. He has moved from playing with his digger (image 8a) to observing the interaction between Nic and Josh (image 8b) to dunking his hands in the trough (images 9 – partly obscured by Rylie – & 10) to rubbing his hands in the sand at his feet (image11 – partly obscured by Rylie). Nic tries to attract Alec’s attention, but failing to do so, turns back to Josh, seated in the deck (image 11) and rushes him, hands raised. Nic: Muddy monster! Josh stares but doesn’t move. Moments later, Nic leaves the scene, his monster character perhaps thwarted by Alec’s and then Josh’s passive resistance. By refusing a victim response, both have hindered Nic progressing his monster role, although all could have agreed to play together. So Josh’s power-fullness seems to have overruled Nic’s. Alternatively, Nic is expressing his power-fullness in another way, by 63


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choosing not to continue. In a rhizomatic reading this is and…and…and…, it embraces all possible interpretations rather than one or another. Josh and Alec then proceed to further this and...and…and…understanding. Josh becomes leading monster and moves to progress the game by chasing after Alec, who, although raising his muddied hands at Josh, turns (image 15a) and runs away (images 15b & 15c). Perhaps this monster chase is a tacitly collaborative interlude with little concern about who is chaser and chased as long as a chase happens. Josh doesn’t seem to mind whom he is chasing and as Alec returns to the trough to muddy his hands, Josh hisses at an outside observer (image 18). His targets expended, he sits on the deck (image 20). But Kane has now adopted a monster mode as he goes after the girls (images 21-25) and when Josh notices this, he rushes towards Kane-as-monster-chasing-the-girls (image 25c), although Kane remains focussed on the girls. Josh-as-monster now fades and Kane resumes as leading monster in the closing moments of the data snippet. Like a ‘stream…that undermines its banks and picks up speed in the middle’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 23), the fluidity of the monster role – of who plays the part and how – not only allows their power-fullness to flow amongst themselves, it also progresses the monster game and provides another way for Kane to exercise his Willy Wonka-type leadership. The characters slip and slide from one game to the other, each progressing the other. Even when rejected, for example, when players refuse to act as victims, the play is progressed – when Nic rejected Josh’s refusal to become victim and left the game, the play continued in his absence. The game was not disrupted, it merely took another turn as Josh, Alec and Kane flowed with lines of flight, expressing their powerfullness, singularly and together. Of interest is Nic, Josh’s and Alec’s peripheral involvement in the chocolate-making that opens possibilities for flowing together with/through (an)other line(s) of flight. A behaviourist reading, and perhaps a sociological one, may say their lack of involvement caused them to create a disturbance to make a space for themselves in the chocolate factory game. However, a generative rhizomatic reading views both Nic and Josh as having the space(s) to imagine and perform other threads to the storyline. Their imaginations flowed together in a line of flight, a line of flight that enabled them both to work as protagonist and antagonist all-at-once. When Nic (as protagonist) rears up as a monster (image 8a), Alec skirts around him en route to the trough, and Josh, otherwise unoccupied, is the only one left in Nic’s path. Josh does not acquiesce, instead playing an adversarial role. Even though he steps back, he demands that Nic back off (image 8b), signalling his opposition (as antagonist) to Nic’s monster character. But in doing so, it can also be said that Josh became protagonist and as Nic then turned away from him, Nic became antagonist. It was not that there was any actual opposition to the monster character, rather monster64


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Nic and the emerging monster-Josh played appositionally17 with the monster character, illuminating the complexity of the activity unfolding. So, a monster game emerges through Nic, Josh’s and Alec’s interactions – they engage with the line of flight, juxtaposed, playing out their powerfullness as, in close proximity, they each adopt various ways of becoming monster. Disrupting the claim that behaviourism would make about children’s play following unidirectional patterns, these children’s performance of curriculum shows the multidimensionality of their understandings. In this rhizomatic reading, Kane, Nic, Josh and Alec segue through the monster character and the monster morphs through their singular and collective renditions of the role. There is no sense of a dichotomous relationship of either/or-ness, of a monster game and a separate chocolate factory, of goodies or baddies. It is about both – and…and…and…. The monster game emerges to intensify the play plateau – until then dominated by the chocolate factory game – becoming and illuminating other dimensions of the complexity in/of/at (the) play. Intersecting with the chocolate factory game as a complex activity, in which Kane, Callum, Rylie and Nic enact leadership rhizomatically, is the monster game, in which Nic, Josh, Alec and Kane express their emerging power-fullness and demonstrate their understanding of and…and…and…. The plots both evolve as the game progresses and evolve to progress the game. With/in and around the games, rhizome is working and continues to work. I now turn to the girls’ Goldilocks game…furthering and…and…and…of a rhizomatically embodied gendered performance.

introducing Goldilocks The sandpit is an area reportedly dominated by boys and their games (MacNaughton, 2000) and when girls do enter the area, my observation during the data generation is that they often play cooking-type games on the periphery of the boy’s activity. My intention is not to play into the binary of girl|boy or to dichotomise their activity, rather it is to illuminate the complexity of gendered relations played out and made visible through the girls’ engagement with their Goldilocks game (See Davies, 2003). As the data snippet opens, Libby, Lee and Alice are focused on digging although this soon becomes a cake-making exercise and then segues into a Goldilocks game. In the same way that the boys are playing out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Libby, Lee and Alice are playing with the culturally-familiar Goldilocks and the Three Bears story and this draws them into traditionally gendered roles. The girls play at being traditional girl – passive, weak, victim,

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Opposition signals ‘either/or’; apposition signals ‘and…and…and…’

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home-maker – as they define and narrate the actual and imaginative spaces of their game. Much of the time they acquiesce to this image of girl, but they also break through those traditional boundaries as Alice becomes guardian of their physical space and as they all work in the closing moments of the snippet to progress the imaginative space of their game outside the territory of the boys’ games and outside the sandpit. On the surface it appears that through this Goldilocks game the girls are playing out a traditionally gendered image of girl as passive, weak and victim, but a generative rhizo reading entangled with/in shadows underground offers another. I suggest their flight from Kane and the sandpit can be understood as an expression of their power-fullness as ‘strong girls,’ with victim~strong girl becoming an embodied performance. Note: The numbering of the Goldilocks storyboard images follows the pattern of the monster game storyboard above.

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Storyboard 3: Goldilocks

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the Goldilocks game ~ ‘We’re playing Goldilocks!’ Having selected their tools by colour and begun digging, Libby, Lee and Alice soon encounter trouble with operating in the space they have chosen. They begin relatively close to the chocolatemaking activity (image 2), but as soon as they start to fill the bucket hanging unattended from the pulley, the boys move them on. Apart from Lee’s momentarily defiant gesture of grabbing hold of the bucket on the pulley and grinning (image 2a), they acquiesce to the boys’ demands by finding another bucket and moving further away. Their digging then turns into a cake-making exercise (image 2b) and the Goldilocks theme emerges. However, the physical territory of their game is still not settled and they relocate to establish their home by the back fence (image 2c). While they seem unconcerned about playing their game in close proximity to the boys, they move to the back fence, further away from the boys’ activity. From their new home, they announce their storyline, telling me about their game and confirming details with each other (images 5a, 5b, 5c). They are now secure enough in their space to engage in conversation about the presence of the boys, which now seems to be a concern, although more in relation to the imaginative space of their game than the physical space they occupy. What Lee envisages hiding from is not altogether clear. It could be that she thinks they need to hide from the boys in an attempt to protect the physical and imaginative territory of their Goldilocks game…and…it could be that they are pretending they are the bears and need to hide so Goldilocks can make her appearance. Given the challenges from the boys to their occupation of the physical space and given their desire to progress the game, it is feasible that they are responding both to being girls hiding from the boys –by the back fence they are, for the most part, out of the boys’ line of sight – and bears hiding from Goldilocks –in the imaginative space of the game if they say they are out of sight of Goldilocks, they are. In this rhizomatic reading, albeit (im)partial, such simultaneity is considered to be generative rather than contradictory. Libby seems less concerned about the boys knowing what they are doing as she publicly calls Goldilocks into existence. Alice is now assuming a guardian role as she acknowledges that Goldilocks is to come despite the boys being there and, somewhat contradictorily to her previous comment, Lee both accepts the boys’ presence but denies they will have any affect on their game – …but they’re not Goldilocks. While earlier submitting to the boys moving them on, they are now standing strong together (image 5c). In these opening moments of the snippet the girls primarily define and narrate their physical and imaginative spaces of their game, but it is becoming obvious that Alice is also defender of their 73


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space, similar to Kane’s defending the chocolate factory space. Alice has been standing guard in their home at the back of the sandpit and surveying the scene since Libby announced they were playing Goldilocks. Of the three, Alice is probably most aware of the boys who, one way or another, are attempting to commandeer the whole sandpit area. Namely: Nic has passed through their territory, clapping his muddied, soon-to-be monster hands (image 5b); Kane is overseeing the chocolate factory activity (image 5c); and, Alec has pushed his digger in a loop in front of their home (image 5d). Determining whether Nic, Kane and Alec were aware of the girls’ difficulty in claiming territory in the sandpit and/or whether they were continuing to challenge this, is incidental to the rhizoanalysis; the point is that Alice is attentive to their movements. In this guardianship role, Alice has pushed traditional passive girl aside to become a proactive protector of their territory – she suddenly runs towards Kane as he makes one of his announcements (image 5e) and jumps decidedly to a halt to watch him (image 5f). Although she does not end up very close to him, her jump is close enough to startle him in his announcement, which stops midstream. She seems to be challenging his verbal invasion of the Goldilocks game space; in her jump she both alerts Kane to her perception of the chocolate-making game being a potential threat to the Goldilocks game…and…she presents herself as a threat to Kane. She now claims the space as Goldilocks territory and ensures their safety as they progress the game. Under Alice’s guardianship, Libby and Lee meanwhile have been preoccupied with making what was the cake but is now porridge (image 7a), with Lee gathering water from the trough alongside the boys (image 7b). Their game is progressing smoothly. They continue to discuss their Goldilocks storyline, at this moment seeming to be more intent in talking about what they are going to do rather then actually doing it. It appears repetitive, but they are confirming their understandings of how to progress the game (image 16). More confident in the space, Libby, Lee and Alice have moved from the far edge of the sandpit to a spot quite close to Kane (image 16), who is standing on the edging by the pulley. Although he seems pre-occupied with his own activity (image 17), his suddenly loud response to Libby’s closeness indicates he is very aware of the Goldilocks activity. Unaware that the girls’ territory was about to be compromised yet again, I panned the camera away as Libby started to speak, back to the boys at the chocolate-making activity, so where she places the porridge bowl is impossible to ascertain. But, it is obviously too close to Kane for his liking and the girls apparently accept his view as there is a gasp and a squeal, signalling a hasty exit. As they run off, in the chaos that follows, on the surface it looks like the demise of the Goldilocks game, that the girls have again acquiesced to the boys’ claim on the territory thus ending their game. 74


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But are they fleeing the boys’ territory and does their flight mark the end of the game? My generative reading suggests otherwise, that in this moment of crisis a new line of flight emerges. If we consider that Kane has morphed into bear, their flight with Kane chasing them progresses the game albeit before the girls were ready for it, that is, before they had narrated their version of this part of the traditional storyline. While they never explicitly identify their roles, in mixing the porridge, they likely imagine themselves as the bears, but in fleeing the sandpit, it seems they have all become Goldilocks. In this role, they are undoubtedly fleeing Kane’s space, but not his chocolate factory space, rather his growly bear space. Had the intent been to escape the chocolate factory space, Libby would have abandoned the bowl of porridge and chosen the shortest and easiest route of escape by jumping over the edging near where they were standing and running away from the sandpit. Instead, Libby leading and carrying the bowl of porridge, their actual flight processes through the sandpit (image 19) as they race behind the trough (image 20), retrace their steps (image 25a), then turn back in the direction they were first going (image 25b). Given that the girls, until now, have largely acquiesced to the boys’ desires to dominate the sandpit with their chocolate factory enterprise and the monster game, at first glance it appears they are continuing to do so. However, my rhizomatic reading, (im)partially challenged by Davies’ (2003) call to learn to think beyond the male|female binary, is that to intensify the game to their satisfaction, they need to leave the sandpit area – the home of the bears – and race off through the imaginative ‘woods’ that the playground represents. Thus, if they had exited the scene via the shortest, easiest route, they could be perceived to have become actual victims of the boys and of their Goldilocks game – a Deleuzian reading considers flight as a creative response (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 55) – but escaping the space in the way that they did, they become virtual victims fleeing the imaginative territory of their game. But, is there any difference to the actuality and virtuality of these victim roles? I would suggest both yes and no – that the actual and the virtual are intertwined and their difference and sameness resides in the liminal space between. That is, the virtual is played out in the actual world, the virtual being an extension of, and feeding into the actual…and…the actual lived experience is (re)lived in the virtual or imaginative world of the game, the lived experience informing the virtual, imaginative space of the game. So, determining where the game is situated in any moment – in the actual or virtual worlds is confounded by it being all-at-once in both. Had the game ‘ended’ in conventional terms, then the girls could be perceived as victims of the boys and of their own game. But the game continued – ambiguously in both actual and virtual worlds, as (a) panicked flight. Continuing to disrupt the conventional notion of victim, games usually continue in some form, if not in the moment, later. 75


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(Re)turning to the moment, their panic seems to be chaotic in terms of them being in a state of utter confusion and disorder, with Libby unable to decide which way to go. But considering chaos as reflecting the complexity of the moment, her state of panic only appears random as she responds to this new situation. In terms of continuing the storyline, the chaos was necessary. When Libby is surprised by Kane’s growl, it is not an event she had anticipated (yet) in the narration of the storyline. As she rushes one way and then another and then back again, dropping the porridge bowl is of no concern as without it she runs more easily to escape the bear. They all become Goldilocks, enacting a flight from the bears that no script or actor could better as they tacitly co-opt Kane into a growly bear role. Kane goes after them and his gait is bear-like; he is lumbering, not oddly, but with style (image 26). I work with a Deleuzo-Guattarian (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) understanding that a territorial assemblage can gather forces, at times precipitating a sudden confrontation or departure that brings on a ‘movement of absolute deterritorialization: “Goodbye, I’m leaving and I won’t be back”’ (p. 327). Thus, my reading is that their seemingly traditionally gendered performance becomes an expression of their power-fullness as strong girls, not weak, victimised girls. Libby, Lee and Alice appear to be victims in the traditional image of girl, but I suggest they are embodied in this victim role to satisfy the traditional Goldilocks storyline and to enhance their game. They engage with/in de~territorialising. As the territory of their game connected with the territory of others, a line of flight emerged enabling the preservation of their territory. Preservation of their territory in this moment meant relocating themselves as characters in their game (they fled), relocating the physical space of the game (moving out of the sandpit area) and relocating the actual storyline of the game (Goldilocks morphed into a game of strong girls). This reading affirms the positivity of the children’s desire – not as determination but as affect (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) – their flight not reflecting any lack or negativity. Rather, the children were constantly (re)constituting the powerfullness of their subjectivity through de~territorialising their game and themselves. In their flight, they de~territorialised themselves, they de~territorialised the traditional Goldilocks storyline and they de~territorialised the playspace they were operating in. This Deleuzo-Guattarian affective reading sees such flight – physically exiting the sandpit and following a line of flight with/in the storyline – as functional, productive and expressive of the force or power-fullness of their desires as female subjects. In the following quotation (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) drawing on ethology, flights within milieu are perceived as conquests or creations. Since [any] milieu always confronts a milieu of exteriority with which the animal is engaged and in which it takes necessary risks, a line of flight must be preserved to enable the animal to regain its associated milieu when danger appears. A second kind of line of flight arises when the 76


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associated milieu is rocked by blows from the exterior, forcing the animal to

abandon it and

strike up an association with new portions of exteriority, this time leaning on its interior milieus like fragile crutches …the animal is more a fleer than a fighter, but its flights are also conquests, creations. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 55, original italics; underline added) To link this to the Goldilocks girls’ flight from the sandpit, I re-write the above quotation, openly using phrases of the original. I consider that the milieu here is constituted by the children, both girls and boys, the physical territory they are playing in (sandpit) and the imaginative territory (storylines of games) that is being played out: Any milieu, such as the players, storyline and territory of the Goldilocks game always confronts a milieu of exteriority with which the children engage. In this moment, the milieu of exteriority is Kane, playing Willy Wonka~monster, the storylines and other players of the boys’ games. The girls’ engagement has been with creating a space to play alongside the boys and guarding that space. Ensuring their well-being within the space – when Alice jumps Kane and ensuring access to the water – has necessitated the girls taking risks. But lines of flight also needed to be preserved to ensure the girls’ physical and imaginative territory stayed safe, regardless of the boys’ activity. They first relocated to the back fence, distancing themselves from the chocolate factory and the necessity to take another line of flight arises when the milieu of their game is subjected to blows from the exterior. These blows are marked by Kane’s growl and his expression of power-fullness as WillyWonka~monster and now, it appears, as bear. The girls take the option of abandoning the physical space, the sandpit, and strike up an association with new portions of exteriority as they flee into another part of the playground, this time leaning on its interior milieus like fragile crutches. The fragility of their storyline is illuminated as the storyline segues away from Goldilocks and the sandpit to erupt in another space later. The girls have opted to flee rather than fight, but in a Deleuzo-Guattarian reading, their flight is their creation and a conquest. Some of the milieu, indeed the Goldilocks milieu itself, may have been abandoned, but another was territorialised, that is, de~territorialisation. In this sense, playing victim then becomes an expression of the power-fullness of their gendered understandings of themselves. The girls project the kind of understanding, ‘in which all sorts of hybrids are engendered in a joyful play of creative mutations’ (Braidotti, 1996, p. 313) as they mutate the storyline by calling the bear into existence and then co-opting Kane (as bear) as their reason to flee. Braidotti might call this expression of their emerging subjectivity a ‘line of evasion from the morbid mutual dependence of feminine and masculine’ (p. 313), but maybe she would see Libby, Lee and Alice as ‘nomadic subject[s] of collectively negotiated trajectories’ (p. 314). As part of a further response to whether following the traditional Goldilocks storyline exacerbated any images of gendered weakness, I cannot ignore how the game processed after this snippet – they 77


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went on to become ‘strong girls’ (their description of themselves), ‘saving’ (their expression again) Ani from Kane who continued his storyline as bear~monster in the playground beyond the sandpit. Inevitably, their segue into strong girls colours my reading of them as victim. My reading is thus (no) more or less (im)partial and (im)plausible. Victim~strong girl becomes an embodied performance and opens spaces of possibilities for Libby, Lee and Alice’s rethinking themselves in curriculum and opens spaces of possibilities for educationists’ rethinking the curricular performance of children’s games.

opening into flowing through/with intersecting lines of flight The important thing for now is to note this formation of new assemblages within the territorial assemblage, and this movement from the intra-assemblage to interassemblages by means of components of passage and relay: An innovative opening of territory onto…the group. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 325) Within this thesis-assemblage, ‘the’ assemblage opens onto other assemblages, milieu open to milieu, middles to middles, the multiplicity is ever-opening, ever-intensifying, like a refrain. Lines of flight, the forces of de~territorialisation, have affected the territory itself, continually changing and altering it, and/as the ‘territorial assemblage continually passes into other assemblages’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 325), generating (a) milieu of space-time coexistence. So while the chocolate factory, monster and Goldilocks games form singular intra-assemblages they also combine and move toward an interassemblage whereby they mutually and reciprocally constitute among themselves. Re-turning (yet again) to the four minute snippet of data of these three games is like a refrain that ‘collect[s] or gather]s] forces, either at the heart of the territory, or in order to go outside it’ (p. 327). The refrain of the intersecting lines of flight among/through these games finds its forcefulness inside…and…with/through these forces proceeds outside, into (an)other territory. By working with intersecting lines of flight, I combine several maps (of the three games) to generate a group map of them all, a map that opens to the complex ways that children make their curricular understandings work.

intersecting lines of flight ~ chocolate factory~monster~Goldilocks On the surface, at times the activity in the sandpit was bedlam, but through processing rhizoanalytically through the complexity of the chaos, it becomes chaoplexy in/at play – complexly chaotic interconnections among players…and…storylines of several games, each (e)merging with

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the others as lines of flight intersect…and…players…and…their flights traverse a multiplicity of curricular performance (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Lines of flight~shifting plateaus of play(ing) segueing through Willy Wonka~monster~bear~Goldilocks.

Plots emerged in the playing…and…games merged as players mingled together…and…games intensified in the boundless spaces…and…Goldilocks, the chocolate factory and the monster games de~territorialised the others…and…to reappear in other spaces later following flowing lines of flight. In the liminal spaces of and…and…and…, as storylines and roles segue and characters morph, linkages emerge and the non-linear procession of the games becomes apparent. In narrating the storyline, there are moments when various children incite others into their own performance, calling other characters into being. For example, Lee calls as she’s running: He’s got a really big growl! (Goldilocks image 27); this is as much statement of what has happened, as it is a reminder to Kane to keep growling. In response Kane shouts, Mi-ine! (image 28). But most markedly, in the seeming panic of the closing moments of this snippet, the timings demonstrate the children’s disruption of a linearly-ordered sequential progressive game. The timings show that things actually happened after it was claimed they were happening. For example in the timings 79


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listed below, Lee claims Kane is following them (42.24) before he moves off the edging eight seconds later (42.32) and Kane announces he had a good idea, to chase the girls as bear (42.28), eight seconds after the Goldilocks girls run off (in anticipation of being chased?) (42.20). 42.18 Libby: …put Goldilocks poison porridge he-re. 42.19 Kane: Grrrrraaaagggghhhh!! 42.20 One of the girls gasps then squeals as they run off. 42.24 Lee, as they are running: Aaahhh! He’s following us! C’mon! 42.25 The girls are now running across the back of the sandpit. 42.28 Kane, still standing on the edging: Huh! I have an idea! 42.28 At the same moment, Libby halts their escape and they stop running. 42.31 Kane then jumps down off edging. 42.32 Kane: Grraaaaghhh! and now runs after the girls. The tacit understanding of processing through their games is seen in their interactions. The moment Kane says he has an idea, Libby stops her flight and turns to run back towards him, perhaps to make it a more credible chase. The girls had decided that Kane was following them and begun their flight before he had indicated, at least explicitly, that he was about to do so. It was only as they paused to look back at him that he jumped down and stumbled after them. The interrelationships among the children, as players in their games, are a complex linkage, a multiplicity of lines of flight, which assemble as a rhizomatic plateau, but only for a moment as in the same instant everything de~territorialises. Changes are perpetual. Play is like (a) plateau(s) of clouds sculpting skyscapes, flowing as one (as one and together), constantly changing. No mark between growl, gasp and squeal, only a liminal merging of the one into a(nother) line of flight, with mere glimpses, insights and moments of light. No positivist clarity here; the most clearly it can be stated is that emergence of ‘matters of expression’ characterise the territory (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 315). The territory – this being, in one instance, the multiplicity of the children and their respective, but merging, Goldilocks and chocolate factory~monster games – was marked by/with territorialising expressions or signatures, the territory rapidly constituting ‘at the same time as expressive qualities are selected or produced’ (p. 315). Many moments in the snippet illustrate flashes of such rapidity, in particular, the rapidity with which the Goldilocks game and chocolate factory~monster game de~territorialised each other – Libby put the porridge bowl down ‘he-re’~Kane growled~the girls fled~Kane went after them. The de~territorialising happened in a flash, the activity all-at-once (re)defining the territory. 80


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Foregrounding the intersecting lines of these games makes visible the complex environments the children generate and their sophistication in performing (with/in) such complexity. Each storyline grows through tangled systems (not a linear structure) involving the players of the game and children playing in nearby games with supposedly different, yet intersecting storylines. However, it seems that in the play(ing), each game takes on aspects of the adjacent games and simultaneously affects the storylines of the others. Willy Wonka~monster~bear demonstrates the intermingling, perhaps interdependency even, of all three games, storylines, players and the physical space they territorialise in the sandpit. So, what is it that the children are telling about their understandings of curriculum? One approach is to consider what their (modernistically imbued) views of curriculum might be, to focus on the what and the how. But I choose to illuminate their doing (of) curriculum – how they process though/with curriculum or how they go about ‘curriculum-ing’ or how they perform curriculum or how they make curriculum work for their learning. An aspect of this that emerges from the shadows is their social(ising) performance, as they play with their close friends – those participating in the same game – and as they interact with players nearby and with adjacent games. In this performance they are not only experimenting with their understandings of leadership and gendered-ness, but they are demonstrating that each of the games is more than itself (…and…and…and…), that it becomes something of the others and that each of the players become something of the other players, players within their games and those within other games. In contrast to conventional perspectives of curriculum that operate in terms of specific subjects and skills, the children in this data snippet demonstrate that learning is non-linear in form and expression and that they understand how such (rhizo) processes work. That is, any particular curricular focus is inseparable from others. Their intrapersonal dramatic performance and oral expressions intermingle with interpersonal expressions of social communications and with various media representations of children’s literature – through film (Charlie and the chocolate factory), books (Goldilocks and the three bears) and TV (monsters/superheroes) – and with their imaginative interpretations of these. Children thrive within the complexity of their spontaneous play(ing) and linear processes are not necessary to the fruitful play(ing) of generative learning~living experiences. They are adept at responding to opportunities as they present – whenever…and…however…and…whatever…and… Indeed, linear processes obstruct generativity. When children flow freely through their ideas, the work of their innovation, creativity and imagination is illuminated. For example, we see a conventional approach to gendered performance interrupted through their victim~strong girls embodied performance, which does not require the boys to agree to certain ways of operating. 81


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Rather, the girls’ expressions of power-fullness open (to) a generative line of flight, one that deterritorialises the games, their subjectivities and adult understandings of (non-)gendered activity. As the children flow freely, so any leadership subject positionings are similarly fluid, collaborative and co-operative in varying ways. However, attempting to formalise such curricular opportunities for the children to be ‘taught’ social(ising) performance would be challenging, despite these opportunities working with children’s own expressions of generating their own understandings of their own learning. In their intersecting, de~territorialising lines of flight we catch glimpses of the children making meaning of the social worlds around them.

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Rhizo~mapping Map-making features regularly in some games within the data. In these, each player drawing a map is integral to the game starting up and being played out. Maps are made at various times through the games, some before embarking on the game; others are made and re-made while the game processes, so that, while expressing intentions and expectations for the game, these are not always proposed in advance. These maps are an open ‘plan(e), not a phantasy’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 260) in terms of what they represent to the children and what they mean for playing the game; they are not a prescription for the game or an authoritative statement about how it will progress. They are pictorial representations of ideas about the game, that is, the storyline, characters and their roles and areas in the playground through which the game might process. The maps picture the imaginative and physical ‘plan(e)s’ (Massumi, 1987b, p. xvii) – planes the games might process through and a plan of how the children envisage this to happen. They are assemblages the children can operate within to (dis)solve problems, problems not perceived as an expression of lack but rather as opportunities for reinventing the storyline, as multiplicities of the unconscious (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). The game emerges un/consciously in the playing, as do the maps. Although the maps are made, how they are played (out and with) is generative, becoming the game itself.

(re)thinking mapping In Thinking about Maps, Kitchin and Perkins (in press) explore philosophical issues of space, representation and praxis of mapping from geological perspectives, pointing to the significance of map-making and map-reading to our thinking processes: ‘Mapping is epistemological but also deeply ontological – it is both a way of thinking about the world, offering a framework for knowledge, and a set of assertions about the world itself’ (Kitchin & Perkins, in press, p. 2, italics added). Although these authors are considering mapping in relation to geography, many of the ideas are similar to ‘“thinking” in thought’ (Deleuze, 1994, p. 147) and relate to the mapping children engage with in the process of playing their games. In the data of my research, children engage with maps and mapping as they make maps of their games and play out their mapping. This becomes an embodied performance of map(ping) play(ing), of map play and mapping their playing. It involves recursive and multiple processes of map-making and map-reading, with the children becoming mappers and with many possible mappings being made, as, for example, they read their own map and maps drawn by other players in the game. Mapping is thus understood as processual, as 83


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embodied and dynamic; and maps as inscriptive, as ‘complex, multivocal and contested’ (Kitchin & Perkins, in press, p. 15), rather than representations or constructions. In map(ping) play(ing) children picture their experiences of movement through playground spaces and imaginative spaces of their games. These movements negotiate ‘passages through vistas, rather than an abstracted Cartesian landscape’ (Ingold, 2000, cited in Kitchin & Perkins, in press, p. 23); they are about mobility, not location. In Deleuzo-Guattarian understandings (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987), children’s maps are always already becoming. The map does not remain fixed to the moment of its creation, rather it constantly changes as encounters of the games are linked to the map, each re-reading producing different meaning and contextual engagement. Co-constitutively, the maps shape the games and the games affect how the map is performed as the games inscribe the children’s actions and the children affect and effect the storylines of their games. As well, the tracing of the game plan(e) is continually put back on the map. Maps are always already representations and practices, they are a milieu of unfolding practices. Children’s mapping is performative, as they enact the visual imagery they have created, ‘in and through diverse, discursive and material processes’ (Kitchin & Perkins, in press, p. 21), sometimes talking about the map-making, at other times communicating tacit understandings of the map and the game it is about. Geographical understandings of maps as practices link functionally with children’s map(ping) play(ing); through such mapping, curriculum as a milieu of becoming is illuminated. In performative understandings of mapping about what maps do – rather than what they represent and mean – maps are conceived as being ‘always in a state of becoming; as always mapping; as simultaneously being produced and consumed, authored and read, designed and used, serving as a representation and practice; as mutually constituting map/space in a dyadic relationship’ (pp. 21-22, original italics). In this mutually-constituitive space, territory does not precede the map, rather maps and territories (e)merge simultaneously – ‘[s]pace is constituted through mapping practices, amongst many others, so that maps are not a reflection of the world, but a re-creation of it; mapping activates territory’ (p. 22). In the process of creating their maps, the children oscillate between personal and collaborative decisions about ‘what to include, how the map will look, and what the map is seeking to communicate’ (Kitchin & Perkins, in press, p. 11). Similar to those of geographical map-makers, the children’s maps are imbued with their various values and judgements and in this sense, become products and producers of power-fullness, although shared (essentially critical) readings among the children work to ameliorate this. Maps as inscriptions are thus unstable and complex texts, neither 84


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created nor read in simple ways, rather they are open to, and require, processes of ongoing (re)contextualisation so that the map produces and reaffirms territory rather than simply describing it. ‘Maps do not have meaning or action on their own; they are part of an assemblage of people, discursive processes and material things’ (Kitchin & Perkins, in press, p. 20). This opens (to) possibilities for thinking spaces for children to (re)constitute themselves and their games as they work to produce their maps and as they make their maps work to produce their games. Kitchin and Perkins (in press) also explain maps ‘as unfolding potential; as conduits of possibilities; as the sites of imagination and action in the world (p. 22). Through processes of de~territorialising, mapping continuously remakes territory, each re-make producing differing diverse consequences. This doubled mapping de~territorialising activity, passing also through re-territorialisation, projects a variety of affects in a simultaneity of reciprocal flow. ‘The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification…it always has multiple entryways’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 12). Mapping is thus always already open performativity, opening up (to) milieus of previously unseen or unimagined possibilities of activity.

map(ping) play(ing) Rhizomatic mapping involves a complex interplay of following lines of flight and nomadically flowing through various territories, such as, physical or imaginative spaces, storylines of games and relationships among players. ‘Any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 7). This becomes an assemblage of ceaseless and ongoing connections that amass as an a-centered milieu of perpetual and dynamic change, without specific end or entry points and without beginnings and endings. In rhizomatic mapping, there are no points or positions, ‘[t]here are only lines’ (p. 9). Working with these lines, or de~territorialising lines of flight, opens possibilities for connections between what otherwise may be regarded as disparate thoughts, ideas or actions. In this way a network of interconnecting linkages forms – an amassing of middles amidst an array of multidimensional movement among open systems. Generating a rhizomatic assemblage disturbs the arborescent informed, linear progression, which can only be retraced through the same series of points of structuration and ‘always comes back “to the same”’ (p. 12). In contrast, a rhizomatic map is ‘open and connectable in all of its dimensions’ (p. 12). The children’s use of maps – map(ping) play(ing) – in the data shows how they make rhizomapping work, as they make maps, using them as a play resource and using them to continue to think about how to process (through) their games. In map(ping) play(ing), maps and mapping, and play and playing (e)merge through/with/in creative and imaginary performative plan(e)s of the 85


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games; the games like the maps never fully formed, they are forever (e)merging. How children make maps within the contexts of their games, and how they make their maps work within those spaces offer glimpses or insights into their understandings of curriculum. There are various snippets in the data that illuminate different aspects of map-making (map play) and playing out of their maps (mapping playing) that the children engage with at Sunshine Kindergarten.

Tim and Piri opening map-making Tim and Piri, preparing for their bad guys hunt show the significance of a map for calling their imaginary game and its characters into be(com)ing, the maps being part of their hunting gear. Having a map before the game gets underway is significant. The maps confirm their participation, and become a way of discussing the storyline and communicating their expectations for the game. Piri’s map features only a grid-like pattern; Tim draws people on his as well, namely, the bad guys to be hunted, and Piri and himself – the hunters.

Piri rolls his map and Tim talks as he draws: We go spider hunting every day…and we’re on a hunting trip…and we’re doing a bad people hunt today. Yeah. (He rolls up his drawing) And this is my light sabre map. Piri stuffs his map into the top of his waistband: Treasure map. Tim: The treasure map. There’s my circle to turn it on. (He shows me the light sabre ‘switch’, then sings) We’re hunting, we’re hunting. (He unrolls his map) And we need something special on it, how to know it. Piri: I don’t. Tim: We need to draw our, some bad guys. Piri: Let’s go hunting. 86


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Tim: Not yet, Piri. First I need to draw the bad guys. They got so many bad guys. There they are, all the bad guys are there and now we need to roll them up. Within their mapping conversation, Tim and Piri ascertain details of the hunt. They decide that it is a bad guys hunt, not a spider hunt but their maps do not picture any particular route to be travelled. Their maps are about mobility through the game plan(e)s rather than any particular location.

Kane, Nadia and Bella mapping their pathway(s) Kane, Nadia and Bella make maps part way through their game and un/intentionally, mapping their pathways melds the group, at least momentarily. For some time Kane has been trying to co-opt Nadia, Bella, Adam, Alec and Callum into his ideas for a chocolate factory game18. Kane has not managed to gain their full attention, but the group is following him around the playground, albeit with deviations as they pause to play on various equipment – ‘a social field is always animated by all kinds of movements of decoding and deterritorialization affecting “masses” and operating at different speeds’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 220). They each talk about their own ideas for the game but Kane persists with his ‘overcoding’ venture of trying to control the flow of the play. Eventually they make their way to the outdoors art area, where he, Nadia and Bella make maps.

Kane tells Nadia that his map is about where we know where to go. Nadia listens but says her map is the map where we get lost. Kane: So we have to go past the chocolate waterfall, back past me, and then we go up the river, and then we go…’Scuse me, watch what the maps gonna tell you. You go past the chocolate waterfall. Hey everybody look at the map! We go past the chocolate waterfall 18

This game happened on a different day from the chocolate factory game discussed in the Children performing curriculum complexly plateau with a different group of children.

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through the reeds, then at the river and then, ah, we head to our space rocket and then we’re at […]. So we have to all go the right way, we have to go past the waterfall. So we have to go a really slo-ow way. That’s going to take a long, long, long, long, long, long time. Nadia rolls up her map: This is the map where we get lost, OK? Kane, rolling his map: Well this is the map. Nadia, adding more to her map: Yeah, but this is the map where we get lost. Kane: Mmmm and this is the map where we know where to go. Nadia hands her map to Kane and leads the way outside. Kane appreciates the value of the maps for communicating (his) intentions for the game plan(e) and for ensuring they all go the right way, or his way, and that his is ‘the’ map. But Nadia brings a critical reading to their use of maps. She seems to appreciate the diverse ways in which maps are produced and used and that there is no one right way to do either. It seems that her map is to ensure they do or don’t get lost, or to help them find their way if/when they do. With a continual refrain of attempting to draw the group into his ideas for the game, Kane manages through the map-making to ‘distribute game roles and functions within the territorial assemblage’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 327), an assemblage of game~players~maps. The maps become a space of negotiation among players, a space where Kane and his overcoding rigid lines of thought or ‘rigid segmentarity’ of intentions for the game can come together with ‘a relatively supple line of interlaced codes and territorialities’ of the others and with their lines of flight as they flow as nomad~rhizome, ‘ventur[ing] a fluid and active escape, sow[ing] deterritorialization everywhere’ (p. 222). Despite thinking he was in charge, it is Nadia who continues with the smooth space of the game and leads the way outside.

Tim and Zak’s mapping machinic In their dinosaur spider hunt, Tim and Zak open a milieu of mapping as their maps legitimise participation in the game, generating both conflict and a passage through. In these moments their mapping becoming a machinic of power-fullness – as a machine of the unconscious. In the moments that complications arise around their mapping, their maps enable them to passage through the complexities of the game. Firstly, their maps are significant to their game starting up. When I ask what they need to play the game, Zak says: We need a map and…. Tim adds: And the horseys. So, they require other gear but making maps comes first; and later re-making them as the game processes is important. The maps demonstrate the significance of having a game-plan(e) as well as picturing the game-plan(e) itself. Although the maps announce their entry into the game, they are 88


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fluid, contestable and constantly being (re)negotiated – a map is ‘always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits and its own lines of flight’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 21). However, in the moment it becomes apparent that they need to modify their maps, a problem arises around their convoluted understandings of the hunt. They are sitting in their trolley and are using a toy cash register to get a reading of whether it is time to hunt dinosaurs, despite Tim’s earlier statement that it was a spider hunt. Tim: Let’s see if it’s dinosaur time. No dinosaur time today. Zak: Let’s see it. Oh you’re right it’s no dinosaur time today. Tim: ‘Cos it’s Saturday, no dinosaur time on Saturdays, are there? They now decide that they need new maps. Tim runs off to make his while Zak guards the trolley and when he returns with his new map, without seeing what Tim has drawn, Zak runs inside to the drawing table while Tim stays with the trolley. Zak: Um I’m gonna make a better map for a dinosaur hunt. I made a spider map but I don’t want a spider map…I’m going to make another dinosaur map… Tim shows me his map with a spider on it, then, abandoning the trolley, he goes to check on Zak. As he sees Zak drawing a dinosaur, their (mis)understandings about the game unfold. Tim: We’re not going on a dinosaur hunt. We’re going on a spider hunt. Zak: Uummm…um, I thought you said we’re going on a, on a dinosaur hunt. Tim: No dinosaur hunt. Spider hunt! Do a spider one! Zak: No-o because it’s almost finished… Tim: Huuh! Ok I’m going to have to do a spider hunt by my self. Zak: Well we we I wanna um…I thought you said you wanted to go on a dinosaur hunt. Tim: No dinosaur hunt! Spider hunt! Zak: Why do you want to go on a spider hunt? Tim: Cos I wanna I need to go on it. Zak has an idea about his drawing: Oh what alright it’s it’s it’s a dinosaur spider instead! Tim squeals and jumps from one foot to the other: It’s a dinosaur spider hunt! Let’s go! Zak beams as they run off together. Tim: We got to go on a dinosaur spider hunt.

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thinking about children’s curricular performance As well as being a site of conflict, their maps become a catalyst for resolution. A developmental, behaviourist reading would likely see this as extremely well executed conflict resolution and in these terms, Zak’s expertise is undeniable. But a Deleuzo-Guattarian reading intensifies the (mis)understanding of the milieu, presenting both Tim and Zak as ‘expert’ at negotiating difficult territory, of dissolving the problem. This is a moment of plugging tracings back into the(ir) map – ‘Plug the tracings back into the map, connect the roots or trees back up with a rhizome’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p.14). In affirming each other’s engagement with the game, Tim and Zak pause to (re)make their hunting maps. But, the tracing – of the intended storyline – limits the game; it seems they had different maps and intentions from the outset, but it is not until Tim approaches Zak at the drawing table that these become apparent and an opportunity to re/dis/solve their differing expectations opens. The tracing – the (fixed) understanding that each has – is impeding the game’s processing and the (open) mapping enterprise. The tracing obstructs the game; an asignifying rupture appears; and a new line of flight emerges – ‘Once a rhizome has been obstructed, arborified, it’s all over, no desire stirs; for it’s always by rhizome that desire moves and produces’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p.14). While (re)making the maps stymied the game temporarily, in following a new line of flight, an acceptable variation emerged for continuing by bringing the tracing of the hunt and two maps of possibilities for enacting the hunt together. There are knots of arborescence in rhizomes, and rhizomatic offshoots in roots…The important point is that the root-tree and canal-rhizome are not two opposed models: the first operates as a transcendent model and tracing, even if it engenders its own escapes; the second operates as an immanent process that overturns the model and outlines a map, even if it constitutes its own hierarchies…It is not a question of…this or that category of thought. It is a question of a model that is perpetually in construction or collapsing, and of a process that is perpetually prolonging itself, breaking off and starting up again. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 20) In breaking off and starting again, Tim and Zak play out their (mis)understanding. Tim’s tracing engenders its own (despotic) escape as he states that he wants and needs to go on a spider hunt; Zak’s idea for a dinosaur-spider hunt opens out an immanent process that becomes a new mapping for the game. His way through is not despotic, even though the new combined reading of their maps – for a dinosaur-spider hunt – rises above the old map’s tracing. But, as the tracing is plugged into the map, the tracing melds with the map to enhance the game, this assuring their passaging through/with/in it. Mapping the game both is and is not disrupted; they each become a knot of arborescence, blocking the other’s desiring a rhizomatic offshoot. In behaviourist terms, this interruption disrupts the smooth flow of the game, but negotiating Deleuzo-Guattarian smooth 90


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spaces involves eruption, irruption and disruption, towards growing unexpected passages for the game. However, the de-territorialising refrain – ‘expressive qualities that constitute territorial motifs’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 317) – of (mis)understandings between Tim and Zak (un)surprisingly breaks the game. They disagree over Piri joining the game; Tim invites him to participate but Zak argues that he can’t because he doesn’t have a map. This time their disagreement is not resolvable in the moment. As Tim walks off, he waves his map at Zak, saying: I’m gonna put this in my locker and you can never find it! The maps are intact but the mapping that they represent breaks. ‘Childhood scenes, children’s games: the starting point is a childlike refrain, but the child has wings already…Opening the assemblage onto a cosmic force…one was already present in the other’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 350). The game~players~map assemblage continues in a different expression on another day as Tim and Piri take up hunting together after Zak has gone to school.19 Tim and Zak’s dinosaur spider hunt map making occurred on a Thursday; Zak left for school the next day; and on the following Monday, Tim and Piri made maps for their bad guys hunt. The maps were continually becoming the game, the map(ping)s both calling the games into be(com)ing along with the players.

mapping (a) milieu(s) of curricular performativity It is the children’s overall approach to map(ping) play(ing) that is significant to understanding their curricular performance within the context of conventional curriculum conceptions that the adult world imposes on young children. The children’s curricular performance of map-making and playing out their maps constitutes a multiplicity of learning. The maps express desire for the games, the characters, the players and their subject positionings, this desire sometimes changing as the children process through their singular and collective expectations for the game. The maps open (to) possibilities for the social and physical spaces to (e)merge with/in the imaginative territory of the game. Their maps continually illuminate and dissolve problems as the children oscillate through passages until they dis/agree to continue playing together or to con/di/verge in this game-plan(e) or another. Through their map(ping) play(ing) we are afforded glimpses into their ways of approaching curriculum, which seems to be more about thinking differently than any particularised understandings. Through/with/in imaginary games, the children work with tacit learning of the unconscious, working with their desires alongside (those of) others, imparting understandings of an embodied unconscious with/in the multiplicity of the full body, the body without organs. This 19

In Aotearoa New Zealand children move on to school at five years of age so the group dynamics of older children in the kindergarten were constantly changing.

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disrupts cognition as a prime function of the body, disturbing the foothold of pervasive structuralist approaches to learning and understandings of curriculum. Linear processes are irrelevant to children operating productively in play, in informal, spontaneous learning situations and experiences. As they flow freely with/through their ideas they (re)create generative learning experiences for themselves and those around them. Attempting to think differently about the ways children generate learning opportunities problematises structural, developmental and behaviourist perspectives, as well as opening (to) glimpses of how this might happen. Maps picture ebbs and flows of the rhizomatic movement of games and children intermingling in (a) curricular milieu(s). There is one and there are many – child/ren, game(s) and milieu(s). Mapping these rhizomatic formations avoids pathologising the children and opens (to) insights about their curricular performance. Maps as fragmented wholes offer an expansive view of an extensive milieu of space~time, in which both space and time are irreducible to a linear conception. They picture mobility and expression of activity, with de~territorialising lines of flight flowing through/with/in the milieu(s) mapped. The maps illustrate children’s curricular understandings as (a) milieu(s) of becoming.

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Children and childhood opening the children~childhood plateau In this plateau, I present my poststructuralist feminist understandings of children and childhood, introducing singularities and monad, and link these to the adult-child binary. Significant to this thesis-assemblage are (my) westernised understandings, reflecting my subjectivity as white and as woman~wife~mother~grandmother~early childhood teacher~teacher educator~student. I then introduce the idea of historical discourses of childhood and subjective positions of children taken up in these, including a discussion of various discourses that position children as innocent, evil, miniature adult, as social problem, as having rights, as rich, agentic and as produsers. After linking these to Te Whāriki20 (Ministry of Education, 1996), I offer another understanding of children, one of becoming child(ren).

poststructuralist understandings of children and childhood Understandings of children and childhood are inextricably intertwined in that childhood is a period in which children live their lives and it is a part of society; also, while childhood is a temporary period for children, it remains a social structure. The modernist notion of the scientifically universal child, progressing naturally through specific age-related stages of development of childhood, promotes an individualised, homogenous child with isolated childhood experiences. However, the concept of childhood, in poststructuralist terms, is re-presented, as socially constructed, historically contingent, culturally situated and contextually bound (Cannella & Viruru, 2004). In these understandings, it is impossible to define what childhood might be or how it should proceed. Rather, a conceptual multiplicity abounds, intertwining notions of children and childhood within historical and contemporary understandings. …there is no such thing as ‘the child’ or ‘childhood’, an essential being and state waiting to be discovered, defined, realized, so that we can say to ourselves and others ‘that is how children are, that is what childhood is’. Instead, there are many children and many childhoods, each constructed by our ‘understandings of childhood and what children are and should be’. (Dahlberg et al., 1999, p. 43)

20

Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996) is the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood curriculum statement.

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As a cultural (re)production, childhood is complex, fluid and contextualised and is shaped and understood differently by singular children and the worlds they operate with/in. This illuminates the relevance of ‘the power of discursive and interactive practices to create and sustain individual subjectivities and social structures’ (Davies, 1994, p. 20). In poststructuralist thinking the universally individualised child is decentred and children are viewed complexly – personally, interpersonally and always in a particular cultural/institutional context (Malaguzzi, 1993; Rogoff, 1998).

singularities~monad Deleuze’s (1993) understanding of singularities is useful here. Unlike the individual subject, which is perceived to be structurally embedded in life, singularities are embodied in processes of living as indiscrete inside~outside systems that are constantly changing – ‘a singularity cannot achieve total self-consciousness, since if it did know itself, the self that it knew would not be the same as the self that did the knowing’ (Readings, 1996, p. 116). Braidotti (2001) says that this singular entity is ‘collectively defined, interrelational and external; it is impersonal but highly singular…is not an atomized individual but a moment in a chain of being that passes on…[moving] on nomadically, by multiple becomings’ (p. 407). Conley (2005) explains a singularity is a place where ‘perception is felt in movement…[and is characterised by] events that make it both unique and common’ (p. 252). This inside~outside flow between a singular body and its environs disrupts any perception of the individualised child. Monad expresses these inside~outside worlds – ‘the world is included in each one in the form of perceptions…the monad does not exist outside of other monads’ (Deleuze, 1993, p. 86). So, ‘within the finiteness of its own existence is expressed the infinity of the entire world’ (Sellers, M., 2007, p. 58), monad is both infinite and infinitesimal. Monad expresses oneness that enfolds a multiplicity and a multiplicity that unfolds the oneness, continuously coming and going. ‘The monad is a mirror and a perspective onto the world’ (Dimakopoulou, 2006, ¶ 9). Singularities and monad together then re/cite/site ‘the child’. In that singularities ‘extend to the neighbourhood of other singularities’ (Deleuze, 1993, p. 91), children and childhood are inextricably intertwined. Children are no longer individuals but collectives embodied in surroundings and childhood is disrupted as an individualised, isolated experience. Children and their childhoods link to the inside~outside, with/in a monadic~nomadic flow.

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subjectivity and monadic~nomadic flow Linked to notions of the individualised child and monadic children are understandings of subject and subjectivity. ‘The subject’ represents a modernist assumption of a logocentric, generic individual, whereas ‘subjectivity’ illuminates the social world’s part in constituting subjects. Subjectivity foregrounds the ‘shifting, fragmented, multi-faceted and contradictory nature’ (Davies, 1994, p. 3) of the diversity of our lived experience, always already dynamic, changing and multidimensional with/in particular discourses and practices and always already constituted by these – a ‘subject-in-process’ (Kristeva & Roudiez, 1980, p. 135) in various worlds. The ex-subject, now monad, is produced in the discursive practices that make up social worlds, existing as a multiplicity of contradictory subjectivities dispersed in a plurality of spaces. This multiplicity disrupts any lingering assumptions of a unitary, pre-given psychological subject who is socialised (Walkerdine, 2000). Braidotti (2001) explains such movement around subjectivity as a ‘social imaginary, [as] a network of forces and interconnections that constitute subjects in multiple, complex, and multi-layered ways. Subjects are…simultaneously constructed and destabilized by interpellations that hit them at all levels [all-at-once]’ (p. 385). She works also with the DeleuzoGuattarian (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) figuration of nomad, or ‘nomadic subjectivity’, in which there is ‘simultaneity of complex and multi-layered identities’ (Braidotti, n.d., electronic version, ¶ 54), a nomadic~monadic flow. Disrupting the unitary subject, subjectivity is characterised as constituted rather than constitutive, is perceived as embodied and situated, as a desiring-machine (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987), fragmentary and re/cited/sited from one moment to the next, as monadic~nomadic. Having opened possibilities for understanding children and childhood as a monad~nomad multiplicity within poststructuralist thinking, I turn to the modernist adult|child binary. The dichotomous categorising of children as non-adults not only relegates children to an inferior status in the world, it also obscures the diversity of children and childhood. It homogenises children and their childhoods and dismisses a heterogeneous multiplicity of desire and capability. Similar to adults’ lived experiences of adulthood, childhood is subject to societal forces and children can be understood as power-full players in their childhoods and in society.

adult|child binary Disrupting the modernist adult|child binary is significant to the project of (re)conceiving children and their childhood(s). Within dichotomous thinking, society divides its members into childhood and adulthood, with transition into adulthood the ultimate goal and adulthood claiming distinctive 95


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rights and privileges, but also having obligations. However, even as monad children mature into adulthood, the inferior status of children as a group remains. For example, (middle class) adult platitudes present childhood as a golden age in which children are to be untroubled by adult concerns, such as work and social responsibility. Although this expresses concern for children’s physical and emotional well-being, it subordinates children in the family, school and the wider community and is imbued with disdaining values and attitudes towards children that are ageist (Franklin, 2002; Vandenbroeck & Bie, 2006). But the intersections among child and adult, and childhood and adulthood are complex and fraught with contradictions as past and present meet, for example, adult experience as children living childhoods in an earlier time are different from children’s experiences of childhood now (Mayall, 2002). When children are confronted with historic adult knowledge, temporal differences ascribed to childhood and adulthood become apparent, although exploring the space of difference opens (to) possibilities for generating both unique and common understandings. Moss (2002) urges that we think more broadly about early childhood across life’s course to avoid the marginalisation of young children. In the process of subordinating children within protected social roles (Mayall, 2002), generational boundaries between childhood and adulthood become more distinct. However, Suransky (1982) argues that the predominating adult agenda shaped by technological and institutional imperatives is eroding childhood; similarly, Postman (1994) believes that the division between childhood and adulthood is disappearing. Children become ‘adult-child’ (p. 98) or ‘kidult’ (Bird, 2003, p. 45), as through popular entertainment, news and advertising, adult information and values become accessible to children, so that ‘behavior, language, attitudes, and desires – even the physical appearance – of adults and children are becoming increasingly indistinguishable’ (Postman, 1994, p. 4). But within this kidult culture, Postman notes that children’s understandings of themselves are that they are children, the adult responsibility here being to embrace this agentic definition. Children thus display a knowledgeable, sophisticated desire for their childhoods and for what they would be(come) as children. In deconstructing early childhood education, Cannella (1997) disrupts the modernist binarial assumption that children are unable to be perceived as competent, knowledgeable and empowered until they reach the privileged position of adult. She promotes children as ‘younger human beings’ (p. 11) and although younger still implies there is an older, more desirable position, her critique is influential. The child is decentred as children are viewed complexly and childhood is similarly disrupted. The corollary is that the term ‘children’ should be sous rature (children) throughout this thesis-assemblage, but at risk of perpetuating the dichotomy, to ease the conversation I speak of 96


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children with the intention that this be read as young people of monadic singularity. Butler (1990) affirms that abandoning the terms ‘children’ and ‘childhood’ is unnecessary, as to be constituted is not to be determined. Considering possibilities for re(con)ceiving children and childhood invites/incites also a response to the multiple voices of feminism, calling to question dominating ideologies, knowledges and educational practices (Cannella, 2000; Mayall, 2002). The hierarchical concept of the adult|child binary, which absents children, distorts their social positioning and compromises their contribution, comes to the attention of feminist scholarship, which implicitly sustains children as young people, rather than not-yet-adult.

leaving this opening conversation… As I move to discussing discourses of children and childhood, I iterate my subjectively affected understanding of the multiplicity of children and childhood. Children are young people of monadic singularity living childhoods outside a mere pathway to adulthood. Children and childhood(s) are a living~learning experience all human beings negotiate. Within this generative thinking, childhood becomes a space-time whereby children experience life in all its complexities and ambiguities; as an ongoing celebratory performance of living, it is not a problem in life to be resolved or worked through. Children invite authentic21 respect.

(e)merging images and subject positionings of children in childhood(s) Emanating from historical discourses of children and childhood are modernist images of children and childhood and in the latter decades of the twentieth century poststructuralist understandings of subject positionings of children and childhood have emerged. In this discussion I use the term ‘images’ to emphasise modernistically imbued perspectives of viewing children and childhood that project representations of the external forms of children and childhood. In its use as a metaphorical figure of speech, ‘image’ evokes a sense of likeness as it appears from the outside and is judged as extremely typical. ‘Image’ thus provokes modernist thought, referring to a unitary and noncontradictory self, embedded in identity. Children are thus identified as innocent, evil or as miniature adult, for example, and as maturing within frameworks of childhood. In contrast, subject positions work with poststructuralist understandings of subjectivity, organised in relation to various discourses, which ‘open up, or make possible, certain subject positions through and in terms of which we can interact with the world’ (Davies, 1994, p. 23). Reflecting the conceptual fluidity of these ‘subject positions’ and the active ‘constitutive force of discourse’ (p. 23) on them, I further

21

I use ‘authentic’ cautiously as there is a sense that a quest for authenticity is but a contemporary rendition of the Golden Fleece myth.

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draw the understanding from an implied fixed ‘position’ to a more mobile ‘positioning’, as shifting, fragmented, multidimensional, contradictory and always already dynamic and changing. These historical and psycho/sociological discourses perceive children and their childhood(s) in various ways. Historically, three sets of themes dominate images of childhood: the child as weak, innocent and needy, requiring rescue and protection; the child as evil, monster or threat, from whom society needs protection if order and progress are to be maintained; and the child as miniature or embryonic adult, perceived as a redemptive agent ensuring futurity (Moss & Petrie, 2002; Woodrow, 1999; Woodrow & Brennan, 2001). More recently, within poststructuralist thinking, some emerging subject positionings explain children as adult commodity, agentic, younger human beings (Cannella, 1997; Sorin, 2003), with rights (Moss & Petrie, 2002), as social problem (Corsaro, 1997), and as ‘produsers’ (Bruns, 2007). These understandings of children and childhood have been woven throughout different eras, with different ones dominating in different times, influenced, for example, by changing conceptions of the roles of nature and culture. The notion that childhood is a socially-constructed concept and not an independent reality (Cannella, 1997; James, Jenks, & Prout, 1998) informs understandings of how images and subject positionings work, including how they continue to be ‘shaped by culturally specific sets of ideas, philosophies, attitudes, and practices’ (Woodrow & Brennan, 2001, p. 25) relative to any particular situation and situation. For example, Rogoff (2003) disrupts the western discourse of child development, illuminating how our taken-for-granted (westernised) images and subject positionings of children and childhood are commonly perceived as natural, so that questioning them creates discomfort, and is likely to elicit accusations of political bias (Woodrow and Brennan, 2001). Images that present children as passive and childhood as a site of control, while simultaneously embracing aspects of nurture and protection, limit understandings of children and childhood (Woodrow, 1999). But considering how they work is useful to opening possibilities for their interruption, towards furthering more recent subject positionings of children and childhood – as agentic, rich, with rights and as produsers.

the child as weak~innocent~needy The construction of the weak child, as opposed to the knowledgeable and all-powerful adult, is embedded in the adult|child binary, this binary being a self-perpetuating mechanism as childhood becomes the object of the scientific gaze and children are manipulated and regulated by the expert adult world. In this view, children become Other/ed as weak, needy and innocent, ‘lacking (in skill or knowledge), immature, fearful, savage, vulnerable, undefined’, unlike adults who are ‘intelligent, strong, competent, mature, civilized, and in control’ (Cannella, 1997, p. 34). Children (and their 98


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childhoods) are afforded minority status as they strive to become adults through a childhood apprenticeship that prepares them for adulthood (Mayall, 2002). This separation privileges the functioning of adults, with children being labelled as deficient and incomplete, and in their frailty, simultaneously protected from and denied access to adult knowledge. The emergence of childcentred pedagogy in the 1960s proposed children as being central in their learning, however, critique uncovers this as a patriarchal, authoritarian construct (Cannella, 1997; Walkerdine, 1998/1984) creating an illusion of freedom for children to think and act. The child-centred approach functioned in pre-determined ways through Euro-American, male rationalism (Cannella & Viruru, 2004). In this image, innocence readily becomes confounded with childhood ignorance, compared to the knowledgeable state of adulthood, with children being dismissed as incapable of responding to the realities of their lives (Cannella & Viruru, 2004). For example, children are often more knowledgeable than adults in understanding complex and distressing phenomena, such as death and illness and in making life/death decisions about treatment, including termination of treatment (Alderson, 2002; Silin, 1995). The innocent child then gives rise to the needy child, an image grounded in normalising theories of human development. With these expert-defined needs of what is normal presented as a given (Bird & Drewery, 2000; Dahlberg & Moss, 2005), constructing a generic child with needs that are incontestable assumes a lack. Perceived as ‘needy’ thus, harmfully, puts the child in deficit (Bird, 2003). Although it is common for children’s needs to be defined and managed as adults determine (Mayall, 2002), currently there is a shift from focusing on adult perceptions of children’s ‘needs’ towards embracing children’s views of what is just (Woodhead, 2001). This links to the child with rights, discussed further on.

the child as monster~evil~threat As the weak~innocent~needy image of children reproduces an assumed universal nature, the image of the child as monster~evil~threat, similarly reproduces a homogeneous child and although this monster child suggests an autonomous active position, it is regulated into passivity. The monster child is considered to lack protection from her/him/self and thus needs to be tamed, for example, by behaviourist psychological approaches (Green, 1984). The view of children as ‘little devils…inherently naughty, unruly and unsocialised beings’ (Holloway & Valentine, 2000, p. 3) is reflected in centuries old, Christian attitudes to child-rearing that work to civilise and constrain inner, monstrous qualities, with each new generation perceived as a threat to its elders. Although, currently the ‘threat’ of young children’s confidence and technical competence with manipulating new technologies, particularly ICT, is affirming of children, welcoming them as ‘media sages’ 99


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(Marsh, 2007, p. 19). However, the negativity of the monster image dominates, legitimising intervention programmes such as the medicalising of ADHD children, whose behaviour must be dealt with and contained. Within early childhood settings, some practices work to constrain the monstrous, threatening child through rules that promote conformity and routines and reinforce adult authority and power. While the grouping of children according to age may be designed to protect toddlers from the play of more boisterous older children, keeping them apart acts to simultaneously control both the monstrous and the weak child. Moreover, in the monster image, adults are also assumed to need protection from the (perceived) out-of-control child, thus the treating of the ADHD child, for example (Coppock, 2002). In the interests of maintaining the social order, the monster child is tamed, sometimes being denied opportunities to grow in responsibility; some see extension groups in early childhood settings where children are rewarded for performing to task within a specified timeframe as contributing to a regulatory social order (Woodrow, 1999). Intervention in the form of regulating the monster child and organising the needy child satisfies the normalising endeavour of developmental theory. Ultimately, within the monster~evil~threat image the all-powerful adult is valorised; conformity takes precedence over children negotiating their power-fullness; agency is denied. Emanating from this (supposed) monster child is the child as social problem, which further regulates children into passivity.

the child as social problem Intermingling with these weak and monster images is the discourse of the child as ‘social problem’ (Corsaro, 1997), in which children are largely perceived as useless, as a threat, as needing protection, as passive, as a marginalised out-group, as responsibility of women. While representations of children as small, vulnerable members of society are potentially damaging, images of children as villains, as dangerous children who prey on others are equally damaging – the latter image promoting the political idea that such children are undeserving of participation in society and that society needs protection from them. The child as villain, defined as social problem – particularly children from lower socio-economic communities – is also blamed for being the problem and is deemed responsible for social and economic problems that adversely affect her/his life. In this modernist, simplistic cause-and-effect view children also become redemptive agents for a better future, with childhood being a time when social problems are solvable (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005, p. 57). This justifies the need for further instruction, training and discipline – for children and their parents – increasing their marginalisation and affirming children’s inferiority. But, if 100


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resolution of the threat fails, the child as social problem is deemed responsible for living out adulthood as an unresolvable agent. Victimising the child as a social problem spreads further into an unease about children’s everyday safety and security in public places (Morrow, 2002; Walkerdine, 2000). As adult anxieties dominate about children being alone in public places – being in the wrong place at the wrong time – children are increasingly isolated from one another. An anomaly is apparent here as the universalised child who has become public property is simultaneously expected to operate within the private domain. Opportunities to be together and learn from each other are restricted to early childhood settings, for example, and children lose the opportunities for sharing experiences and doing things together, in public playgrounds for example (Corsaro, 1997; James et al., 1998; Smith, 2000). However, enmeshed in this supposed lack of freedom are young children’s rights to protection and provision within (potentially unsafe?) public spaces and within private spaces, albeit restrictive; even the private space of home is not always safe (Walkerdine, 2000). Attempts to promote children’s right to participation (Mayall, 2000) point to social, political and economic problematics. To some extent, overprotectiveness inheres in the social problem discourse, as does sentimentalism. The images and subject positionings discussed so far remain fundamentally problematic.

the child as miniature adult or embryonic adult Nowhere is the adult|child binary more evident than in the image of the child as miniature adult, or as embryonic adult (Woodrow, 1999). This view is dependent on a linear perspective and children merely pass through a preparatory period in childhood, through developmental stages whereby various skills, emotions and knowledge are acquired in preparation for adult life (Corsaro, 1997). This essentialist view, reliant on stage theories of child development, anticipates specific outcomes for childhood and conceives of childhood and adulthood as distinct historical periods. As preparation for life and employment, childhood becomes a rehearsal endorsing social conformity; and children become a resource, an investment for the future (Woodrow, 1999). Childhood is thus denied as an actual process of living and children are denied status as young human beings in their own right. Both children and their childhoods are not only marginalised, they are also colonised (Cannella & Viruru, 2004). Piaget’s work contributed significantly to children becoming objects of the scientific gaze that ensured their psychologised advancement into adulthood. In relation to early childhood curriculum, this structurally developmentalist framework that inheres in the adult|child binary both draws from and feeds into the image of the child as embryo adult, the outcome invariably orienting towards reproduction. 101


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the child as commodity~consumer~produser Emanating from the child as miniature adult are economically and politically oriented subject positionings of the child as commodity and children as consumers and ‘produsers’ (Bruns, 2005). The child as commodity works to benefit materialistic aspirations of/for adulthood (Sorin, 2003; Steinberg & Kincheloe, 1997). As the ‘commodification of one set of human beings for the consumption of another’ (Quinby, 1991, pp. 104-105 cited in Lather, 1993, p. 42) is played out, children are at risk from exploitation along a continuum, involving being used as cute calendar images, becoming prime consumer targets, being enslaved and economically exploited by multinational companies and being sold for body parts (Stearns, 2006). Similarly exploited, children in for-profit early childhood centres are capitalised by the childcare industry; children requiring care while parents/caregivers work are an economic asset, a unit carrying dollars, open to exploitation by entrepreneurial, privatised, childcare companies (Snook, 2000; Woodrow & Brennan, 2001), some listed on the stock exchange. The increasing involvement of the marketing of education and care for young children where the child is primarily a dollar-earning unit for entrepreneurs, and secondarily a person with rights to education and a desire to learn, renders children and childhood at risk of exploitation. The child as commodity is objectified, lacks agency and is mis/represented by adult acts, many of which seem not to have the best interests of the child at heart. The economic agenda that (ab)uses children as a commodity also commodifies children as consumers. Although positioning children as consumers suggests a move towards a more actively involved, agentic child making choices in the marketplace, it is but a trajectory of children as commodity as children are drawn into an essentially materialistic worldview, remaining passive players in their childhoods amidst conflicting social trends. Smith (2000) presents this complex arrangement of children as ‘dutiful consumers, creative thinkers, and decisive actors’ (p. 8). These perceptions require children to be adaptable to the current era (as consumers or recipients) and open to future revision (as creative thinkers). As dutiful consumers, children become a way to their parents’ spending power and potentially valuable life-long converts themselves to brands and products. In reaching her/his own conclusions the child as ‘passive, malleable consumer’ becomes an active ‘questioning and creative interpreter’ (p. 7). Children as consumers are enmeshed in contradictory experiences and demands. For example, participating in a trike-a-thon to raise money for running their kindergarten positions young children as competent participants in the economy and as a dollar-earning unit to be exploited. It is likely that children interpret this as a fun activity and as a valuable contribution towards the acquisition of new resources as they enthusiastically pedal around a circuit in anticipation of using the new resource. Consumerism takes them full circle, inviting their (re)participation. 102


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Another trajectory of the commodification is of children as ‘produsers’ (Bruns, 2005; 2007), who straddle the agentic|passive divide. Recent understandings of children as active players in digitisation disrupt the discreteness of a producer|consumer dichotomy and affirm the ‘non-threat’ as capable users of ICT that these children pose. These ‘produsers’ actively engage in a collaborative, participatory environment, simultaneously using and producing information and knowledge (Bruns, 2007). In this way children are shaped to participate through interactive, individualised modes of engagement with media technologies. Marsh (2007) reports both positive and negative affects for childhoods as children are characterised as ‘media saps’ and/or ‘media sages’ (p. 15). Imag(in)ing children as media saps, subject to manipulation by the media, denies children agency and productive capabilities, whereas media sages are perceived as having a high degree of knowledge and expertise necessary for the future. As Marsh concludes, conceptualising digital childhoods is complex, involving both opportunities and threats, as children shape and are shaped by digitisation.

…pausing momentarily… The sets of images of children as weak, monstrous and embryonic adult pervade current educational practice, as adults act on behalf of children effectively denying them agency, as children are regarded as objects of study towards improving behaviour and as children are pushed towards adultimposed achievement standards and educational maturity (Sorin, 2003). While a modernist understanding sees these actions as having positive affects for children and their progress through childhood, a poststructuralist deconstruction resists subject positioning of children as inferior to adults, as immature, naïve, less able, dependent and incompetent human beings. Also, from a feminist reading, male adult society (the dominant majority) decides what constitutes learning and development, in regard to what children (marginalised as Other) need to know and why, and how they ought to go about it. These modernist images of children as weak, monstrous and embryonic sustain children as essentially passive, but recent subject positioning of the agentic child (James & Prout, 1997) and children as younger human beings (Cannella, 1997) open possibilities within poststructural thinking for (re)conceiving children and their childhoods. It is important to note that movement towards the agentic child has not occurred sequentially as this discussion might imply. Rather there has been a flow22 of merging images and subject positionings of children and 22

I resist the idea of this being a continuum, as ‘continuum’ originates from the ‘concept of a technological lineage’, which although engages with variable extension, is from a given standpoint (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 405), suggesting an ordered, traceable sequence, albeit overlapping. ‘Flow’ is ‘matter in movement, in flux, in variation, matter as conveyor of singularities and traits of expression’ (p. 409). This matter-flow cannot be determined, it ‘can only be followed’ (p. 409), or mapped.

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childhood as commodity~consumer~producer. There is a complexity of discourses oscillating through various space-times. (E)merging subject positionings appear in a multi-dimensional complexity of networks where images of children become perceptible from within an historical tangle of authority, regulation and possibilities for the future and in a continuing dissolving of present practices and opening to future ones.

the agentic child The constituting of the agentic child positions children as active and influential participants within a variety of social contexts (Cannella & Viruru, 2004). Agentic children are perceived as capably participating in their worlds, competently appropriating and reproducing aspects of their culture through social interactions (Sorin, 2003), often creating learning experiences beyond that which their teachers may have conceived or thought possible. This understanding considers children as collective producers of culture, as co-constructors of childhood, as co-producers of knowledge, as a social group, as useful, as autonomous social actors (Vandenbroeck & Bouverne-de Bie, 2006; Prout 2005; Mayall, 2002, Corsaro, 1997). From a westernised educational perspective, viewing children as co-producers (with teachers and other adults) of knowledge foregrounds them as powerfull in negotiating their childhoods. However, Lee (1998) argues that considering children as agentic and actively contributing to the social worlds they operate within fails to recognise the notions of dependency and immaturity inherent in agentic action. He claims that this sociological concept of agency privileges competency and completeness and, as an essentialist view, excludes those outside the mainstream, so while this view of children’s agency is commonly promoted in early childhood education, the concept is culturally bound. Similarly, Davies (1990) emphasises that the traditional sociological view, which constitutes individuals as having choice and as being able to act on those choices, is a misplaced assumption that lacks cognisance of complex and contradictory belief systems, such as those around individual rights and the productivity of the collective and around notions of gendered-ness. While ensuring children as a group in society have voice and are visible, how agency translates into practice is inherently problematic as it functions within the parameters of childhood’s minority status (Mayall, 2002). Although disrupting the adult|child binary may produce anxiety about an erosion or disappearance of childhood (Suransky, 1982; Postman, 1994), it opens opportunities for both adults and children in that arbitrary, generational boundaries, for example, dissolve and become less constraining (Vandenbroeck & Bouverne-de Bie, 2006). But within such sociological perspectives a problem also arises. When agency is considered dependent on having a ‘voice’, encouraging children’s participation risks silencing groups of children who operate within tenuous 104


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social worlds of diverse lived experiences, socially and culturally. For example, participation is an acceptable notion for children living in families where a culture of negotiation exists – negotiation between parents and between parents and children. Such negotiation and self-expression are western, middle-class cultural constructions, not common to all cultures, although such attributes are perceived as optimal in Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood settings. As Davies (1990) says, ‘all available discursive practices are not something any individual can automatically take up’ (p. 342). So this, now westernised, and most likely middle class, agentic child works to privilege an already privileged group of children even though agency is likely to be produced in different ways in different social and cultural contexts. With negotiation skills perceived as a civilising process and preparation for adult life in a westernised democracy, anomalies arise in that promoting the agentic child also works to tame the monster child and to affirm the status of childhood as a preparatory process for life in which the child is futuristic adult and redemptive agent. The agentic child, culturally bound, continues to be susceptible to adverse affects and effects of dichotomising adult|child. From a poststructuralist perspective, agency is contingent, within contradictory and shifting positionings of accepting and resisting social beliefs around individuals and collectives, and of accepting and resisting operating within and outside these social lores. Davies (1990) foregrounds the following questions as significant to becoming agentic, as children (and adults, continually) learn to fit in and also become agents of change: How is an individual’s subjectivity, their idea of who they are, their particular way of making sense of themselves and of the social world, developed? How is it that we find the words, the concepts, the ideas, with which to say who we are? How do we becomes one who takes up or resists various discursive practices, who modifies one practice in relation to another – who chooses between various positions and practices made available? (p. 345) What becomes apparent is that in theorising any image of children and childhood risks homogenising children within their childhood and if teachers fail to generate opportunities for divergent ways of children seeing and making sense of the world, we risk reverting to a universal conception despite diverse lived experiences. Although subject positionings of children and childhood admit to being unstable, non-unitary and contestable, even the weaving of subject positionings that work to (re)conceive children as active and contingent members of society and of childhood, risks limiting children’s world views, as any (adult-construed) discourse ultimately affect how children see themselves. Agency is (a) supposedly shared and participatory (enterprise), but there is a sense that an agentic child emerges only when the adult world authorises her/him, by 105


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providing necessary discursive and social resources and when a personal sense of agency is given to children (Davies, 1990). Ongoing critique and deconstruction is thus significant to avoiding limiting children through a use of conceptualisations that un/intentionally sustain adult control and children’s acquiescence.

a child with rights At first glance the child with rights is positioned as actively agentic, but a second glance reveals it is also permeated with passivity. Recently, in early childhood education, the ‘needy’ child has become a child with rights – to freedom, self-determination, equality and citizenship – but this is also a value-laden, problematic image maintaining the minority status of childhood, with children becoming subjects of an emancipatory project (Moss & Petrie, 2002). Children’s needs are reinscribed to a human rights discourse that makes issues visible and more readily contestable. But, although this entitles children, as young human beings, to be active agents with personal desires for enacting personal goals, children remain under the jurisdiction of adults and are not entirely autonomous. There is scope for independent thought and action and some capability for children to act on their own behalf, but rights tend to be granted by adults (Bird, 2003). Also, the child with rights still needs protection against oppression (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005), this protection assuming expert-adult knowledge of children’s needs and desires. Not denying that protection from abuse may be necessary, this still assumes a vulnerability that exacerbates inequitable, inferior positioning in both family and society. Futhering the problematic, the notion of the free thinking child with rights assumes cultural homogeneity in regard to the place and limits of autonomous actions, and tension arises between understandings of individual rights and collective interdependence within diverse culturally located families/whānau/communities23. Cannella and Viriru’s (2004) understanding is that the adult|child hierarchy works through all discourses to colonise children: Our Enlightened, modern, and even postmodern discourses have conspired to create a group of the invisibly colonized – those who are so dominated that they are disqualified (without adult awareness) as human beings…While we would not hesitate to stress that children themselves do not necessarily accept or function within this colonization, we would stress the ideas that within the adult mind and constitution, the colonization of children is complete and without question. (Cannella & Viruru, 2004, p. 118, italics added)

23

Whānau is the extended family, which includes not only blood relatives but also others closely connected within everyday living experiences of parents and children.

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That children reject adult’s colonising their childhoods is demonstrated by children’s expressions of power-fullness, for example, in Marcy resisting adult demands on her activity (See Letter to Marcy in Preceding echoes) and in Tim’s confronting my colonising of his space (See the Becomingchild(ren) becoming-power-full plateau). However, for the moment, a rights discourse seems useful for including children in wider societal understandings of entitlements and responsibility as it disrupts the ‘expert needs discourse’ (Bird, 2003, p. 43) and opens (to) possibilities for children’s active participation in decision-making about their childhoods and their learning. Both children and adults are entitled to be heard, to have their concerns taken into account; and children and adults are obliged to listen to, and take into account others’ concerns. Individual and collective rights of children and adults are co-implicated – children become social participants, with adults being seen as ‘protecting children’s rights, rather than protecting children’(Moss & Petrie, 2002, p. 106, original italics). (E)merging from/with/in the agentic young human being with rights is the rich child.

the rich child The rich child (Moss & Petrie, 2002), commonly associated with Reggio Emilia philosophy, operates in an agentic setting. This child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent, social and an interdependent agent, understood as a member of the social group of childhood, which is important in its own right and as a significant phase of life that leaves traces on adulthood. The concern is with who the child is now, with the adult world bearing responsibility for ensuring children have opportunities within the present, rather than regarding children as redemptive agents of their own future. Children’s extensive relations among parents, adults, children, their communities and wider society are of great importance within the rich child image. Such extended relations decentres the nuclear family as being totally responsible for children’s welfare, with both parents and children viewed as contributing members of communities, which reciprocate by providing support. These relationships acknowledge that childhood is played out in many settings. Children’s friendships represent ways for more active involvement in the wider community, as together children generate their own cultural expressions to enhance their ‘sphere of social agency’ (Moss & Petrie, 2002, p. 104). The rich child is a subjective person with citizenship rights, not an object of adult demands; collectively, children as citizens are a social group in their own right with rights and strengths. This interdependent approach works to ensure that children’s optimal involvement contributes to an accrual of collective benefits to the adult world (Lero, 2000; Moss & Penn, 1996).

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However, in that the development of children’s human capital is an investment in the social capital of the adult world, this rich child again becomes a potential object of exploitation, a resource for future investment. When children are considered fully operational, young human beings, spaces open for genuine interdependence among children and adults and their social worlds. Yet such spaces are rife with ambiguities and contradiction, as rich children express their own flows of power-fullness, their richness becomes a resource for the adult world, for example. Considering the complexity involved, allocating specific subject positionings to children and childhood through classification that is aligned with understandings that adult worlds deem either desirable or problematic continues to confound the conversation.

the rich child and Te Whāriki The rich child is conceivably a desirable and readily acceptable image for Kindergarten practice in Aotearoa New Zealand, which aims to provide agentic environments that foster children as active participants in their own learning. Much of Te Whāriki can also be read as supporting this rich child image. Suggestive of this is the underpinning philosophical aspiration for children ‘to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society’ (Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 9). This highlights children’s family and community as places of ‘socially and culturally meditated learning’ and the critical role of ‘reciprocal and responsive relationships’ among these (p. 9). Positive aspects of the rich child’s agency and rights are alluded to, as children are afforded opportunities to ‘reflect on alternative ways for doing things; make connections across time and place; establish different kinds of relationships; and encounter different points of view’ (p. 9). However, subject positionings are both affirmed and problematised in the principles and strands of Te Whāriki, as conceptual understandings of children as agentic, with rights and rich are entangled with western assumptions of children as essentially weak, needy and embryonic adult, these latter assumptions in part productive of providing early childhood services (Moss & Petrie, 2002). The principles of empowerment, holistic development, family and community, and relationships are suggestive of agency, but not without difficulties. Although one side of empowerment is that ‘children will have the opportunity to create and act on their own ideas’ (Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 40), a flip side is problematic in that a superior someone from the outside endows children with dispositions for supposedly operating more effectively. Also, holistic development weaves together intricate patterns of linked experience and meaning rather than emphasising the acquisition of discrete skills and expects that early childhood practitioners will have ‘an understanding of 108


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Māori views on child development’ (p. 41), but the informing developmental perspectives of Te Whāriki are based in psychology. The principles of family and community and relationships seem to cross cultures more readily, but in an essentially westernised educational environment honouring ideas that ‘different cultures have different child-rearing patterns’ and ‘culturally appropriate ways of communicating should be fostered’ (p. 42) is not straightforward. In relation to the former, Te Whāriki assumes independence is an ideal, but what of cultures who prioritise interdependence? Also, not all cultures deem it appropriate for children to express their opinions and desires in adult fora, for example. The strands are similarly complicated in their linkages to images of children and childhood. Although the intent of the strands promotes a rich child, like the principles, this is culturally bound. The strand of well-being~mana atua states: ‘The health and well-being of the child are protected and nurtured’ (Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 15). Keeping young human beings safe, physically and emotionally, is to be lauded but this strand does operate from within the weak~innocent~needy image, perpetuating the adult|child binary and valorising the powerful, competent adult. What is deemed ‘safe’ thus requires critique. Communication~mana reo reflects the image of a child with rights, stating: ‘The languages and symbols of their own and other cultures are promoted and protected’ (p. 16) but, again, this requires deconstruction of colonisation. Exploration~mana aotūroa, in which ‘the child learns through active exploration of the environment’ (p.16), promotes an agentic child, who is expected to develop reasoning strategies, but this is a problematic modernist attribute. In belonging~mana whenua, ‘children and their families feel a sense of belonging’ (p. 15), which links to the promotion of extensive relations of the rich child image although families of traditional Māori, Pacific Peoples or Asian families, for example, may find that ‘limits and boundaries of acceptable behaviour’ (p. 15) differ from those promoted in westernised settings. Contribution~mana tangata expects that: ‘Opportunities for learning are equitable, and each child’s contribution is valued’ (p. 16). A simplified translation of mana tangata is ‘human rights, integrity, status’ (Ryan, 1997, p. 143), including honouring cultural rights24. Social and spiritual connotations are embodied in Māori understandings in that mana tangata is about not standing alone but being at one with one’s people. This conflicts with the individualised child with rights suggested in Te Whāriki whereby ‘children are affirmed as individuals’ (Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 16). These linkages between well-being~mana atua, communication~mana reo, exploration~mana aotūroa, belonging~mana whenua, and contribution~mana tangata present as a

24

The Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples First International Conference on the Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Whakatane 12-18 June 1983 Aotearoa New Zealand. www.fphlcc.ca/downloads/mana-tangata.pdf accessed 19.02.09

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complex system, lacking coherence – as soon as a link is made it is disrupted in a kind of de~territorialising recursivity so establishing any sort of orderly pattern related to specific subject positionings is impossible. This lack of consistency is unsettling to developmentally based thinking. Conceivably, a rich child application of Te Whāriki opens possibilities for meaningful linkages in valuing whānau relations that are extensive, collective and interdependent. But, a cursory check of the goals for children’s development attached to the strands again highlights the inherent westernised thinking, and not only in terms of ‘development’. For example: ‘an expectation that [children] take responsibility for their own learning’ (Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 84) implies an individualistic approach, not necessarily one of interdependence; and, developing ‘working theories about Planet Earth and beyond’ (p. 90) implies use of western, modernist scientific perspectives – what about mythological explanations of Māori and Pacific People’s cultures? Also, the expectation for children to develop ‘a growing recognition and enjoyment of “nonsense” explanations’ (p. 90) is intriguing. But what is ‘nonsense’? It sounds rather like the adult|child binary at work, positioning (westernised) adult understandings over children’s interpretations about how the world works. I now move the conversation about children and childhood towards the Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginary of becoming-child(ren) (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). This imaginary (introduced in Preceding echoes, pp. 14 & 20) works to disrupt notions of the child as incomplete, immature and passive and childhood as universal and thus normalisable.

…a becoming-intermezzo… Before elaborating a Deleuzo-Guattarian understanding of becoming (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987), it is important to note that this is significantly different from psycho/sociological perspectives. In psychological and sociological terms ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ work to reduce the child to always being in states of incomplete development while becoming a different person (Nelson, 2007). The Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginary of ‘becoming’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, pp. 232-309) offers possibilities for working a conception of children as embodied be(com)ings. ‘Imaginary’ (as explained in Preceding echoes) moves outside ‘image’ and stretches ‘subject positioning.’ An imaginary is dynamic, a ‘symbolic glue’ flow operating in spaces of transitions and transactions; it is ‘sticky,’ ‘it catches on as it goes’ (Braidotti, 2001, p. 384) lacking transparency and purity. It is a characterising affect, a force affect involving the activity of thinking rather than the thought itself. This ‘becoming’ imaginary thus considers children and childhood as subjective structures, characterised by continuous change and alteration so that they are no longer (in)complete bodies, 110


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but perceivable as alternative epistemologies, in which dynamic processes are ongoing, being both subject and object of perpetual change through de/territorialisation. That is, systems are in flux, recursively changing. Becoming, in this sense, works as an antidote to being and identity – these presuming a stable, rational individual – instead conceiving of bodies as constantly changing assemblages of forces. The notion of becoming – as in becoming-child – is a way to ‘get outside the dualisms…to be-between, to pass between, [to act and be with/in] the intermezzo’ or the milieu (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 277). Working rhizomatically, with the Deleuzo-Guattarian becoming-child, opens possibilities for ‘new’25 linkages and intersections around (re)conceptualising children and childhood, for exploring the situated production of subjectivities of children in ways that decentre hierarchical arrangements, which in the past have specified and regulated ‘normality’. Becoming-children and becoming-adult are embodied with/in common territory; re(con)ceiving childhood is thus a(n) (e)merging hybrid amidst an array of troubled discourses.

becomingWithin the web-like interactions of rhizomatic thinking, interconnectedness and intersections, becoming is not about becoming anything specific, rather, it is what happens ‘in-between’ – ‘becoming is the very dynamism of change, situated between heterogenous terms and tending towards no particular goal or end-state’ (Stagoll, 2005). Becomings are always a flow of becomingsomething, such as becoming-child; the happening of becoming gives birth to an emerging subject in moments and spaces of liminality, at intersections with/in in-betweenness, within the ‘inter’ of interconnectedness. ‘Becoming produces nothing other than itself’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 238), it is the becoming itself that matters, ‘not the supposedly fixed terms through which that which becomes passes’ (p. 238). A line of becoming is not defined by points that it connects or by points that compose it; on the contrary, it passes between points, it comes up through the middle…a line of becoming has neither beginning or end, departure nor arrival, origin or destination…A line of becoming has only a middle. The middle is not an average; it is fast motion, it is the absolute speed of movement. A becoming is always in the middle; one can only get to it by the middle. A becoming is neither one nor two, nor the relation of the two; it is the in-between, the border or line of flight…. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 293, original italics)

25

Following Lather’s (1994) reference to Deleuze (1992), I use ‘new’ in the sense of ‘creativity which marks the ability to transform, to break down present practices in favour of future ones’ (Lather, 1994, p. 45).

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From within this in-betweenness, the subject is thus viewed as a ‘flux of successive becomings’ (Braidotti, 2001, p. 391). In this complex thinking the subjectivity of embodied subjects (bodies) becomes ‘a play of forces, a transformer and relay of energy, a surface of intensities’ (p. 391), and for singular children as subjects, ‘the child [does] not become; it is becoming itself that is a child’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 277, italics added). Amidst this happening of intersecting forces and spatiotemporal connections, life~work~play becomes a passage of all kinds of inseparable becomings, an endlessly becoming-multiplicity.

becoming-child(ren) Becoming for Deleuze and Guattari (1987) is incommensurable with the static, sociological notion of being as becoming. Understandings of becoming-child and becoming-adult are ‘not a correspondence between relations’ (p. 237); it is not about a child becoming an adult. This DeleuzoGuattarian becoming thus dispels notions of incompleteness; becoming does not involve a series of progression and/or regression (p. 238) culminating in specific ends, such as incompetent child developing into rational adult. Rather, becoming works within liminal spaces, which emerge around borderlines and boundaries, at intersections where crossing-over (of thoughts, thinking, doing, acting) occurs. Spaces for incipiently different ways of thinking thus emerge from/with/in such states of in-betweens, middles, milieus. In contrast to any system or order associated with psychological and sociological understandings that require subjects and culmination in achieving completeness, Deleuze and Guattari (1987) work with ‘zones of proximity and undecidability’ (p. 507), in which there is ‘no preformed logical order’ (p. 251). In this condition, ‘becoming is a verb with a consistency all its own; it does not reduce to, or lead back to, “appearing,” “being,” “equalling,” or “producing”’ (p. 239). The nub of becoming for Deleuze and Guattari concerns not such much what it is, but how it is qualified. For example, it is not about identifying with something, it is about qualifying being (as becoming-child), in such a way that ‘a becoming lacks a subject distinct from itself’ (p. 238), the act of becoming is all it ever is. Becoming-child(ren) is thus an expression of becoming. In A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987), the full title for plateau 10, which discusses becoming, is ‘1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible…’ (p. 232). Each plateau title gives a date and text that is significant for the content, with which it engages. In this instance, the date 1730 is a reference to the prevalence of a belief in vampirism in Eastern Europe at this time. With this folkloric archetype Deleuze and Guattari suggest an imaginary that provokes notions of becoming-intensity, becoming-animality 112


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and becoming-imperceptibility. Such an imaginary enables an approach to understanding becoming that perturbs the usual structural way of imagining that favours reductionist and historic relations of subjects/objects. Thus, in becoming, ‘animal is defined not by characteristics (specific, generic, etc.) but by populations that vary from milieu to milieu or within the same milieu’ (p. 239). In a similar way, becoming-child is defined not by characteristics but by populations of children in diverse milieus – thus my preference for becoming-child(ren), which embodies a plurality. Becoming-child is children expressing becoming, and children’s play(ing) is an expression of that becoming. Becoming-child(ren) is not evolutionary or filial, it is not progressive or serial; it is involutionary, it in-volves creative symbiosis, or in other words, enactive-interactive-play(ing). In the same way that mechanical play is the usually imperceptible allowance for movement in a machine to enable it to run, so ‘becoming’ is an imperceptible allowance for movement that enables children to operate in/through their growing and learning or in ‘living~learning’ (Sellers, W., 2008). Just as play is imperceptible when the machine is running, so becoming is imperceptible when children are living~learning, with both living~learning and becoming simultaneously in play. Therefore it is not a matter of what becoming is or does; rather, it is about its workings. Becoming happens between~through~among~with~in coursing of beings doing with~in de~territorialising spaces, with/in undefin/ed/able territories, during which, various criteria come into play in the course of events unfolding. Despite this imperceptibility of becoming, we do ‘see’ becoming at play – rather like we ‘see’ a stream of water, which we perceive in water flowing. Although, perhaps it is more about witnessing and about presencing experiences, rather than seeing. Such presence of/with/in experience is perceptible in the following tale. Semetsky (2006) re-tells a Russian story of a four year old kindergarten child who, through her familiarity with some stories, pretended she could read until she was presented (presenced?) with a book she had not seen/heard before. Mortified by her impending exposure to the group of children listening, imperceptibly, what emerged from her panic was becoming-child becoming-reader. As she opened her mouth to confess that she could not really read, her eyes fell on the page and she heard herself quietly and rhythmically saying the words: One half of me was reading, and the other was listening in sublime horror…I was reading page after page as if in a dream…simultaneously I was seeing the text all at once and letters very black and pictures very bright and myself too surrounded by the kids. (Semetsky, 2006, p. 109)

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The book ended, the children disbanded, the child was alone with her new knowledge; she could read, albeit without understanding how. Later she feared she had forgotten and took a book from her mother’s shelf. To her amazement, she recognised a phrase even though it made no sense to her. In this story, ‘the concept becomes the narrative, and the subject becomes [the] subject of expression’ (Deleuze, 1993, p. 127), telling of a dynamic process of becoming-reader, an expression of her becoming-child. Without explicit instruction she had learned to read; she interacted with the book and the setting – the fear, the teacher, the group of children – and actualised a virtual thought experiment. As Semetsky points out, her becoming-child could not have happened (in this moment) without these immanent connections – ‘conditions enabling the possibility of accessing the otherwise inaccessible may indeed be created and realized in experience…Something that was virtual…became actualised in a singular experience in the material world’ (Deleuze, 1993, p. 120). Becoming-child becoming-imperceptibility becomingreader becoming-multiplicity linking child~learning~playing~reading~understanding~ curriculum~currere… Although Guss (2005) does not work directly with Deleuzian philosophy, my reading is that she illustrates becoming as she troubles the identity of children’s dramatic play(ing). She shows children engaged in fantasy play(ing) being in ‘a state of continual becoming’ (p. 240). A game of ‘house’ quickly morphs into a performance of fantasy actions, ‘generative and expressive of personality and culture [becoming] a process of discovery of the here and now, rather than a rehearsal of (male-dominated, adult-dominated) models for functioning in later life’ (p. 241). In what I interpret as a play of becoming-child, Tessa and Hilde (children in the data of her research) segue through a game about a wolf. Tessa singularly and simultaneously is becoming-mother~wolf catcher~props person~sound producer~wolf~narrator~ young goat~pig~dramatist, momentarily becoming-each several times over. Hilde’s roles are less varied as becoming-narrator~dramatistnarrator~wolf-catcher. In Guss’s analysis, Tessa is engaged in processes of constant change: of the fairytale narratives, actions and meanings about the wolf; of the dramatic monologue that her teacher used in telling wolf stories to the children; and of herself. In a Deleuzo-Guattarian reading, Tessa is playing out some (aspects) of her becoming. As she segues through the characters, she reveals herself as becoming-child playing out her understandings of the various characters. While the Russian story (Semetsky, 2006) explicates the immanence of becoming-child, Tessa and Hilde (Guss, 2005) make visible more of the complexity involved in becoming-child(ren). This involves enactive~interactive play(ing) of each singular becoming-child and a creative symbiosis, severally becoming child(ren) (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 3). 114


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Using Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) imaginary of territorialising movements to trouble the notion of identity of the learning of the young child, Borgnon (2007) shows the workings of becomingchild in a creative demonstration of the expression of a becoming-child. She creates a palimpsest by combining the image of a child starting to walk with the movements of a surfer on a surfboard, (re)conceiving ‘the child’ as becoming-child. This linkage is not to redefine how children learn to walk, but to open up another way of appreciating one child’s – (Stella Nona’s) – manner of learning to walk. (Figure 8)

Figure 8: Surfer’s movements superimposed on Stella Nona’s novice steps. (Source: Thor Jonsson in Borgnon, 2007, p. 265)

Borgnon (2007) describes the imagery: From this perspective we could as well understand Stella Nona’s apprenticeship of walking in terms of a surfer’s movements; the lying on the board with the hands well placed in the height of the armpits, the fast jump up with the feet close to the hands, into a squat position, the slight raising of the legs, the arms balancing horizontal to the body. (p. 265) Stella Nona is now ‘a hybridised child; a child who, for a moment at least, escapes a fixed definition. She is no longer the child with the attributes of naturalness and development; she is a mixture of all that and the skilled, closer-to-his-twenties, wild-at-heart guy’ (Borgnon, 2007, pp. 264-65, original italics). Her becoming-child as a beginning-walker is expressed as movements 115


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of de~territorialisation – Stella Nona disrupts the adult|child binary, as does Borgnon, passing through the divide to be understood from the position of surfer. Adult and child are no longer separate identities; rather, each is already always the other. In passing through the generational divide, Stella Nona is ‘the becoming child of the adult as well as of the child’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 277). This morphing of toddler and surfer illuminates becoming-child(ren) as rhizomatic, disturbing and decentering any developmental or socially reproductive agenda: The girl or the child do not become, it is the becoming itself that is a child or a girl. The child does not become an adult any more than the girl becomes a woman; the girl is the becomingwoman of each sex, just as the child is the becoming-young of every age…it is Age itself that is a becoming-child.’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 277) As well, in dispensing with sequential, age-related developmental stages, body and mind are linked and are operational in a ‘new flux of self’ (Braidotti, 2003, p. 46). Understanding Stella Nona as becoming-child~beginning-walker moves outside conventional territory and reforms (as) another territory. But it does not ‘stop’ ‘there’, ‘within’ ‘a’ ‘new’ territory of space-time. It keeps moving to resist any latent over-coding, to disrupt any organising tendency. What happens is that we become involved in constant change and alteration through movements of de~territorialisation. As we and the territories within which we operate are always already changing, so an assemblage of forces expressed through encounters with one another moves to negotiate the territory, through spatiotemporal connections. Braidotti (2001) explains such an assemblage of forces that activate becoming thus: ‘A pattern of de-territorialization takes place [between us and Stella Nona], which runs parallel to and in-and-out of [our] respective and mutual existences, but certainly does not stop there’ (p. 405). The becoming-child of Stella Nona becoming walker as becoming-walker intersects with the becoming-child within adult understandings. All in flux, dynamically (re)constituting in connections with in/animate others, constantly moving, continuously becoming. So that: ‘In this shifting moment, the condition of childhood comes gradually to be seen no longer as an unformed adult subjectivity, but as a form of subjectivity in itself’ (Kennedy, 2002, p. 157), representative of possible worlds yet to be encountered by adults. Becoming is not so much the changing, it is more a continuously (re)constituing movement, which embodies dynamics of change and dynamic changes, and which having achieved a condition of alterity simultaneously dissolves into the movement of more recursively changing processes. Becoming embodies mobility, as forms of motion and rest, as speed and slowness, as points and 116


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flows of intensities. Grosz (1994a) says: becomings are ‘always a multiplicity, the movement of (trans)formation from one “thing” to another that in no way that resembles it’ (p. 204). So, becoming-child is not about who the child might be working towards becoming – either now as child, and particularly not as an adult-constructed ideal child, or as future-adult. The imaginary, becoming-child(ren) is a multiplicity of processes of becoming. It is not about being or becoming the child who will then become adult. Rather, the becoming-child co-exists with/in itself as expressions of becomings, within spaces of alterity, different from how they were before. The alterity of becoming is not a singular endeavour – ‘Becoming is always double, that which one becomes becomes no less than the one that becomes’ (Grosz, 1994b, p. 305). This means that as becoming-child s/he becomes no less, yet neither does s/he become more; the child-becoming-child intensifies the singularity while the singularity intensifies through conditions of continuous alterity. Becoming-child always already changes and (re)constitutes her/him/self, indiscernibly, imperceptibly without culmination. To dispel any structuralist ideas that becoming is a correspondence of relationships, a resemblance, an imitation or even a series of progressions/regressions by explaining a becoming as that which is in-between, Deleuze and Guattari (1987) are saying that it is a middle comprised of movement, of lines of flight. Thus, becoming-child is a work of passage, is always in the middle. For example, in the playing of their games, (within the data of re(con)ceiving childhood in curriculum) each/any/every becoming-child embodies and is embodied within a multiplicity of becomings. In processes of becoming, linkages are formed among various characters and roles. As they flow with/in the spoken or unspoken producing of the game, they morph, unexpectedly, into various characters – mother becomes pilot becomes doctor, baby becomes co-pilot becomes nurse becomes sick baby, the characters being played out both singularly and all-at-once. (See data in the Play(ing) plateau.) Each character draws, and is drawn by others into zones of undecidability, a flow of energy and movement as one becomes the other(s), becoming-child(ren) constantly in flux, so that all that is real is the becoming itself.

three becoming(s)-child(ren) In the following juxtaposition of (the) becomings of three young people special in my living~life, my grandchildren, I offer other possible readings of what it means to be (a) young child(ren) within childhood(s) in some ways far apart – as a one year old, three year old and five year old, in London, Sydney and Auckland – and in other ways sharing a togetherness of enacting their becomings. Through these poetic inscriptions, I attempt to reinscribe the worlds of these children and perturb the authoritative tendency of academic text by welcoming these glimpses of Caelan, Taylah and 117


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Leo. I also seek to disrupt the authority of behaviourist and developmental interpretations by leaving the children’s activity to do the talking, without intervention of researcher analysis and without providing any (more) interpretive and/or de/constructive literature. Although the poems were generated through adult wor(l)ds, written collaboratively with the parents,26 I have endeavoured to dispense with an adult-centric authorial voice, inasmuch as that is ever possible, to (re)story a few moments of becoming-child(ren) becoming-intense becoming-imperceptible becoming-power-full becoming-curriculum.

These becoming(s)-child(ren) (re)imagine a heterogeneity of children’s manner of experiencing learning~living. They offer opportunities for appreciating the(ir) (e)merging hybridity with/in the(ir) flux of successive becoming(s). What is at least momentarily perceptible is the dynamism of change of becoming that is these children. With these glimpses into their learning~living, I leave this plateau‌

26

Thanks to Mel and Ben, Alicia and Hamish, and Toby and Pen for contributing to these poems. Thanks and love also to Caelan, Leo and Taylah for opening (my) thinking otherwise.

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leaving the plateau Stepping outside of images of children and associated discourses about characteristics of childhood, I have presented an incipiently different space, an imaginary of becoming-child(ren). As adults we can participate in this space as bodies attempting generative understandings, rather than as adults characterising children and their childhoods in our terms of presumptive understandings. But we must now function as becoming-adults in our relationships with becoming-children. Becomingchildren, and particularly what this means for young children, are no longer inferior beings maturing into a superior condition of adulthood. Becoming-children are actualised as young human beings living their becoming-childhoods. Through becoming they are autobiographically, as in currere, expressing their understandings of their lives. What they will be(come) is (im)perceptible only within their immanent becoming. The condition of children and childhood becomes conditional. A way opens for young children to (re)imagine their understandings of/as becominglearners, to show how their play(ing) (out) of their learning produces (their/our) understandings of curriculum and what it might become. Childhood is now perceived as an ongoing phenomenon, a never-ending experience and while it is a part of life that warrants attention for what it is in the present (its presencing), for young children in particular, as the future opens out before us, past memories of our childhoods (as becomingchild~becoming adult) are unsettled and unsettling, requiring continuous (re)imagin(ary)ing. Like Silin (2003), I wonder whether adulthood is merely a time in which we have expanded, not necessarily improved ways for understanding our experience. So that becoming-children~ becoming-adults (together) live interstitially between past and future, and childhood becomes a dynamic presence in (our) adult lives as well as a time already lived. This intangible, interlocutory, imperceptible philosophical space of interstiality is created through ‘negotiation between spaces, where contrasting rationalities can work together but without the notion of a single transcendent reality’ (Turnbull, 2000, cited in Gough, 2003, p. 67). Always already both becoming-child and becoming-adult always already both becoming-child and becoming-adult always already…and so on…

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Play(ing) opening the plateau Theory of children’s play and actualities of their playing is the work of this plateau about play(ing). What transpires in this conversation is a play-full engagement with Play which is more than play (Trueit, 2006, p. 53) through a rhizopoietic juxtaposition. From this emerges a tripled juxtaposition of my interaction with two transcriptions – transcriptions of a data snippet of children playing a game in the family corner and a transcription of the same children (re)playing their play(ing) as they watched the video of themselves playing. These juxtapositions are interactive pieces, an embodied ‘analysis’ in which each text works with the other(s).

conceptions of play Much has been written about play from diverse disciplinary fields, such as biology, ethology, folklore, literary criticism, leisure science, education, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and communications. But it is psychological and sociological perspectives that dominate in early childhood education, with play considered a natural condition of childhood and the ‘natural media of children’ (Rhedding-Jones, 2004, p. 244). The pedagogy of play is basic to early childhood studies but it is often given minimal attention in recent texts (see, for example, Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, 2001). In the literature, play is presented as progress, power, fantasy and self, adaptation, existential optimism, hegemony, social context, transformation, performance, and world upside down (Sutton-Smith, 1995, 1997) and, although some take a discursive approach involving characteristics of play and lingering historical discourses, the theory addressed remains primarily with the developmental (Ailwood, 2003). However, any conversation about play(ing) cannot deny the complexity involved, as Sutton-Smith’s (1997) indexed references for play exemplifies (p. 275). A critical view considers the concept of play as elusive, as defying definition, and those who attempt definitions often do so without concern that it is a contested issue. Within an Australian context, the following excerpt from the Queensland Early Years Curriculum Guidelines presents an explanation of children’s play experiences prior to entering kindergarten, in which play is constituted as a particular western construct that valorises cognitive development: Children play and learn in particular ways in early childhood settings…Some children may not have developed strategies for learning through play in educational settings. These children may come from families where play is not seen as contributing to children’s intellectual development 120


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or their play opportunities are limited by materials and space. Some parents and relatives will join in children’s play and influence the type of play. For example, men are more likely to engage in physical play, especially with sons, and to play in ways that involve fine- and grossmotor skills and visual exploration of the environment. Girls may experience more verbal and “school-like” experiences, although many parents encourage similar play for both girls and boys. Play for many boys is limited to running, chasing, hiding and acting out their favourite superhero’s adventures. In view of these experiences, some children will need to learn new ways to play that promote learning. (Queensland Studies Authority, 2006, p. 20) Although this alludes to different cultural understandings of play, it offers none other than that of a dominant majority. In theoretical terms, it presents a limited and limiting understanding of what play and playing is, and lacks critique. In comparison, Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996), the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood curriculum statement supposedly works with bi-cultural philosophical principles – indigenous Māori and a westernised perspective – but, similar to the implications of the Queensland statement, it is westernised understandings that underpin its workings. Te Whāriki takes a non-prescriptive approach and makes no attempt to define play although the implication is that play is a natural condition of early childhood activity and that all children play. Most often it refers to play as exploration, but also in terms of communication, contributing to social interactions and as part of a sense of belonging in the setting. Although there is no limiting definition, there is little attempt to rescue play from ‘natural’ social and psychological understandings and, in the text, there are also remnants of Parten’s (1933, cited in, Hyun, 1998) outdated typology of play as notions of solitary, parallel and co-operative play. Language as an ‘intellectual technology’ (Rose, 1999) is a means for rationalising play, describing it as natural, spontaneous, pleasurable, developmentally appropriate, dramatic, free, pretend, exploratory, representational, creative, sand, to name a few. In recent times, discussions about what constitutes so-called normal play, age-based phases of play and types of play have dominated, producing matrices of regulation, informed by developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), legitimising the adult gaze for monitoring progress (Bredekamp, 1987; Bredekamp & Copple, 1997; Fleer, 1995; Reifel, 1993). Establishing such specific sets of language and knowledge about play has become effective in governing early childhood education and this predominance of thought is made rational, technical and practical. This is significant to both producing and silencing children, curriculum and teachers, the corollary being observation of play for management of children. Play as a cultural artefact and the naturally playing child as a social construct are seldom questioned let alone critiqued (Cannella, 1997; Rhedding-Jones, 2003). The centrality afforded play within this 121


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array of discourses and the effects of such positioning in early childhood education is culturally significant as how play is understood varies among cultures problematises play as an artefact of a white, middle-class culture (Cannella & Viruru, 1997). Although westernised sociocultural understandings present play as a community of practice, reflecting the spaces and relationships of children’s social and cultural worlds (Wood, 2004), these tend to be dominated by developmental theories. Together they work to normalise and regulate children’s behaviour by classifying play as, for example: appropriate/inappropriate; social/individual; or advanced/delayed. These discourses then become technologies for governing young children and early childhood education (Cannella, 1997; Gibbons, 2007). Despite DAP attracting considerable critique (Hatch et al., 2002; Jipson, 1991) when play is considered as irrational, unreal and not sensible, such trivialisation operates to separate childhood and adulthood and to distance children from the adult world. This separatist perspective ignores similarities and valorises childhood play, masking social and power relations that operate within play. Trivialisation also creates a separation of play from work. In the late nineteenth century, compulsory schooling pre-empted children’s involvement in the workforce (Hendrick, 1997), further distancing children and childhood from adults and their work-a-day world (Cannella & Viruru, 1997). However, this separation of work and play folds back on itself as early childhood education has used the Froebelian notion that play is a child’s work (see Liebschner, 1992), to produce itself. So while children are excluded from adult-type work, play becomes the site of children’s work, the implication being that adult work is more meritorious than the trivialised play~work of childhood. Children and their play~work are then open to adult influence and management, even though teachers are challenged to reflectively examine their practice (Cullen, 2003); power relations enmeshed in play-as-work are thus problematised as a technique of social control. In espousing play as the work of young children, adults influence, construct and manage play environments that reflect culturally created agenda for controlling children (Cannella & Viruru, 1997). Further, from a more technicist perspective, the player-as-worker is shaped and managed according to principles of work, the playing child becoming ‘a realisation of a more efficient means of producing a self-managing subject’ (Gibbons, 2007, p. 303). In Sutton-Smith and Magee’s (1989) analysis, play perceived as fun trivialises it as a structure of curricular performance while psychological and cognitive readings of children’s play attempts an order and rationality that satisfies adult’s perspectives and desires to control play and refine children’s behaviour. From an ideologically similar understanding, Ranz-Smith (2007) suggests that fostering a sense of play in the learning process might threaten adult perceptions of what learning 122


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ought to be. Alongside this, Ailwood (2003) reveals the culturally mediated, adult-imposed relations of power and control that are concealed within the taken-for-granted concept of play. Also, in Cannella and Viruru’s (1997) analysis, play is a cultural artefact and is central also to the (re)production of western culture. For De Castell and Jenson (2003), play and learning are mutually constitutive and their conjunction is transformative to both. Considered together, these offer possibilities for different ways of (re)thinking play despite the literature lacking anything that deviates from the traditional psychologically and sociologically developmental perspectives.

play-fully (re)conceiving play Guss , however, brings some creativity to her reconceptualising of play, as a critically reflective, cultural activity. She devises a cultural-aesthetic methodology, which promotes children as powerfull players within their ‘play-culture’ (p. 233), reversing cultural hegemony and considering play as critical transformation, as a reflective process, not unlike Deleuzo-Guattarian ‘becoming’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). She shows how, ‘in the privacy of the children’s play-culture, they have the cultural occasion, space, and liberty to take control’ (Guss, 2005, p. 233), to question, speak for and transform themselves. As with the feminist challenge to male-dominated functioning in life, children experiment with and trouble standpoints, so that ‘[c]ultural hegemony can be turned on its head’ (p. 233). Guss demonstrates how ‘the aesthetic dimension contributes to the children’s ability to interpret and communicate meaning, as well as the aesthetic mode and production contribut[ing] to a strengthened child-cultural sphere’ (p. 235). Apart from Guss, I find little to inspire (re)newed ways of thinking ‘play’ in the literature…until I happen upon Donna Trueit’s (2006) Play which is more than play and other contributions to Semantic Play and Possibility in Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education. These articles at last inspire my attempt to (re)think play – playfully! Trueit invites another way of thinking about play, significantly different from the literature about play reviewed above. Referring to Bateson, she works with ‘binocular vision (double description) for enhanced depth of perception’ (Bateson, 1979, cited in Trueit, 2006, p. 97); and, reflecting poiesis (copying for creating, the work of her doctoral dissertation27), Trueit speculates on ‘new meanings’ around play through a conversation linked to mythopoetic discursive practices of archaic times (Trueit, 2006, p. 97). As I read her workings with mythopoetic understandings of ‘the play’ – its performance or playing by the players – I glimpse possibilities for (re)thinking play differently in

27

Trueit, Donna (2005). Complexifying the poetic: Toward a poiesis of curriculum. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisana State University.

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early childhood curriculum. There is also a sense that perturbing a conventional interpretation of her article is a way to open (to) such possibilities. In a contiguous contribution to Semantic Play and Possibility, Doll (2006) discusses ‘a new sense of method’ (p. 87). He notes the importance of ‘inter (or trans) action’ between reader, writer and text as a reflective, creative, flexible, open, complex conversation that disrupts the rigidity of conventional, multiple step approaches to method. To achieve this, students (readers~writers) need to be supported in developing ‘their own personal habits (method) of thought and action’ (p. 87), that is, ‘personal ways of doing things’ (Dewey, 1916/1966, p. 171, cited in Doll, 2006, p. 87, italics added). As with the Deleuzo-Guattarian project, Doll suggests a ‘process of recursive iteration’ whereby a text, for example, ‘is looked at not only in terms of itself, but also in terms of its relationship with…[the philosophy or other reading] from which it emerged, and in terms of that which has yet-to-emerge’ towards exploring ‘the multiple pathways which connect and create’ (p. 88, italics added). This affirms I should indeed find my own way, a personal and creative approach to (re)reading Trueit’s text. But, there is more. In another contribution, Playing with our understandings, Smitherman Pratt (2006) presents Aoki’s considerations of what it means to ‘understand’, namely that understanding ‘is never static, fixed, or rigid; rather understanding is always changing, in flux, continually being renewed’ (p. 93). Reflecting on Smitherman Pratt’s reading of Aoki and reading this alongside Doll and Trueit, affirms that for my reading~writing to become the ‘generative space of possibilities’ that Aoki espouses, I need to enter spaces of ‘tensioned ambiguity’, spaces of both ‘and/not-and’, of ‘conjoining and disrupting’ wherein newness emerges’ (Aoki, 1996/2005, p. 318, cited in Smitherman Pratt, 2006, p. 93). Also, Gough’s (2006b) ‘rhizosemiotic play’, in which he demonstrates ‘the generativity of intertextual readings’ (p. 119), affirms my desire to play with Trueit’s text to find out what might happen by writing around it. He reminds me that Deleuze and Guattari (1987) urge experimenting with rhizome and that, like Richardson (2001), ‘I write because I want to find something out…to learn something that I did not know before I wrote it’ (p. 35)…and… I wonder if I am also experimenting with the writing to uncover what I do ‘know’ but need to ‘see’ written down, to drift with illuminations of the shadows. So, with ideas of how I might move towards generating a multiplicity of understanding ‘play’, I (re)turn to Trueit’s text; Hand (1988) helps explicate the approach I choose to take.

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In discussing the philosophical difference between Deleuze and Foucault, Hand (1988) notes that ‘both Deleuze and Foucault recognize that the relationship between their work resembles the partial and fragmentary relationships between theory and practice that can no longer be understood in terms of totalization’ (p. xlii, italics added). He goes on to present a series of ‘de-individualizing principles’ that Foucault identifies in Deleuze’s work, one of these being: ‘Develop action, thought, and desires by proliferation, juxtaposition, and disjunction, and not by subdivision and pyramidal hierarchization’ (p. xlii, italics added). In reading Trueit’s (2006) text (see also Trueit, 2002), I sense a relationship, partial and fragmentary, between our philosophies of curriculum, ways of thinking, style of writing and communication of ideas. Within conventional realms of academe, she is undoubtedly my superior, and although we have neither met nor spoken, a few email communications (the first in 2003) and her scholarly writing assures me she does not buy into pyramidal hierarchies. There is also a sense that to analyse the article, Play which is more than play, in the usual (linear) way is not going to satisfy my desires for proliferation as I seek ways of intensifying the rhizoanalysis that constitutes my thesis-assemblage. So, to avoid breaking up (subdividing) what I perceive as a lyrical text, I transpose the words that speak to me into a poietic format (reflecting the spirit of her article) and juxtapose my commentary alongside. It is a play-full negotiation of her work, one that Donna has approved (personal communication, February 10, 2009). In the next part of the reading~writing thinking~doing conversation, to disrupt a conventional interpretation of Trueit’s (2006) article, I transpose selections of her rather lyrical text about Play which is more than play into a poietic format, as a way of opening (her) ideas to a rhizomatic understanding of children’s play. Mostly the punctuation is as in Trueit’s text but occasionally I cut a sentence short and add a period; mostly the sentence structure is the same but in a few instances I trim words from the beginning of a sentence and replace a lower case letter with a capital; I omit her citations to optimise the lyricism and minimise disruptions to the flow.28 Centering the text disturbs any regression into a linearly focussed reading. By virtue of what I have included and what I have left out, the re-presentation inevitably reflects my subjective partiality of my understandings of her text, and associated limitations – ‘Are we not subject to our own limited “understandings” as we impose our interpretations on others?’ (Smitherman Pratt, 2006, p. 91). Another (re)reading on another day and I might change what is/not included – ‘understanding is always changing, in flux, continually being renewed’ (p. 93). This (re)reading/writing is processual; I have no idea before doing it what I might find, what might be revealed, what understandings might emerge. Similar to

28

See Trueit’s (2006) original text for her citations.

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Richardson (1992), I feel the urge to step aside from the dreary writing of ordinary academic prose; to po(i)etically enact ‘a threshold occasion: a moment of ecstasis when something moves away from its standing as one thing to become another.’29 I thus play with the idea of playing with Trueit’s text to see what happens, what spaces of possibilities might open. It is a play-full hopefully, for me, thought provoking (ad)venture with writing as a method of inquiry (Richardson & St.Pierre, 2005), in search of understandings incipiently different, about something I/we all assume to know – ‘We all know “play,” don’t we?’ (Trueit, 2006, p. 97) – because of my/our own childhood experiences. To open a previously unseen reading, what follows is a poiesis of Trueit’s text30 on the left with my commentary on the right. As I (re)orient my thinking, away from linearity, a stuttering of (re)thinking~(re)reading~(re)writing aggregates in a multiplicity. The following ‘rhizo-imaginary’ (Sellers, W., 2008) becomes a way of negotiating (through) this, negotiating (with) Donna31, as nomad(s). What follows is my rhizopoiesis, a conjoining of Trueit’s and my ideas, nomadically~rhizomatically generating a further disruption of ideas about play as presented in the early childhood literature. My reading~writing~thinking can be perceived, both abstractly and with/in the actual, as a ‘vertical dimension of intensities’ (Foucault, 1977, cited in Hand, 1988, p. xliv). Mythopoesis of play

A rhizo-poiesis: Children’s play(ing) of games

Play-fully engaging with Donna Trueit’s (2006) writing about Play Which Is More Than Play, in which I is Donna Much has been written about play from various disciplinary perspectives, about the value of play, its relationship to child development and to learning. We all know “play” don’t we?

The preceding overview of understandings of play illuminates various work(ing)s of the concept of play. In these, developmental approaches are mediated by sociocultural critiques, but modernist thinking pervades. The assumption that everyone knows about play is foregrounded here by Trueit’s facetious question, to which I respond in kind: Of course we all do/n’t know about play. Trueit’s question points to the tendency to trivialise ‘play’. Play goes hand-in-hand with (western)

29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poiesis. For more on Poiesis, see also, Threadgold (1997). To read the original, unaltered version, please see Trueit’s (2006) full text. 31 Breaking with academic convention of surnames seems appropriate for the moment. With (un)certain familiarity, I proceed. 30

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Why search for new meanings?

conceptions of childhood and as all adults have passed through (graduated from?) childhood. What more is there to know or be said about it? We played. Play happened. So what? Subjectively affected by my childhood experiences of play, I bring my scholarly understandings in to the play of play-fully responding to this question. In working (with/through) this mythopoesis, I am alert for re-newed ways of re-thinking play.

I [Donna] hope not only to open up modernist habits of thought, but also to suggest that play might be the organizing principle of a discursive practice.

Like Trueit, I want to disrupt the modernist agenda that pervades and suggest how we might re-think ‘play’. For the moment, I transpose (again) her ideas, this time from poem into scholarly discourses. In the poem, I map Trueit’s ideas; now, in this juxtaposition, I plug the Note: Discursive practices shape, and are shaped tracing back into the map in a (re)shaping of my by thought. thinking; in (re)thinking the poetical (re)reading of her text. As the organizing principle of mythopoetic (primarily oral) discursive practices,

I consult the OED for a definition of mythopoetic and find it used in reference to Māori: 1. = MYTHOPOEIC adj. 1914 Jrnl. Royal Anthropol. Inst. 44 139 It is clear that the ancestors of the Maori, in common with other races, strove to fathom the unfathomable... The above is part of the result, ideas evolved by a mythopoetic people (mythopoetic, 2008). Striving to fathom the unfathomable – not least in navigating to Aotearoa New Zealand, talking ideas into be(com)ing through storytelling or becoming-myth. What I am attempting here in a mythopoetic gesture?

play signifies recursive relations, dynamics, and liminality characteristic of an open system of representation,

I engage with Trueit’s projected flow of movement through play – read play ambiguously here, as performance and as constantly changing movement – with recursivity, interrelating systems, speed and flow, thresholds of in-betweenness, openings. Complex, yes, and hard to shake off modernist trappings of representation – language, discourses and the notion of representation itself. Biesta and Osberg (2007) outline complexity’s challenge to representation: a static, passive, or representational view of knowledge relies on a binary understanding, ‘which holds that the world is simply present in and of itself and that we can acquire knowledge of it…[a] binary logic of representational

one that has far greater complexity than the modernist practices of representation that continue to hold us captive.

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epistemology…that there is a real world that knowledge somehow reflects’ (p. 24); ‘that knowledge is an accurate representation of something that is separate from knowledge itself (Osberg, Biesta, & Cilliers, 2008, p. 213). Rather, knowledge and reality ‘are part of the same emerging complex system which is never fully “present” in any (discrete ) moment in time’ (p. 213). These authors call this ‘emergence’. Emergence explicates active and adaptive understandings ‘towards questions about engagement and response’ (p.213), releasing us from modernist captivity. In modernist discursive practices one observes play, objectifies play as a “thing” or an “event,” and represents “play” definitely. However, modernist discursive practices are (1) very different than the dominant discursive practices that preceded them; and (2) these prior practices probably cannot be fully appreciated from our now too distant stance. [But,] we can speculate––and it is necessary for us to do so, because in regard to “methods of representation and the recasting of meaning” there have been “universes of thought evolving into other universes of thought.” Due to the recasting of meaning, I am led to consider the implications of another meaning of play as “the play,” as in theatrical performance, as an acted re-presentation of a story. I speculate that the play is not the thing itself, but rather, the play is a site of far greater complexity, a nexus, or perhaps, a temenos, in Ancient Greek thought “a sacred space within which special rules apply and in which extraordinary events are free to occur.”

In the preceding review about play, pervasive modernist practices linger. ‘Play’ is under scrutiny as Ailwood’s (2003) analysis disrupts long held relatively simplistic and naïve understandings, bringing other agenda out of the shadows. But, play is still objectified as something that happens, as an experiential event and an eventful experience, albeit with poststructuralist leanings. Alternatively, Trueit’s engagement with cosmological ideas that precede modernism, although distant and speculative, opens an oscillation through past~present~future spacetimes or universes of thought. A change from always thinking forward in relation to the notso-distant past; a change towards thinking differently? Beyond representation; thinking emergence? Epistemology addressed, play(ing) with play(ing) becomes the conversation and a linkage appears to children playing their imaginary games (i.e. of play) and the games they play (i.e. “the play”), particularly those informed by children’s literature, the media and popular culture. So the game is not perceived as the thing itself but as a site of complexity, a milieu of various becomings, spaces of convergence and (con)fusion. As children and games converge, adults may see only confusion among/within children’s games (in early childhood settings). Yet, the temenos or spacetime of early childhood requires educationists’ respect for the children and their understandings played out in their games. Along with the children, we must expect the unexpected and accept the surprise of its occurrence within this 128


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play-site of complexity. The play is not just the play: it is much more. And it is the “more-ness” in this sacred space of play I wish to bring forward: the staging of cultural education (paedeia) leading to creativity and transformation. In this place, in this ancient time, the play was not just entertainment it was education; recreation was for re-creation.

So…the play is not just the play; the play is not just the game; the game is not just the play; the game is not just the game. “More-ness” or ‘and…and…and…’(Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 25) is foregrounded within the paedeia of the setting. This OED quotation elaborates paedeia: 1904 S. H. BUTCHER Harvard Lect. on Greek Subj. ii. 124 The Greek Paideia (ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ) in its full sense involves the union of intellectual and moral qualities. It is on the one hand mental illumination, an enlarged outlook on life; but it also implies a refinement and delicacy of feeling, a deepening of the sympathetic emotions, a scorn of what is self-seeking, ignoble, dishonourable––a scorn bred of loving familiarity with poets and philosophers, with all that is fortifying in thought or elevating in imagination. The creativity and alterity characteristic of milieu(s) of children’s games emerge through/with such understandings of the complexity of the culture of the setting and through/with the cultural complexity of the setting. Becoming- is apparent in the re-creation that happens through the game and its play(ing). Entertainment and education; play and learning are mutually constitutive and their conjunction alters both (De Castell & Jenson, 2003).

In this sacred space of play extraordinary events occur. Energy flows through all things, bringing contiguity. The free play of forces brings in to relations: players [the children]; time [of past, present and future relationships and games (to be) played]; senses: speaking, hearing, seeing, feeling; and inter-subjectivities [fairytale and popular culture heroes and heroines].

Yet, how extraordinary is this, really, considering the complexity of this play-site? And, considering the chaos of energy, forces, players, time, senses, inter-subjectivities? Toscano (2005) explains chaos in Deleuzian understandings as infinite speed of forms and entities emerging and disappearing simultaneously leaving no points of reference. So, as energy ebbs and flows through both children and their games, borders are crossed over and crossed out and the free play of forces, the play or movement of what happens between forces, becomes an(other) entity. Children as players within games merge within relationships among each other: as they relate to each other and brush alongside others relationships with others; remembering past relationships and present affects, experiencing relationships of the now, envisaging relationships as they may be in 129


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the future. And, into the chaos of in-between spaces come memories of games already played; as well, energy of present games and expectations of what these games may/will become. The children bring their senses into play as they negotiate relationships and the storyline of their game drawing characters in and drawing from the characters as they are played. There is a flowing together that forms an unbroken sequence in time and uninterrupted expanse in space. There is a dynamic system of patterns and transformation that “makes it possible to deal with unresolvable differences and contradictions” in a relational manner. Recognizing patterns and rhythms. Recognition by “patterns of resemblances” means that of bundles of relations must be seen rather than one set of relations, or isolated events. While all situations are contextual, one is, in a mythopoetic culture, looking at an event as a bundle of relations over time.

Children within games flow together, sometimes together and sometimes multi-directionally. The storyline may not emerge as expected by any/all of the players and in that sense it is disrupted. In another sense, as long as the game continues it is unbroken. But, even if/when time intervenes (e.g. tidy-up time or home time), the games most often only pause, to be taken up again at the next session or soon after. Even when the play-space is interrupted, the game is likely to re-emerge in another play-space in a similar or altered form. Patterns and rhythms of play within games and of games seem tacitly understood by the players. With practice, through generating the data and working with it, these become recognisable to me. I see that play is a heterogeneous bundle of relations, ideas and understandings that have ‘merged and collided over time’ (Ailwood, 2003, p. 295), all in oscillation.

This backwards and forward looking marks the threshold of play, for in this culture, the play, as a sacred temenos where extraordinary events are free to occur, insists on the flow of dynamical interactions.

In the oscillation, the constant moving backwards and forwards through the storyline of the game now and reflections of similar or different storylines already played, thresholds are glimpsed in stop~start moments as games and players turn ebbs into flows. Or is it more of a fibrillation, a quivering of uncoordinated movement(s)? In liminal spaces of the games and their playing, interactive flows (e)merge.

The dynamic flow of play is complicated, but the energy might be thought of deriving from the use of language (which is why I suggest play is the organizing principle of mythopoetic discursive practices).

Play and its playing are complex, yet its energy is illuminated in the children’s talking their way through storylines. Play, I suggest, is also a methodology, a way of children expressing complex understandings and a way of opening those understandings to adults. But, immediately I think of cultural lore: Inasmuch as (western) anthropology may want to understand the lore of other cultures, why does it assume that other/ed cultures might want to share their understandings? Similarly, just because adults want to know, doesn’t necessarily mean children 130


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want to tell. But, we can be(come) with them in their curricular spaces. Perhaps we need to (re)learn to play, ourselves and with them. If we want children to work alongside us towards shared understandings, why not learn to play alongside/with children; ‘with’ as engaging in their play-full activity, not ‘with’ as in toy. For the moment, in this moment, my suggestion is that we (re)learn play(ing). The audience members are drawn out of themselves, their energy flowing outward, toward the events enacted on stage, reacting to the performance; and energy from the performer is absorbed, drawn into, as the viewer receives this version of the tale.

So, adult-outsiders become part of the audience but must be willing to be drawn into the play and the game, towards the players, responding to the playing. We see other parts of the audience playing their part, players of bordering games becoming part of the energy as the games brush alongside each other, merge and collide, responding to the performance of players of other games. The energy melds; energy of the game and its players and energy of outsiders and the exteriority of the milieu. Each understands the game in their own way.

This active engagement and participation, giving and receiving, attention and reflection, is part of paideia, being drawn into oneself, drawn continuously forward. Each performer and participating viewer allows him or herself to be drawn in to the movement and find the play, the slip, in a situation, to be in the movement, and to work with the movement, to find––to create––variations.

Players interact with the exteriority, aspiring singularly and severally to the multiplicity of the paedeia, players oscillating between inside and outside, so the inside becomes the outside, insider becomes outsider, inside(r)~outside(r). Drawn into the movement or the machinic play of the play, into the liminality of play’s constant motion.

But there are multiple sites of play in the play, and the flow of reflexivity and reflection infuses all, permeating individuals with cultural values of creating, perhaps even creating as an ethical responsibility ––creating self.

In the multiplicity of the milieu, of playing in the games, of the games in play, the children collectively and collaboratively negotiate their storyline(s), in an ethics of processing through their own becoming, and merging and colliding with others in their becoming. Becoming child/ren emerging.

Self in this sense is not an object, but rather seems almost another site of play, of reflexivity, reflection and connection, with the other and with tradition.

Not being a particular someone. Be(com)ing someone different. Becoming-child, singularly and severally. Becoming-children, different, yet understandable within the lore of the paedeia.

Play(ing) with/in the slip. Here the storyline (e)merges, in response to what has already happened, responding to creations of the players, to players’ creativity. And, I am glimpsing an emerging storyline around ‘play’.

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Gadamer (1998, pp. 103-109) associates play with performance and the dynamism of play with creating self.

Moving through, moving with, moving in games~playing~becoming-child/ren.

Gadamer says: The movement of playing has no goal that brings it to an end; rather, it renews itself in constant repetition. The movement backward and forward is obviously so central to play that it makes no difference who or what performs this movement.

The games are never-ending. They pause only as children tire of negotiating storylines or when the programme says it’s time for something else. Like a rhizome, they shoot in (an)other moment(s), later, tomorrow, next week. Games keep going, newly different in different moments. For the game to continue, characters and roles shift within moments of movement, within movement of moments. What matters is the game continues.

The player is subsumed by the play, playing without purpose or effort, absorbed into the structure of play, and relaxed by it.

The game takes over, draws the players in, with no end other than the processual condition. Process is. (Means and end.)

First and foremost play is self-representation. All presentation is potentially a representation for someone. Play before an audience becomes the play and openness toward the spectator is part of the closedness of the play. The audience only completes what the play as such is: a process that takes place “in between.”

Play is about becoming-, in whatever way matters. The gaming (presentation) is about always already becoming-. Within the space-time of the setting and programme, insider~outsider becomes the storyline. Openness and closed-ness in never ending de~territorialising movement, de~territorialising play (verb/noun), de~territorialising play (adjective/noun), interrelations among insider~outsider players contesting the game and the storyline processing in the in-between; also, read ‘play’ ambiguously as what children do and machinic movement.

Play does not have its being in the player’s consciousness or attitude, but on the contrary play draws her/him into its dominion and fills her/him with its spirit. The player experiences the game as a reality that surpasses her/him all the more the case where the game is itself “intended” as such a reality–– for instance, the play which appears as presentation for an audience.

The players become the game, both develop into and are accepted as the game and enhance the game.

Each performative occasion is an opportunity to create, to reinterpret and to grow through the experience.

Becoming-(…), becoming…

The game and its storyline become more than the collective contributions of the players. It becomes a milieu, an ‘interior milieu of impulses and exterior milieu of circumstances’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 317).

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The extraordinary occurrence of play, the “more-ness,” derives from the powerful dynamism of relations and interactions, the circumstances for the emergence of the new and for transformation.

There is no playing down the complexity of play, of play as movement. Elusive, indefinable, dynamically changing, emerging.

This semantic play does not provide a neologism for play, a word––like “spirit”––that defies defining. It presents only a speculative re-description of play as dynamic flow through which systems––cosmological, mythological, human, and natural–– are transgressed, transcended, and transformed.

However, these semantics have not overwritten or over-played play with any newly coined expression. ‘Play’ and play(ing) fly free, avoiding concretising. But, I do have an offering as to how might we conceive of play differently. It is about finding a way beyond thinking of play as thing or event and thinking of play verbally, as dynamism and movement, as a milieu of becoming. ‘Becoming is the pure movement evident in changes between particular events… [It is] a characteristic of the very production of events. It is not that the time of change exists between one event and another, but that every event is but a unique instant of production in a continual flow of changes evident in the cosmos. The only thing “shared” by events is their having become different in the course of their production’ (Stagoll, 2005, pp. 21-22, original italics).

Play, as the organizing principle of discursive practices or re-presentation (re-enactment) in Ancient Greece, blows open the tight and constraining discursive practices of representation in modernity.

Following Trueit’s playing mythopoetically with play, I would approach the discourses of play (in the early childhood literature) play-fully. I would blow open the modernist representation of the centrality of play to supposed developmentalist advantage. I would work to disrupt thinking that enables play to be understood as governmentality, and more. I would present a rhizopoietic offering of play as a machinic assemblage, a milieu of becoming (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987).

But then, we all know about “play,” don’t we?

And, I would not pretend to know anything about ‘play’ as children understand it until I (re)learn to be a player as children are in their childhoods, until I (re)learn to play as children do. Sutton-Smith (1997) says: ‘We all play occasionally, and we all know what playing feels like’ (p. 1). But, do we? It is like drawing and painting; when we stop doing it, we forget, we stop learning how to do it. When we stop playing, we stop learning about it or how to do it; we stop learning what play(ing) is, what play(ing) means; we stop understanding play(ing). 133


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rhizopoiesis Making this rhizopoiesis was, for me, more adventure than venture as I played with Donna’s~my understandings32 and as I disturbed the distracting linearity of the academic writing and the page. Continuing the play (the performance, the fun game, the constantly changing movement), I recursively and speculatively (re)turned to (re)negotiate the (re)reading. Processing nomadically through this generative space of possibilities, in the doubled map above, the juxtaposing of my commentary alongside my play-fully poetic version of Trueit’s article reflects a collaborative and palimpsest engagement of ‘produsage’ (Bruns, 2005) as I take an opportunity to create a ‘new remixed version of [her] artistic material’ (¶ 7), to open through poetry another iteration of play(ing). Feminine écriture, in this moment exemplified by the works of Trueit (2006) and Richardson (1992), opens to other poietic readings, as Coetzee (2007) explicates in pointing the finger at patriarchy: ‘The masters of information have forgotten about poetry, where words may have a meaning quite different from what the lexicon says, where the metaphoric spark is always one jump ahead of the decoding function, where another, unforeseen reading is always possible’ (p. 23). In this doubled, if not multiple reading~writing~reading, my preference for difference, flows and mobile arrangements is illuminated, relegating uniformity, unities and systems (Hand, 1988) to the shadows. Also, with/in this attempt at something of a ‘disjunctive affirmation’ (p. xliv) I make manifest my belief ‘that what is productive is not sedentary but nomadic’ (p. xlii). In play-fully engaging rhizopoietically with play which is more than play, I hope I have gone some way towards disrupting the idealisation of children’s play that pervades much of the work of play theory and interrupted order and rationality in favour of a Dionysian approach relating to the sensual, spontaneous and emotional. Hopefully, I have also averted a modernist, civilising tendency ‘to take away play’s muddy complexity and reduce it to some kind of pure fun, pure intrinsic motivation, pure flow, rid of all encumbrances’ (Sutton-Smith & Magee, 1989, p. 54) and also turned away from ways of controlling it – both children’s play(ing) and theorising about it. Continuing with the complexity, yet aware that I risk further ‘concretising’ (Alvermann, 2000) of children’s play(ing), in the closing words of this plateau, I introduce play as intensities of becoming.

32

In a personal communication of February 13, 2009, Donna approved my poietic processing of reading~(re)writing her work. The poiesis is to be included in a joint submission to Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education (www.complexityandeducation.ca).

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(re)thinking (re)newing (re)conceiving play as intensities of becoming What comes to the fore in the play of ideas above is that play is not so much thing or event but movement, with/in/through which change occurs, constantly. Gadamer (1982) considers play as ‘the to-and-fro movement which is not tied to any goal which would bring it to an end’ (p. 93) such as in ‘the play of light, the play of waves, the play of the components in a bearing case, the inner play of limbs, the play of forces, the play of gnats, even a play on words’ (p. 93). This sense of play as light and constantly changing movements generates an openness as the movement of the play becomes somewhat, indescribable, indefinable, an elusive mo(ve)ment. In abstract terms, this may go some way towards explaining difficulties in defining the play that children do. Hodgkin (1985) suggests that in human play ‘[o]penness is incorporated within a larger system so that the whole system may function without breakdown under the probable range of stresses to which it may be subject’ (pp. 27-28). Through this openness of potential space, of a ‘time-space field – a field which is open to the future’ (p. 28), play continues. In Deleuzo-Guattarian understandings, children’s play(ing) happens in this kind of potential space as a ‘machinic assemblage’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). In such potential, liminal spaces an intensity of forces operate, these forces being ‘the relation between forces’ (Boundas, 2005, p. 131, italics added). In all these understandings, it is the play between that generates movement – if there is insufficient play, things seize, nothing happens. In a machine, it is ball bearings moving that create the play, the balls moving every which way against each other, generating a play of forces between. This helps understand machinic forces of children’s play – unavoidably elusive, constantly in motion, moving multi-directionally, neverendingly multidimensional, always already becoming-intensities of liminality. The sketch below (Figure 9) pictures a way of imag(in)ing this between-ness or liminality; here the play of movement of machinic forces opens to spaces that spandrels create. Play and spandrel simultaneously move with/in/to opportune space-time moments between.

Figure 9: Play (movement between) becomes spandrel (spaces between). (Drawing by Warren Sellers)

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A spandrel is the area between the curves of adjoining arches and the horizontal between the tops of each arch, or ceiling; it exists with arch and ceiling; on its own it is non-existent. Play, as spandrel is a multiplicity of children, games, context, and artefacts. Like spandrel, play cannot exist in isolation; it is not a thing. Neither is play an event or a happening even; it is a ‘hap’, a ‘watershed moment’, a ‘happenstance’, which attends to the ‘unexpected consequence… [The] sudden insight…. The hap may be anticipated…but will more likely be a matter of happenstance’ (Davis, 1996, p. 257). Play as hap and happenstance of mo(ve)ments is constantly changing in spaces between children, their interrelationships, imaginative and physical territories that they operate within, characters of games, artefacts at hand, all of which exist only in relation to (an)other(s), never in isolation; like spandrel and mechanical play. It now appears that turning back in on itself – a process of eversion – the elusiveness of mo(ve)ments of mechanical play and spandrel spaces affirms the machinic movement and spacetimes of children’s play, this interrupting any defining frustration about what play is not. Sphere eversion (Figure 10) provides imagery that reflects the machinic assemblage of children’s play(ing) as inside out or outside in mo(ve)ments through storylines, characters, roles, themes, physical territories and relationships of their games.

Figure 10: Picturing sphere eversion (Source: http://torus.math.uiuc.edu/jms/Papers/isama/color/opt4.htm)

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Starting from the top left, this imagery depicts the inside out and outside in turning of a sphere back in on itself. In pure mathematical terms, the images are to be read clockwise with the inside becoming the outside and vice versa, but in understandings of de~territorialisation, the eversion works in both directions – clockwise and anti-clockwise – with inside and outside becoming the other all-at-once. Eversion invites a still more generative reading of Sutton-Smith and Magee’s (1989) notion of play as reversibility, which they conceive as a world turned upside down. In its complexity, ‘the world of play…is…both up and upside down at the same time’ (p. 60); in its chaos, order and disorder combine. If children’s play(ing) could be imaged, I imagine it might look like this image of eversion, like a constantly changing bubble un/re/folding, in/re/e/verting continuously, de~territorialising, a multiplicity, multidimensionality at play, always already elusive and intensifying. I imag(in)e play as intensities of becoming, and as becoming-intensities of play.

rhizoanalysis of becoming-children and children’s play(ing) To move outside and disrupt conventional developmental and behaviourist analysing of children and their play(ing), I turn to Deleuzo-Guattarian understandings of intensities, towards generating a rhizoanalysis of play as intensities of becoming in/through/with which becoming-children (are at) work. This moves away from imposing (an) arborescent order on play, of identifying it in terms of being extensive, divisible, unifiable, totalisable, conscious and organisable, to use DeleuzoGuattarian descriptors of ‘numerical or extended multiplicities’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 33). In contrast, ‘qualitative or durational multiplicities’ (p. 33) are intensive, that is, they constitute rhizomatically as particles with relations of distances or between-ness and movements that are turbulent. …intensive multiplicities [are] composed of particles that do not divide without changing in nature, and distances that do not vary without entering another multiplicity and that constantly construct and dismantle themselves in the course of their communications, as they cross over into each other at, beyond, or before a certain threshold. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 33) Intensities grow inwards and outwards all-at-once forming aggregates or conglomerations that both stretch and become more dense, tying together ‘in an asymmetrical block of becoming, an instantaneous zigzag’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 278), such as of becoming-child(ren), becoming-intense, all becoming-imperceptible. But, how to perceive what is imperceptible? Deleuze and Guattari say that we perceive the imperceptible through movements of difference, not in relations between points, but in the middle between. ‘Look only at the movements’ (p. 282). When viewing the constellation Mātāriki (Pleiades) in Aotearoa New Zealand’s night sky with the naked eye, by not focusing on the objects of our gaze, things become more clearly visible. Not 137


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focusing on developmental, behaviourist perspectives of children’s play(ing), not trying to pin play down, opens possibilities for something incipiently different to come out of the shadows. As I video recorded Maria, Fleur and Lucy playing together, I was struck by the intensity of their play(ing). I was confused as to what was happening. The speed of the flow left an impression of total disorder as they drifted through a scenario that made little sense from the outside, other than it seemed that Maria had an agenda of control and in various ways the others were willing to play along. But this was a pervasive developmental analysis and as I opened to the complexity at play, I was prepared for a more generative reading to emerge. This generativity continues through the rhizoanalysis as I remain open to furthering possibilities in explaining what I perceive to be happening – a hap of becoming-imperceptible of becoming-child(ren) becoming-intense. The game seemed to have taken on a life of its own, and as an outsider, I have difficulty in keeping up with the play, but as I watch the chaotic flow, I come to see it as more of an a-ordered intensity with a complex storyline, outside my comprehension as a non-player. Through the next seventeen minutes, the game flows rapidly, the game taking over the players. To avoid being inadvertently caught in modernist analytical trappings, I again choose to work with the sensual, spontaneous and emotional. As I resist a (serious) behavioural analysis that focuses on cognitive, social and emotional development, I put the individualised child aside, instead illuminating them as singularities and as several. This avoids isolating each child and breaking down their activity into separate categories. Similarly, to disrupt a conventional analysis of breaking things down, in an attempt to see things differently, I (play-fully) take a rhizopoietical approach to transcribing the data, working with the children’s conversation to create more of a map of the play(ing) than a tracing of the activity. My choice initially is to juxtapose the children’s conversation with my commentary in a doubled perfomance, to enable the rhizoanalysis to flow as the game does, in ebbs and flows of movement and speed – ‘a movement may be very fast, but that does not give it speed; a speed may be very slow, or even immobile, yet it is still speed. Movement is extensive; speed is intensive’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 381). So, ebbing and flowing with/in/through this plateau of the rhizoanalysis, I take a more rhizo-friendly approach, namely, not breaking the transcription into bits/bytes, but leaving it together with its moments of incoherence that are none-the-less cohesive, not interrupting the movement and speed of this snippet of children’s play(ing). It becomes something of an improvisational performance, similar to the two-column rhizopoiesis earlier, but different in that I make no attempt to align my interaction with the transcriptions although some synchronicity occurs – a happenstance of mis/dis/connections. The juxtaposition enables an improvisational reading and I expect there will be jumps across, from rhizo-interaction to transcriptions, as opportunities arise for 138


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connections. The juxtaposition becomes (a) rhizo-imaginary (Sellers, W., 2008). Like a painting or poem, where the artist~author presents a creative work for viewers~readers to take from it what they will, I merely signal my intentions for one understanding (mine). But later, I (re)turn to the juxtaposition described above as a two-column (ad)venture, adding a third column – a transcription of Maria, Fleur and Lucy watching a (re)playing of (the video of) their game in a review session. This more intensive tripled juxtaposition is to perform a rhizoanalysis of data, to demonstrate a rhizo-storying of the data and to open (to) (a) rhizo-reading opportunit/y/ies. The poiesis of this tripled juxtaposition is improvisational with the rhizo interaction changing with each reading~writing performance (Trueit, 2005). The children’s play(ing) of their game plan(e) also changes as it passes from one player to another; and possibly the reading for each reader~reading of the play. Mo(ve)ments of game, children and juxta-position are fluid, inconsistent, unpredictable. To avoid giving primacy to my (im)plausible reading of data, I follow Lather’s (1992) suggestion of exploring postpositivist approaches to presenting data that cast aside assumptions that the researcher will say ‘what the data “mean” via a theoretical analysis’ (p. 95). Although the centre column in the juxtaposition below presents a rhizoanalysis of the transcription of the game, the addition of the third column is intended to display the data rather than analysing them. ‘Data are used differently; rather than to support the analysis, they are used demonstrably, performatively’ (Lather, 1992, p. 95). While each of the transcriptions constitute some of the rhizoanalysis, they are singular, each (merely) telling some of the story. Yet when read together they illuminate the intensity of the game and simultaneously work to intensify adult readings of the play(ing). The transcription of the (re)playing shows that although the game processed with fluidity, it was not random. The players were familiar with the storyline and the characters needed to perform it and if Adam was a random character, his presence was opportune for intensifying the game. Initially, I positioned the review transcription in the centre column to foreground the children’s comments as ‘central’ to the conversation. But, on reflection, I decided to position it in the third column, on the right, as a gesture towards the children’s storying being foregrounded – their storying through/of the game and in the (re)playing of it. This was to illuminate the children’s words as opening the ideas in the commentary and to enable their words to linger as they drift out of sight~hearing but not out of the reading~writing~thinking. I note also that in transcribing the (re)playing of their game, I became aware of the dominance of my comments and questions, although being aware at the time that they were intent on watching and not conversing.33

33

I discuss more of researcher imposition on the research and the data in the Children becoming power-full plateau.

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Further to the reading of this tripled juxtaposition, much of Maria and Fleur’s conversation is in dramatised voices, used to express the various characters they are playing; when in this mode, their conversation is in Helvetica font. When they are confirming the processing of the storyline, they speak in ordinary voices (marked by Times New Roman). I provide only enough details of their movements to explain the physical flowing of the game, leaving their conversations to tell a story of their play(ing). The transcription of the game is centred to suggest the a-centred flow of the conversation. The (re)playing transcription is justified to the left, as it verged on becoming more of an unstructured interview than a free-flowing conversation - however, ‘nomadic’ it still was. The two transcriptions are set alongside one another as moments in the game appear in the conversation of the replay. In the electronic version (PDF) of the thesis-assemblage the following pages can be rotated to ease the reading on the screen. Maria and Lucy are in their home in the family corner. Fleur is in the adjacent kitchen/shop. Adam is playing by himself in the kitchen. Their play(ing) has segued through Maria telling a goblin story into a game involving a mother, baby, shop-keeper, office person, hostess, neighbour, big sister, cook, papa, doctor, house minder, Nana, pilot, co-pilot and possible nurse. In the review session, the (re)playing, The storyline of the game is elusive as it moves rapidly through various themes; a plan(e) marked and constituted by changing characters.

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leaving these play-full intensities My (ad)venture has been with play-fully generating a play-full rhizome that tells a story of the intensities of children’s play(ing), to generate a multidimensional, complex and slippery ludic outof-the-ordinary happenstance. It is a ‘chorus of many ‘voices’ a ‘creative pastiche, a rhizopoiesis, a “valid” piece of academic writing allowing for the whether of data stories that refuse and exceed containment, confinement, and codification’ (O'Riley, 2003, p. 53), so that the (re)play(ing), transcribing, juxtaposing, (re)reading become ‘both data and analysis without succumbing to interpretation’ (p. 53). The tripled juxtaposition opens (to) a rhizo reading, as multidimensional happenstances with/in/through the middle extend and intensify the play and its playing, forcing the play plateau to grow outwards (movement is extensive) and simultaneously pushing on further inwards (speed is intensive). In this multiplicitous milieu of becomings we catch glimpses of play(ing) as intensities of becoming-child(ren) becoming-intense becoming-imperceptible. Lucy, Fleur and Maria’s activity is a generative play(ing) of/with/through constantly changing characters and subject positionings that promote their own expectations for the storyline(s) and respond to each other’s. Maria articulately expresses her power-fullness amidst the others; silent Lucy not necessarily acquiescing, but playing out her understanding of Bubba without instruction or resistance; Fleur oscillating through her ideas, listening, dis/agreeing, questioning, playing with/amidst rejection. But, it is Fleur’s stuttering moment that talks to us about the complexity of/at/with/in play(ing). As she searches for words when answering the phone, to say she is not the shopkeeper but the office person, she performs play and playing as fluid, contextual and unresolvable: No, I’m I’m I’m I’m the Ring ring um I am the I’m the office and I’m not I’m the shop I’m not I I I’m I’m the shop. The lack of punctuation accentuates the speedy flow of the words, largely without pause, including the change in voice (Ring ring). With/in a generative reading it is as if the play is going too fast to seize, even momentarily; the play and the playing are elusive… …which opens a way for closing this plateau. Play(ing) is elusive. But, that is to be welcomed in rhizo-thinking: ‘Movements, becoming, in other words, pure relations of speed and slowness, pure affects, are below and above the threshold of perception’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 281). Following Deleuze and Guattari, the plan(e) of games and their playing cannot be perceived at the same time as that which they compose or render…so, if play(ing) is intangible, indefinable, indescribable (at least in modernist terms), does this plateau even exist?

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Rhizomatically researching with young children opening to rhizo research Doing research rhizomatically with young children is the work of this plateau. It illuminates the rhizomatics of the research processes – the research design and data generation – and links to the writing that constitutes this thesis-assemblage. The analysis – rhizoanalysis – is discussed in another plateau. In thinking and working rhizome~nomad, linear processes are interrupted and there is a sense of oscillation, that everything about the research is always already happening. Similar to St.Pierre (1997b), as I write about the research strategies I (re)think the rhizo-methodological approach of the data generation and this then becomes part of the rhizoanalysis, so that writing down the research story becomes some of the writing up of the research (Holly, 1997). This thinking~researching~writing assemblage is, ‘simultaneously and inseparably a machinic assemblage and an assemblage of enunciation’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 504). It is a simulacrum of research as understood in this moment (St.Pierre, 1997b) as I respond to various aspects of the question: How did I do the research?

…and…opening to researching with young children Throughout, I use the phrase ‘researching with children’ rather than ‘research with children’ to foreground the active processes involved in doing research in which adult-researcher and childrenparticipants work together in conjoint relationships of generating data; in researching with children (not about or on), children become co-researchers. However, researching with young children is a complex endeavour, fraught with challenges about power relations…and…abounding in opportunities for generating richer insights into the lives and learning of children. For example: Considering children as young human beings questions whether involving children in research is any different from research with adults (Punch, 2002); also, privileging children’s perspectives enriches data (Sorin, 2003) but uncritically honouring their voices can be problematic (MacNaughton, 2003). Ultimately, researching with children is an embodiment of respect and responsibility, of honouring their understandings of themselves, others and the cultural, physical, social and imaginative worlds they operate with/in. In research contexts this means approaching children with open-ness, honesty and humility, expressing authentic interest in them and their activities towards fostering their well-being being in the research context and the wider research community (Sumsion, 2003). In this plateau, I engage with these issues, by discussing researching with children, understandings of voice, power relations between adult-researcher and child(ren)-

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participant(s), and ethical issues as they affect children. Before leaving the plateau, I discuss research relationships as responsible, responsive and response-able.

researching with young children ~ same as, or different from research with adults? As adults, we cannot understand the world as children understand it, the assumption being we need children to explain their perspectives to us. As we work to listen~hear what children say, paying attention to the ways they communicate, we presume that children want to share their childhood understandings with adults. Although ethical considerations require that researchers respect children as willing and voluntary participants, and although experience tells us that many young children love to talk about what they are doing, we must be wary of uncritically adopting attitudes that deny children’s choice about if and what to communicate. Listening to children may be intrusive and distressing (Roberts, 2000), and ‘more listening may not inevitably mean more hearing’ (Komulainen, 2007, p. 25). There may be moments when adult questions and conversation are objectives must be put aside. Considering children as young human beings, as mature and capable in ways different from adults (James et al., 1998) and as becoming-child(ren) (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987), begs questions around whether researching with children is the same as, or different from research with adults (Morrow & Richards, 1996; Punch, 2002). Although ethical principles employed are the same whether researching with children or adults (Christensen & Prout, 2002), methodological issues in researching with young children are complex, potentially different from those of adults and affected by researcher assumptions about children and childhood (Fasoli, 2001). Ways of approaching children need care-full and responsible consideration. Developing responsible processes means exercising a different kind of vigilance to children’s susceptibility to adverse affects of unequal power relations in research than when researching with adults. While power relations between the researcher and adult participants are similarly an issue, the complexity intensifies in research relationships with children because of their particular social and cultural positioning. Dilemmas arise around honouring becoming-children who are essentially operating in marginalised worlds. Although the research context may be a space for children, it is largely adult-controlled. Moreover, while the research process may have been a fun experience for the children involved, in the final analysis, the adult researcher most often interprets their perspectives. Approaching children respectfully, within practices that resonate with their concerns (Christensen & James, 2000b) requires that researchers are critically reflexive, this working to mediate inequitable research contexts. Thus, from writing the proposal, through data generation to writing 149


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the research requires that I continuously question my role as researcher and my relationships with the children. This means resisting valorising my perceptions, but the impossibility of writing the thesis-assemblage without imposing my subjectivity remains and I can only proceed as ‘not allknowing’ (Holt, 2004, p. 14). This, in turn, means reflecting on how these expectations affect the dynamics of my interactions with the children of the research, these dynamics continuing through the writing.

hearing children’s ‘voices’ with/in research processes Considering Cannella’s (1997) claim that constructions of research have silenced the most critical voices, namely children’s, ensuring they have greater control of research processes is yet to have a significant effect on (re)shaping qualitative research with young children (MacNaughton, Smith, & Davis, 2007). In a recent response to Cannella’s critique, MacNaughton, Smith and Davis explore ‘child-friendly’ research, that is, research viewed through a children’s rights perspective, which promotes children’s voice and choice as part of equitable research processes, from design to production, informed by understandings of children as people with human rights while surrounded by adult-centric knowledge-power relations. MacNaughton, Smith and Davis (2007) present four axes, read as a continuum, for explicating children’s research participation and sets of knowledgepower dynamics. Axis 4 is, potentially, the most desirable: ‘Children initiate and direct research. Children have the initial idea about what they would like to research and decide how the project is to be carried out. Adults are available to the children but do not take charge’ (p. 172). The power relations inherent in this approach privilege children’s knowledge about research and the processes involved and enable a power-fullness akin to becoming-child(ren). However, as a novice researcher relatively isolated from an active early childhood research community and with doctoral requirements to be met, it is unsurprising that my project slipped further down the continuum and fits most (un)comfortably with Axis 2 which states: ‘Adults initiate projects and share decisions with the children’ (p. 171). However, while the research idea was mine and the children were involved in every part of the implementation, it was not possible to involve them in the planning. The requirements of producing a research plan to gain university ethical approval, the time-frame of this process and the time frame for generating data which took me away from my paid employment and associated responsibilities all limited opportunities for planning the research with the children and compromised their participation (Powell & Smith, 2009). These limitations highlight the significance of funding for research projects. External funding may have opened possibilities for involving the children more meaningfully, although only experience – either on my own or within a research community – was going to advance my novice researcher status. Another limitation arises 150


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around the children’s voluntary participation. They were able to volunteer or withdraw at any time, but their initial involvement was subject to parental consent – this gate-keeping (Powell & Smith, 2009) precluded one child from participation. The children’s views were the research data and by virtue of their willingness to respond to my ideas or their lack of response, they determined how the data generation pat of the project would progress. Their response to the actual participation opened possibilities for their power-fullness in the research, although I inadvertently overrode this at times (as discussed in the Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full plateau), but opportunities for the children to work with knowledge of research and its processes were largely non-existent. However, as MacNaughton, Smith and Davis (2007) admit, privileging children’s perspectives in this way is problematic, not in regard to their having significant understandings to express and communicate ideas, but regarding how research institutions would accept this unconventional positioning of children, in which knowledge-power dynamics are turned upside down. Also, although children having choices enables them some control over their lives and their experiences in research contexts, Komulainen (2007) asserts that choice-making privileges certain cultural understandings, which assume that ‘children are not only entitled to choices but also willing to make them’ (p. 15). Thus, not only is ‘choice’ problematic, discussing choice in terms of ‘voice’ becomes problematic.

problematising ‘voice’ Commonly accepted early childhood practice in Aotearoa New Zealand unquestioningly privileges the child’s voice as expressions that are (modernistically) truly representational and authentic. Such practice follows the sociology of childhood that considers children have rights to voice their understandings, that they need to be (up-)skilled in projecting their voice and that they need to be seriously listened to and heard (James & Prout, 1997). This voice is about making individual children’s views perceptible, enabling them to tell their stories of what life means to them and to talk about their different experiences of learning, particularly in early childhood settings (Samuelsson, 2004). However, most often, adults listening to, and subsequently ‘giving children a voice’, is dependent on a child’s capability with language, in which adults are already competent (Clark, Moss, & Kjørholt, 2005). ‘Giving voice to children’ thus perpetuates the unequal power relations inherent in the adult|child binary and although ‘voice’ encapsulates the moral goal of honouring children’s rights, it risks dismissing the complexity of communication ‘as a local interactional activity’ (Komulainen, 2007, p. 25).

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Komulainen argues that despite the notion of the child’s ‘voice’ being a ‘powerful rhetorical device’ (2007, p. 11) it is nevertheless socially constructed. She thus proposes that the notion of the child’s ‘voice’ be understood as a constantly changing ‘multi-dimensional social construction’ (p. 13), in that, simultaneously, ‘voices’ reveal discourses, practices and contexts in which they occur. Also, ‘giving voice to children’ involves ambiguities of human communication, exposing ‘voice’ as a tool for furnishing young children with westernised competence. In poststructuralist thinking, experience is understood as producing subjects and subjectivities, as always socially mediated, rejecting an authentic voice. Youngblood Jackson (2003) explains: Poststructural theories reject the pure, full presence of an experience that can be fully understood and that can be fully expressed through a transcendental voice that reflects a direct and unmediated consciousness of experience. In poststructuralism, there is no prelinguistic experience or meaning that is “out there” waiting to be expressed by our innocent voices. Instead language and experience are productive in that they create a meaning that is always already slipping away – not meaningless, but contingent. Therefore, retrieving the authentic voice so that it can (finally) fully express meaning, bringing the subject and its experiences into consciousness, collapses under poststructural scrutiny. (pp. 702-03, original italics) Voice thus becomes a concept to be problematised as privileging the authority of an innocent voice risks romanticising the speaking subject (Lather, 2007), in this instance, the child – ‘language is not transparent, voices do not speak for themselves, and referents always slip away’ (Youngblood Jackson, 2003, p. 704). Britzman (1991) similarly problematises voice as contingent and nontransparent in that ‘narratives of lived experience are always selective, partial and in tension’ (p. 13). In working with the heterogeneity and connectivity of rhizome, Youngblood Jackson (2003) invents a way through, suggesting rhizovocality as a performative dimension of voice, which simultaneously illuminates its expressive power, dissonance, and nuances (p. 707). Rhizovocality is: a vision of performative utterances that consist of unfolding and irrupting threads. These threads have the ability to irrupt and unfold simultaneously in “smooth, open-ended spaces” (Massumi, 1987a, p. xiii), which compel poststructural feminist qualitative researchers to listen for texture and subtlety within and among discordant, muted, and harmonious voices, including their own. (Youngblood Jackson, 2003, p. 707) Authentic voice is thus disrupted towards vocalisations of research that are partial, contradictory and in processes of becoming. Processes of disrupting~irrupting~erupting perturb completeness and coherence, stretch and intensify children’s expressions of their understandings as a-centred, 152


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temporal and productive, embodying de~territorialising mo(ve)ments. ‘Talking back’ (hooks, 1989) demonstrates defiant expressions that decolonise voice and subvert exploitation.

opening (to) power relations Considering poststructuralist understandings that disrupt positivist perspectives of the child’s voice and working with Youngblood Jackson’s notion of rhizovocality opens (to) methodological issues of my subjective (st)utterances as adult-researcher with the children-participants and as writer of the research. In considering my researcher rhizovocality and that of the children~participants, I recall Foucault’s (1979) warning, whereby he ‘consistently refuses to assume the standpoint of one speaking for and in the name of the oppressed’ (p. 256). The conversation here about power relations and research methodology now folds back on itself in theorising about power relations and throughout the methodological discussion and the rhizoanalysis, I am, by default, speaking for the children within the data. Despite wanting to learn from and with them and despite promoting young children as becoming-child(ren), I am in the invidious position of now speaking for them in the writing of the thesis-assemblage. Aware of this contradictory endeavour, I persist, acknowledging that I can only speak of how I perceive children, childhood and the discourses generated by social, political, educational ideal(ist)s, about my perspective of how it appears for (some?) young children living in an adult (dominated) world in a community imbued with western sociocultural-political beliefs. As Deleuze in conversation with Foucault aptly puts it, You were the first…to teach us something absolutely fundamental: the indignity of speaking for others. We ridiculed representation and said it was finished, but we failed to draw the consequences of this “theoretical” conversion—to appreciate the theoretical fact that only those directly concerned can speak in a practical way on their own behalf. (Deleuze 1972, quoted in Sheridan, 1980, p. 114) There are somewhat irreconcilable issues here, as young children have limited public space from which to speak, and work with/in language capacities limited by adult-centric understandings of linguistic expression. How we can create an academic field of childhood studies whereby young children can freely communicate to a listening~hearing audience is not easy to see. With this in mind I turn to relations of power in research contexts as adult-researchers work with childrenparticipants, noting that the most significant challenge in researching with children is ‘disparities in power and status between adults and children’ (Morrow & Richards, 1996, p. 98) and that these cannot be ignored.

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children-participants and adult-researcher Working to ensure equitable relations between adult-researcher and children-participants within research contexts, works also to interrupt subordination and marginalisation of children in (the) wider world(s). This requires a shift in thinking from acknowledging that power exists and attempting to equalise or minimise it, to engaging with the complexities of relations of powerfullness. It requires moving from seeing power as residing in people and social positions towards considering power relations as inhering in social representations of ‘adult’ and ‘child’ (Christensen, 2004), particularly in intergenerational relations (Mayall, 2000). Power is not fixed; rather it is fluid and shifting. Within the research context ‘power moves between different actors and different social positions, it is produced and negotiated in the social interactions of child to adult, child to child’ (Christensen, 2004, p. 175). None of us are outside power relations, neither are we entirely autonomous or enslaved (Cannella, 1999). Power is not linear; it is discursive, constituting and constituted as ‘practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak’ (Foucault, 1972, p. 49), practices that recursively generate and reflect power (Foucault, 1980, cited in Cannella, 1999). In her research with young children, Fasoli (2001) observes access to power as continuously tipping one way and the other, from researcher to participants, ‘always both producing and disputing power relations’ (p. 9) as they interact with each other. Researching with children involves ongoing dialogue with the children as they are informed, consulted and heard. Christensen & Prout (2002) promote ‘ethical symmetry’, which considers ethical relationships between researcher and informant as the same, in research with adults and children, but how this plays out with children as a unique grouping is complex in that power relations are never equally proportioned. Relations of power are ‘changeable, reversible and unstable’ (Foucault, 1987, p. 12). However, considering power relations as complex, contextual, fluctuating and relational (Bloom, 1998, cited in Fasoli, 2001) provides something productive to work with, notwithstanding the proliferation of relationships, which likely generate many different, intersecting and conflicting interests within social relations and cultural contexts. Foucault (1979) says that power is present everywhere at the same time and that it coincides with the conditions of social relations in general, ‘not because it embraces everything but because it comes from everywhere’ (p. 93). Thus, if power is not positioned in adult or child per se, but is visible in the social representations we make of these, then power moves through children as well as adults. In theorising Foucault, Deleuze (1988) says, ‘power is not homogeneous but can be defined only by the particular points though which it passes’ (p. 25). There is thus no hierarchical, topdown, arborescent effect of Power, rather, a-centred rhizomatic affects of ‘powers…of becoming’ 154


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(Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 106). Power as affect ‘describes the forces behind all forms of social production’ (Colman, 2005a, p. 12). Thinking powers of affect(s) moves outside the negativity of power as domination towards a condition of becoming that manifests differently in different mo(ve)ments for all, including children. Braidotti explains that Deleuze’s configuration of power(s) ‘re-inscribes the reflection on the politics of the subject within an aesthetic and ethical framework centred on affirmation, …on the affectivity and the positivity of the subject’s desires’ (Braidotti, 1996, p. 305). However, Braidotti (1994c) argues that the internal logic of domination cannot be remedied by simply reversing the balance of power as this leaves the dialectical opposition intact. But dissolving the adult|child binary disentangles child and adult from disabling power relationships, instead recognising non-hierarchical relations of flows of power-fullness in which each is embodied in the other while simultaneously emerging from the other. When children are involved in research as active participants as generators and rhizoanalysts of data, power-full relationships, tense and dynamic in their interplay (Roy, 2003), are illuminated and open to critique.

reflexivity in doing and writing the research Reflexivity works to critique and deconstruct the inextricably intertwined relationships of subjectivities that are constituted in this research, by/through me as reader~writer~thinker~ researcher together with the subject matter with which I work – the literature and the research data. Reflexivity works with and against authenticity, so, as I conceive of myself from/with/in the lived experiences of my theoretically abstracted understandings, I can only be(gin) wherever I am, in a (con)text where I already believe myself to be (Derrida, 1974). In this, I am continually reminded that my thinking about and doing the research is constituted and affected by my historical understandings and that these contribute to the research processes and text. My thinking is thus opened to critique around various issues (Gergen & Gergen, 2000), such as my unique historical and geographic situated-ness, my personal investments in the research, my biases and the surprises that emerge from these, my choice of Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries that affect the research processes and the reading of the thesis-assemblage, the combination of philosophical, feminist, poststructuralist understandings that I employ and perspectives I choose to pass by. While I produce the research text, the philosophical understandings I use also produce me (St.Pierre, 2001). Thus my presence is significant throughout the research and the writing. A self-consciously reflexive approach is characterised by making connections among (my)self as writer, the writing, discourses involved and discursive acts that are both played out by the writer 155


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and come into play through the writing. This kind of reflexivity also problematises these connections – the actual connections and the processes of making them – as well as reflexive reading~writing as a processual approach. In The Ambivalent Practices of Reflexivity, Davies, Browne, Gannon, Honan, Laws, Mueller-Rockstroh and Petersen (2004) explicate their collective work on/with an exploration of reflexive practice. They say that reflexivity involves: …turning one’s reflexive gaze on discourse – turning language back on itself to see the work it does in constituting the world. It entails the development of a kind of “critical literacy” in which the researchers understand that they are also caught up in processes of subjectification and see simultaneously the objects/subjects of their gaze and the means by which those objects/subjects (which may include the researcher as subject) are being constituted. In this model, researchers come to see what is achieved through particular discursive acts as well as the constitutive means by which the particular act was made possible and interpretable as this act in particular. Researchers see meaningful actions in the world, analysing them both in their own terms and at the same time, as the result of the constitutive acts engaged in and made visible by the researchers themselves. (p. 361, original italics) Thus, when writing reflexively, who I am and what I think and feel, simultaneously (e)merge from/within the text of this plateau assemblage. Self and writing, as (con)textual assemblage, become rhizome, related as wasp and orchid (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) in a becoming-self of the writing and becoming-writing of (my)self. This is an ongoing, recursive process as ‘[e]ach of these becomings brings about the deterritorialization of one term and the reterritorialization of the other; the two becomings interlink and form relays in a circulation of intensities pushing the deterritorializing ever further’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 10). Thus, generating (a) text becomes an activity of ‘ceasing to acknowledge a distinction between the inside and the outside’ (Groves, 2007, ¶ iii). In this way, I become one with/in my writing; my writing is not so much mine, rather it becomes me, and I become it. However, always already I am writing myself into (non)existence, I am (un)doing myself. Writing and me, as multiplicity, has ‘neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions that cannot increase…without the multiplicity changing in nature’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 8). In the process of writing I change, I am no longer myself; yet I cannot stop being myself on my own, I can only cease to be myself in conjunction with others – in this instance, only with/in (my relationship) with my writing. As I become more aware of whom I am, my writing blurs – researching and self are ever (e)merging self-consciously, reflexively, recursively. Davies et al. (2004) explain this deconstruction of who I am in relation to my writing as slippery because of the always-already-ness of my relationships with the world: 156


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…the subject is deconstructed in such a way that it can no longer be read as a fixed object to be read or as a superior transcendental consciousness that can engage in objective readings. But such a position can be a slippery one to maintain because researchers are (always already) subjects who engage in readings, and in analysis, and who draw on their own experience of being in the world to make sense of it. (p. 362) The (im)partiality of my thinking and writing is constantly in question – (im)partiality in terms of what I choose to remember, how I interpret remembered understandings and the attachment I have to them (Miller, 1999). In reference to Lather (1993), Davies et al. (2004) explain that while ‘authentic, realist self narratives and discursive textual analysis…may appear to coexist…the former [is] often seen to undermine and erode the latter…The subject both does and does not exist in reflexive social science writing’ (p. 362). Deleuze and Guattari (1987) acknowledge such (non)existence as they seek to make themselves (un)recognisable in their writing, dissolving their “I-ness” into a subjective multiplicity. The two of us wrote Anti-Oedipus together. Since each of us was several, there was already quite a crowd…[We] render imperceptible, not ourselves, but what makes us act, feel, and think…To reach, not the point where one no longer says I, but the point where it is no longer of any importance whether one says I. We are no longer ourselves, each will know his own. We have been aided, inspired, multiplied. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 3) While this sounds like a relatively straightforward task, de-cluttered of subject/object, Deleuze and Guattari acknowledge that operating from this kind of middle is not always easy. Although there is a sense when reading Davies et al. (2004) that writing reflexively may intensify more readily when writing in conjunction with others, their exploration is fraught with difficulties as they negotiate ‘multiple layers of ambivalence’ (p. 363). However, by thinking of self not as a fixed, stable entity, but as constantly moving and changing – in processes of becoming – ways are opened for transgressive possibilities (p. 368); ‘the act of reflexivity creates new thoughts and ideas at the same time as going back over old thoughts and ideas…chang[ing] the thinking that is being thought’ (p. 386). Reflexivity operates to/with/in (a) middling through plateaus, generating middles within plateaus and plateaus of middles, endlessly. As I work with the children in data generating processes, working reflexively opens my sensitivity to ongoing issues around not impeding their expressions of power-fullness within flows of our child-participant~adult-researcher relationship. However, within the reflexivity of the rhizoanalysis, I see that I did not always achieve this. For example, my pragmatic response to Tim’s rhetorical 157


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question as to why I was following them (see the Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full plateau) does not address his concern about my being in his play space. On a subsequent day Tim is more explicit and succeeds in getting me to understand that my directing the camera at him is not what he wants. Although I apologetically withdraw, it is not until later that I appreciate that my activity was compromising his power-fullness. Reflexivity, particularly around children’s powerfullness continues throughout the writing of the research and enriched reflexivity afforded by time, provides considerably more meaningful insights.

reflexive journaling Maintaining reflexivity, of the moment and later, works to mediate my researcher understandings as privileged in the child-participant~adult-researcher relationship. It seems that in my journaling throughout data generation I become aware of different approaches I need to take, but, reflecting on those reflections, it now appears that most often it was the children’s rhizo-expressions (combined implicit~explicit expressions) made through their actions and responses that alerted me to making changes. Although reflexivity occurs within the moment, it inevitably continues later in my journal. For example, through my journaling, I become aware of Chloe’s expertise with the video camera in capturing the children’s play(ing) that generates enriched data, implicitly ensuring her, and the other children’s power-fullness in the data and in the process of its generation. Because I wanted to understand what the children were videoing and why, I kept trying to get Chloe to talk about what she was seeing/doing, and to talk with the children she was following during the conversation recorded on the video. But on reflection, I realised I was not trusting her with capturing a story worth telling (Dockett & Perry, 2007). Also, my suggesting that she ask them what they were doing makes no sense; as I record the flow of various children’s play(ing), I say little, being intent on following their ideas and intentions for their games and not risking any comments I might make being (mis)interpreted by the children as my imposing ideas in any way. Surprisingly, I was not affording Chloe the same respect. However, now making my position as researcher explicit in the writing of the research disturbs any lingering positivist notions of a neutral or invisible researcher and assures that my story is not definitive. Also, flowing with the children’s activity ensured that what I was capturing was their stories of their play(ing). While I endeavour to work reflexively with research practices that respect the children as power-full players in their learning by acknowledging my subjectivity, situated-ness and (im)partiality, the notion of being transparent is suspect (Holt, 2004). As reflecting on my interactions with Chloe demonstrates, I was not always aware of my intentions; being fully 158


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conscious of past and present desires, motivations, and the pressures and constraints of these on the research processes is often untenable. In the writing of the research, working reflexively alerts me to poststructuralist methodological questions (following Lather, 1992; Mayall, 2002; Youngblood Jackson, 2003): How do I deal with the pervasiveness of narrative authority? How do I open (to) possibilities and not lock them in (my) interpretations of data? How do I ensure (a) rhizovocal, a-centred text(s) with/in the rhizoanalysis? How do I think from children’s lives? How do I deconstruct my desires for the research that affect the text of the thesis-assemblage I am generating? These questions (re)turn me to the unstable and dynamic matters of subjectivities, singularities and severalties that are constituted within power relations (Foucault, 1980) and continue to inform the presentation and writing of the research. Responsibly, all I can do is bring my understandings together with the children’s expressions of their understandings to find out how they (can) work together, perhaps towards a(nother) rendering of what childhood may be like (James & Prout, 1997). Thus, self-consciously reflexive, I continue. Before moving reflexively to ethical considerations I provide some information about the research context that is relative to the ethics discussion.

selecting a kindergarten and gaining entry My preference for generating data was with a kindergarten offering a sessional programme with ample time and space for the children to move freely through the programme and the setting. In consultation with the regional Free Kindergarten Association, I identified Sunshine Kindergarten34 as a possible research site. My contention was that the large chunks of uninterrupted time available to the children in this kindergarten would open possibilities for rhizomatically generating data, with the children leading the way, and, as the children were used to operating in such a programme, my expectation was that their play would be largely with their own agenda. However, I acknowledge that these were preconceptions I brought to the study (Christensen & James, 2000a) and that there are ethical implications of identifying my standpoint thus (Morrow & Richards, 1996). Although the rhizoanalysis illuminates that this was a useful setting in which to generate data of children performing curriculum alongside my understandings of Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophical imaginaries, questions arise around my Deleuzo-Guattarian influenced lens affecting such understandings. Also, my philosophical situated-ness likely advantaged Sunshine Kindergarten as an option.

34

Pseudonym.

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opening relationships with the teachers Appreciating the importance of engaging the trust and confidence of the adults responsible for the children, who would become research participants, and the importance of establishing a working relationship with opportunities for dialogue and collaboration towards this (Thomas & O'Kane, 1998), I met with all three teachers to discuss the possible involvement of the children of Sunshine Kindergarten in the research project and invite them to raise any concerns they might have. The teachers were supportive of the project, expressing particular interest how the findings might inform their teaching. Enabling the children’s power-fullness was important to my conception of the project and this corresponded with their personal philosophies as early childhood teachers. They were comfortable with not being involved as participants and with my working with the children in generating the data in such as way that the children were in control. This decision, not to involve the teachers as participants, emerged reflexively prior to seeking approval for the research. I decided that minimising adult involvement would more likely minimise impoverishment/dilution of data around the children’s power-full expressions and performance of curriculum. Although the teachers were not included in the data, they were inevitably party to its generation as they worked with the children in their everyday learning experiences in the setting. This meant that some data generated that involved intriguing rhizo-conversation with the children were excluded from the rhizoanalysis. Although early in the rhizoanalysis I thought that it might have been useful to include the teachers, I later returned to my prior decision that their involvement may have blocked the foregrounding of children’s understandings.

familiarisation sessions Six familiarisation sessions were scheduled during the two-week period prior to the data-generating period. My presence in the kindergarten was announced in a welcome message on the parent noticeboard at the kindergarten door; I also displayed an introductory notice with my photo attached. The purpose of these sessions was to open relationships with the children, gain their confidence and ascertain what kinds of interactions worked well with this particular group (Powell & Smith, 2009). The sessions were also a way of becoming more familiar with the teachers, and they with me, and were also a time for me to engage with the programme and culture of the setting. During this time I interacted with all the children on at least one occasion. I talked with them, engaging with them in various activities, indoors and outside, and worked with them in creating various artworks. We also experimented with the video, capturing snippets of their play(ing) and playing it back on the LCD screen of the camera or through a television monitor I had set up. All of 160


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this contributed to our mutual rapport. Although supported by the teachers in my researcher role, I also endeavoured to support them in their work with the children, for example, participating in tidyup time and up-dating them about the progress of the project.

ethical considerations Ethics, in researching with children, link to understandings of children and childhood. For example, sociological views perceive children as competent social actors in everyday worlds of their childhood(s), capable of participating in and withdrawing from research (see, for example: Cannella, 1997; Corsaro, 1997; James, Jenks & Prout, 1998; Mayall, 2002). Childhood is perceived as a social construct relative to particular spatio-temporal contexts, including research contexts which welcome children as active participants (Farrell, 2005). Working with Deleuzo-Guattarian rhizomatic understandings of children as power-full, as becoming-child(ren) respects children as young human be(com)ings and opens to ethical considerations that are ongoing throughout the research process, from design to dissemination. In accordance with The University of Queensland School of Education Guidelines for Ethical Review of Research Involving Humans (2005) ethical clearance was granted for the research to proceed. To inform the documentation, I used the New Zealand Association for Research in Education (1998) ethical guidelines and the Australian Association for Research in Education (1993, 2005) code of ethics and Cullen, Hedges and Bone’s (2005) ethical guidelines addressing the processes of planning, undertaking and disseminating research as relative to early childhood settings. Throughout the research I remain cognisant of the following ethical issues: Respect for the person; minimisation of harm and maximisation of benefits; informed consent; voluntary participation; respect for privacy and confidentiality; avoidance of deception; avoidance of conflict of interest; social and cultural sensitivity; and, justice (Cullen, Hedges & Bone, 2005, pp. 1-2). However, as a beginning researcher I am aware that the best intentions are no guarantee for an ethical approach (Powell & Smith, 2006) and of the importance of ongoing critical reflection throughout towards assuring all aspects of the research become power-full experiences for the children. There are unique, complex methodological and ethical issues involved in researching with children, involving intersecting issues of informed consent, protection and confidentiality, intermingled with providing information.

a complexity of methodological and ethical issues Researching with children presents unique ethical issues of protection, consent and confidentiality that complexify with/in the manifestation of children’s different understanding and experience of 161


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the world (Thomas & O'Kane, 1998). Consent is generally given by adults, but the research and the participating children likely benefit from children giving their consent as well, although this may be more about ‘assent’ (Morrow & Richards, 1996) and/or dissent in that parents might have coerced children or overridden their desire to participate. Protection assumes that children are vulnerable and need adults to advocate for them, shielding them from exploitative researchers and research processes and this is complicated by rules of various social institutions, such as protection from abuse. However, viewing children as vulnerable, incompetent and in need of protection ‘perpetuate[s] power disparities’ (Powell & Smith, 2009, p. 139). Confidentiality becomes complex in that adults responsible for participating children may expect to be informed of details of their private lives and thoughts relative to the early childhood setting (Thomas & O’Kane, 1998). In Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood settings, teachers regularly share information of children’s everyday learning experiences in terms of informal assessment with parents/caregivers, but confidentiality and anonymity guidelines for research sometimes state that parents/caregivers do not have the right to access individual data (Powell & Smith, 2006, p. 132). These complex and sometimes conflicting issues may raise dilemmas during the research or they may (simply) act to inform the research throughout. Ethical considerations often raise questions rather than providing clear means of resolution. Furthering the complexity around ethics, researchers likely prioritise principles differently (Powell & Smith, 2006, p. 136) – the perspective a researcher adopts will depend on their personal understandings of children and childhood and their operational responses to these. Whether understood in terms of un/equal power relations or children’s power-fullness, issues of power undergird methodological approaches, research strategies and ethical considerations.

protection Ethical considerations of protection are concerned with minimising the risk of harm to children, ensuring that they are not hurt, disadvantaged or coerced in any way, that their learning and relationships within the early childhood setting are not disrupted (Hedges, 2002). Protection also requires that all interactions with people and processes of the research work positively to affirm children’s well-being. Although ethics committees grant approval that aims to protect participants, researchers and institutions, from adverse affects of the research process, it is the researcher’s responsibility to avoid any activity within the research process that is potentially harmful, including dissemination. As Valentine (1999) advocates: academics have particular duty to be aware of the potential impact of the dissemination of their research findings on children as a whole, for example, by considering what model of childhood is assumed in the research and by considering whether the wider dissemination of the findings 162


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will reinforce or contribute to the stigmatisation of young people or discrimination against them. (p. 151) However, unexpected dilemmas can arise at any time during the research process, despite rigorous ethics approval processes, for example, tensions around the ethical commitment to report findings with honesty. ‘Ethics is an ongoing social practice’ (Powell & Smith, 2006, p. 127). Although young children may benefit from adults’ advocacy, being overly protective and considering children as power-less, has the potential to reduce children’s participation in the research and to limit the kind of knowledge they may be willing and able to share. Powell & Smith (2006) affirm that ‘protection is a disputable concept…that overprotection may be as harmful as neglect…and that true protection of children requires protection of their rights, including that of participation’ (p. 135). When children are considered the ‘gatekeepers of their own accounts…as competent witnesses to their own experiences…[there is] a blurring of typical adult-child interactions’ (Danby & Farrell, 2005, p. 61) so that researcher and children participants can together generate understandings and accounts of children’s everyday experiences. ‘Protection’ then takes on another meaning. In respecting children from within their own understandings, protection becomes more about enabling children in their power-fullness to escape the exploitation of wellmeaning but limiting gate-keeping of expressions of their lived experiences that researching with children has the potential to broadcast.

ethics of informed consent Informed consent means providing parents/caregivers with information about the research project and the processes involved and inviting them to give permission for their children to participate. Essentially, adults volunteer children. While their responsibility is to be respected, parents giving consent risk coercing or denying children’s participation. Moreover, seeking consent from adults on behalf of children does not resonate well with children’s rhizovocality in research, with disrupting any power im/balance and with creating child-friendly research. It embodies neither the notion of researching with children nor ‘research as participation in a community of practice’ (Fasoli, 2003). However, for researchers working with young children, ethically sound practice is considered to involve the children in decisions of the research process, in which children’s views are central to the data and are sought respectfully. This means providing children with information to ensure they ‘understand what is required of them in the research project…[and] who has involved them, and why’ (MacNaughton, Smith & Davis, 2007, p. 171). Ensuring children understand that participation 163


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is voluntary and they can withdraw without explanation at any time, is crucial. Ideally children should be consulted and informed about the shape of the project throughout, such as making decisions about research strategies that they think appropriate with their opinions ‘taken seriously in how the research evolves’ (p. 171). Gaining informed consent from children is an unfolding discourse. Thomas & O’Kane’s (1998) research with 8-12 year olds depended on passive agreement from caregivers and active agreement from participants. They provided information material for the children as well as the caregivers so children could express their views about (non-)involvement in an informed way. Similarly, in research with older children and young people, Valentine (1999) refers to asking children for written consent rather than consent that is ‘oral or implied’ (p. 144). Yet, seeking formal, written consent from young children seems to have been overlooked in much of the discussion of research (see, for example: Christensen, 2004; Clark, 2005; Dockett & Perry, 2003; Godfrey & Cemore, 2005; Komulainen, 2007; MacNaughton, 2003; Samuelsson, 2004; Sorin, 2003; Sumsion, 2003). This is despite a growing respect for children’s freedom to assent or dissent to participation and support for children’s increasing involvement throughout other aspects of the research process. However, a number of researchers have actively sought children’s written consent (Bone, 2005; Danby & Farrell, 2005; Dockett & Perry, 2007; Hedges, 2002, 2007; Te One, 2007). Danby and Farrell (2005) affirm that the issue of children signing consent forms is foregrounded through sociological understandings, whereby young children as research partners contribute to data generation and interpretation in meaningful ways. These authors relate their experience with children aged 5-11 years giving consent. After parents had given permission the children were invited to give theirs. The children had the opportunity to give a ‘consent signature’ (p. 53), their responses including drawings, initials and nicknames, for example. Similarly, researching in a kindergarten, Hedges (2002; 2007) first sought parents’ consent and then children’s. She designed sheets for the children to sign and she read the information to each child individually. Admittedly, the younger the children are, the greater the imagination required of the researcher to be able to generate a way of making this a possibility. Children giving active consent foregrounds potential conflict of interest around parents coercing their children to participate or excluding them from research that children themselves may want to be involved in. Either way, opting in rather than opting out minimises un/intended coercion, but this, recursively, problematises informed consent in researching with young children and a slippage of children’s power-fullness re/oc/curs.

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seeking informed consent Prior to data generation I participated in six sessions to become familiar with the children and the programme and to enable the children to become familiar with me – these familiarisation sessions are discussed further on, along with selecting the kindergarten and opening relationships with the teachers. Part way through the familiarisation sessions, I distributed an information letter to the parents/caregivers of the morning children, explaining the aims of the research, methods to be used and how their children would be involved in the data generating processes. Parents/caregivers were invited to sign a form consenting to, or declining permission for their child’s participation, in the understanding that participation remained voluntary throughout and that participating children were free to choose whether and when to be involved. Only one parent declined consent for her child to participate but the child was not excluded from any of the data generating activity, rather, I later edited out data that included her/him35. Cognisant of generating opportunities for enabling children’s power-full participation in the research and informed by recent experiences of early childhood researchers obtaining written consent from young children, with permission (Jane Bone, personal communication, January, 2006), I adapted the consent form that Jane Bone designed for her research (Bone, 2005). I created a six-page booklet for the children inviting their written consent, explaining in age-appropriate language informed consent and voluntary participation. Before giving the children the booklets, I talked to the whole group at mat-time, explaining that if they wanted, I would make videos of them playing and they could use the camera to record each other playing. I reiterated that they could change their mind (opt in or opt out) at any time. I showed them each page, explaining that their parents could read it to them and, if they wanted, they could write and draw in it and bring it back to me (Appendix i: Children’s Consent Booklet).

children’s consent booklets A photograph of the playground illustrates the cover, along with a note asking that parents/caregivers read through the booklet with their child and assist her/him in filling it in. In language accessible to four year olds, I introduced myself, then the research, with a brief explanation about how together we might go about making videos, reviewing the videos and then talking, and perhaps drawing, about what they were doing. In relation to how the children felt about doing this, they were invited to apply colour to any of the words – happy, fine, not sure, worried – indicating their feelings about the research. They were then asked whether they wanted to be 35

I use ‘her/him’ as part of protecting the identity of this child.

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involved in making the videos, circling either yes, no or maybe. Over half drew a picture of themselves in the space provided; others attached a photograph; some did neither. Most of the children indicated that they felt ‘happy’ or ‘fine’ to be involved – only three were marked ‘unsure’ and none were ‘worried’. Regarding making videos, one child did not want to be involved and two said ‘maybe’. Following are examples of responses (Figure 11):

Figure 11: Responses in the consent booklets of two children.

Except for the child whose parent had declined consent for participation, all forty-seven others returned their booklets. Enthusiasm to participate was demonstrated by many of the children showing me, and the teachers, their booklets before posting them in the special box I had made for them. On seeing their engagement with the consent booklets and noting the pride most took in it, I 166


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scanned their booklets and returned the originals for insertion in their profile books, their personalised record of their work and activity at kindergarten, home and in the community, compiled in a clear-file. I noted which children were unsure about the research or did not want to be involved. Later, I wonder if the children’s consent booklets contributed to the 100% return of consent forms from parents/caregivers and to the high level of interest. Many parents engaged me in conversation, with ongoing interest in the progress of the project.

confidentiality and privacy Intersecting with protection and informed consent, confidentiality concerns identities of participants and the research context throughout the study, in the research text and in subsequent reports and publications. Working with these principles plays out differently in researching with children than with adults. Respecting anonymity is relatively straightforward and children creating pseudonyms becomes a way of involving them in the research process, simultaneously providing them with information about privacy issues and ensuring their own privacy. When Hedges (2002) invited the children to create pseudonyms, Orca, Kitten and Frankenstein were some choices that reflected their varying interests. But, as Valentine (1999) notes, this is not unproblematic as ‘giving children voice’ is ensured but their choice of pseudonym may ‘bear little relation to their own identities’ (p. 148) and may distort the way extracts from the transcripts are read by others in research reports. Children’s ‘individuality’ is thus written out of the research in an attempt to protect their confidentiality (p. 148). Confidentiality during data generation was in accordance with Sunshine Kindergarten policy, which encourages children to discuss their ideas with peers, teacher and other adults in the setting in respect of individual children’s best interests. Children are party to, and encouraged to be respectful of other children’s conversations and activity throughout the daily programme and given that the data comprised of video-ing their ordinary, everyday activity in the Kindergarten and reviewing these videos later, there was nothing recorded beyond everyday events and situations that could potentially breach the children’s confidentiality. How the children discussed their involvement with their friends and others at kindergarten once outside the setting was beyond my control. Confidentiality and privacy was thus maintained in the setting, although not entirely controllable beyond it. Privacy aspects of confidentiality are openly addressed in group interviews with adults, but this plays out differently in researching with young children. It is not uncommon to conduct group interviews in open spaces, such as at the drawing table where the children can talk together as they 167


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draw, but where conversations can be overheard. Hedges (2002) worked with the idea that whatever the children discussed with her would be private to them and their parents. In my research project data was the children’s play and conversations videoed were mostly everyday interchanges among the children and sometimes these included me in the same way that their teachers interact ordinarily in the course of their teaching. Conversations with various children about their play when reviewing various bits of footage again involved the kind of conversations the children have with the teachers and each other when reading their personal profile books – clear file collections documenting their work and activity in the Kindergarten. These kinds of conversation are always open to all. Reviewing the videos (discussed in detail further on) happened during the session when parents were not present in a relatively contained space in a corner in the kindergarten. Occasionally the teachers were invited by children to watch recordings of their play(ing) – Fleur, for example, insisted on several occasions that a teacher watch the funny bits, insisting: …look at this cos it’s really funny. Please watch this part, it’s really funny. It’s really funny you have to watch all of this part. For the teacher to have declined the invitation would have compromised their teaching~learning relationship and been an ‘inappropriate intrusion’ (Thomas & O’Kane, 1998, p. 340) on the reciprocity of learner~teacher. Other than noting Fleur’s comment (above), such interactions captured in the videos have been excluded from the wider rhizoanalysis. These ethical considerations of informed consent, protection and confidentiality and aspects of providing information that intermingle illuminate some ‘ethical mind-fields’ (Fasoli, 2001) in researching with children and this opens to the significance of generating a ‘culture of ethics’ (Bone, 2005) in early childhood research. This needs to be a culture that reflects the complexity, continuously questioning how to ‘enable children to be heard without exploiting them, protect children without silencing and excluding them, and pursue inquiry without distressing them’ (Alderson & Morrow, 2004, p. 12).

ethical considerations for becoming-child(ren) becoming-researchers As Buchanan explains, ethics for Deleuze is about ideology in that ‘any exploration of the process by which concepts are invented is also an examination of an ethical existence’ (Buchanan, 2000, p. 73). This approach to ethics works to disrupt specific, established modes of perception, towards understandings for thinking and doing things differently. We have to ‘square the circle so to speak by asking “How does it work?”’ (p. 74). The underpinning ethical question for Deleuze is around how we might reinvent ourselves, take ourselves apart and, imagined differently, put ourselves together afresh (p. 84). To create an active mode of ethics, Deleuze’s response is a folded 168


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endeavour, which read in regard to researching with children, means simultaneously understanding children as they are…and…seeking ways by which they can become something different within a milieu of ethical (and methodological) considerations involving de~territorialisation of adult perceptions of who children are…and…how they can be perceived differently…and…children’s understandings of what they consider themselves to be becoming, differently, as becomingchild(ren) becoming-power-full becoming-researchers. The assemblage of becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full becoming-researchers is conceptually fluid in respecting and reciprocating with young children in research processes. These becomingchild(ren) becoming-power-full becoming-researchers are constituted in/by constantly changing capacities, conceptual understandings, lived experience and communicating abilities different from those of adults. Researching with children is about thinking (as) nomad~rhizome, (an) alterity (of) the sedentary thinker locked into various forms of (adult-centric, rational) thought, with nomad asking how it works. Thinking (the thought of ethics – form of content) and doing (ethical considerations – form of expression) as nomad~rhizome, means thought (form) and thinking (expression) are inseparable – ‘both content and expression are embedded in a complex, not hierarchical but heterogeneous, system of relations in such a way that one reciprocally presupposes the other’ (Semetsky, 2004, p. 317). Ethics are not fixed and ethical considerations cannot be resolved; research(ing) is always already both ethics and their considerations. Similarly, in understandings of becoming, adult-researchers and children-participants-researchers are in reciprocal relations of be(com)ing several – as adults and children together become both competent and incompetent, immature and mature in expressions of power-fullness with/in ethical considerations of becoming-researchers. In the thinking and doing of research(ing) (with) becoming-child(ren), relations between everyone and everything is always already in flux.

using video to generate data Data generated through video does not depend on sophisticated use of language or children’s particular linguistic competence in expressing their ideas. Video technology opens ways for paying close attention to the uniqueness of the moment and becomes a way of connecting with the hundred languages that children use to express themselves and their understandings of worlds operate within (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005). The responsibility would then be mine to listen, not in terms of interpreting their activity/understandings, but by looking for ways in/through which the children perform their curricular understandings. Expressing their ideas is then not limited to/by developmental conceptions of language development or linguistic skills. The videos generated would disrupt a (westernised) focus on verbal explanation, whereby adults work constructively with 169


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constructivist theories to scaffold children towards adult-centric explanations, that is, explanations theorised by adult perspectives of the world, and explanations which adults can make sense of. Even in approaching researching with children as a multidimensional (ad)venture of reciprocity and responsibility among children-participants and adult-researcher, the preponderance for verbal explanations lingers. It is as if the quest is for continually ‘more effective’ ways of children verbally expressing their views, opinions and understandings. Despite my theoretical understandings expressed here, I fell into this positivist-modernist trap during the familiarisation sessions, of ‘needing’ words as I struggled to ascertain the kinds of questions that opened (to) fruitful conversation; and when the children, like Chloe, took the camera I continued to encourage them to talk about what they were videoing. Eventually I recognised this quest as but a surface annoyance of the tracing (‘the plan’ for ‘the research’) overtaking the map of the research, which would, given space, rhizomatically emerge. It appeared that video had the potential to subvert this need for words, the onus becoming mine to ‘read/listen/hear’ children’s various expressions of their understandings. However, not having children’s explanations risks (my) adult-construed (mis)interpretations, which may bear no resemblance to what was actually happening for the children. Video also has the potential to capture glimpses over time of what is happening, through various play spaces. It also made the data accessible to the children when reviewing or replaying the videos, as they were not reliant on text, or conversation even. In recording the videos and in transcribing them, I was also opened to worlds of children’s play(ing) as they performed their understandings of curriculum – I was immersed in and surrounded by the activity, enactively learning with, and embodied with/in the children’s understandings. The children, in (re)playing the videos, similarly opened to spaces for listening to and seeing themselves. This does not mean however, that I avoided totally falling into positivist traps of analysing behaviour, of psychologising and pathologising the children although it does mean that these were reflexively edited out of my thinking and writing – or at least watered down – as I pondered what the children are putting to work with/in/through their play(ing). In that (re)playing the videos became a way of slowing down and tuning into the children’s performance, they also enabled my reflexive understandings to (e)merge.

generating the data of this research project Data of this research were generated through processes of videoing the children at play, and by videoing, through a second camera, children who chose to replay the videos or ‘watch them-selves on TV’, as they described it. Hong and Broderick (2003) also report that children are attracted to ‘revisiting previous events by watching their actions on the viewing screen of the video camera’ 170


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(p. 15). For me it was a (re)play of their (re)playing. In anticipation of using children’s drawings as expressions of complex and abstract issues of their understandings (Rauch, 2001) I had brought into the kindergarten an assortment of high quality papers, crayons, pencils and pastels. However, during the familiarisation sessions I realised that utilising drawing as a strategy added another dimension to interacting with the children that would have required more time to develop than the time allocated to generating data. It would also have limited the data to children who liked drawing, so drawing became something some children did while watching~listening to the videos; others did puzzles. Overall, I was working to disrupt any power im/balances towards enabling the children’s power-fullness in which they could influence the research agenda by creating an atmosphere responsive to their ways of operating. Arguably, this is how teachers in many early childhood settings work to provide a programme of ongoing learning opportunities for young children, but overlaying a research agenda seemed to complicate my thinking and associated ways of operating. Throughout I needed to continually put the tracing of the research back on the map of the children’s play(ing), learning and expressions (verbal and non-verbal) around these. From a distance I now see that this was a slow learning process for me and I can appreciate the value of working with another, or group of researcher(s), in regard to discussing methodological issues and constraints. Into the second week of data generating, I was comfortable with following the flow of the children at/of the moment. By then, I was flowing as nomad~rhizome, negotiating middles of understandings, the children’s and mine. Videoing the children play(ing) afforded glimpses into their worlds of curricular understandings and my strategy was to engage with various children early in the session and follow their play. As there were always other children close by, mostly this involved small groups or children playing side-by-side. Sometimes I moved with the children through the setting; sometimes I would turn to another group playing alongside when one group moved elsewhere; at other times I would relocate into an entirely different space and group of children. There was no plan to video in specific areas for specific lengths of time. As nomad, I was flowing through the setting, following groups of children, moving through various play spaces. Some of the children were very interactive, talking to me as if the camera was not there; others disregarded me, although my presence was obvious; others seemed oblivious to my presence. Although wanting to leave the children’s conversation and their activity to tell the story, there were times when I asked a question, and there were times when they included me in their conversation. In all situations the camera did not seem to impede conversation. In a way, it legitimised my entry into their worlds of play and my looking and listening did not have to be explained – they knew I was interested in videoing their play(ing). 171


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It transpired that for much of the time I operated the camera, recording the play(ing) of various children, mostly in groups but sometimes individually as they requested. I attempted to consult the children in the moment, checking with them before beginning, or announcing my arrival with a greeting, or, not wanting to disrupt the flow of their play(ing), checking that it was OK only when they looked up and noticed me. Early on, Fleur, Maria and Lucy performed to the camera whenever I was within range, making wild, random movements and a range of loud, weird sounds. But, after a few days, like most of the children, they were unconcerned about the camera, sometimes ignoring me, sometimes looking at me but continuing the conversation of their games without pausing, sometimes including me in their conversation. The camera seemed to becoming less invasive of their games and their space even though it was always visible. Although there were many snippets in the videotapes when I had flowed with the children’s play(ing), abandoning lingering structuralist concerns of certainty – about getting ‘enough’ ‘good’ data ‘about children’s understandings of curriculum’ – was not always easy. However as various children took the camera, they affirmed the rhizo approach, as they readily flowed with children and games. Chloe’s footage illuminated that a nomad~rhizome approach yielded considerable meaningful data as she videoed most of the strong girls episode. (See the Children playing rhizomethodology plateau).

children videoing play(ing) Towards the end of the data generation period, more children expressed interest in taking charge of the camera. Jess opened this flush of recording by taking the camera at tidy-up time at the end of the eighth day. She had asked me to tie her shoelaces and, not wanting to interrupt videoing the group of girls playing with/tidying up the clay, I asked her to hold the camera. When viewing the tape later, suddenly the activity intensified as I saw the activity as children see it – faces in closer proximity, from a lower angle, children bearing down on the camera, not looking up to it, from within the middle of their world of activity and communications. It was some telling imagery of the(ir) power-fullness of/in their worlds. Also, Jess showed confidence in holding the camera and a sophisticated capacity for choosing the shot. Others in the group had a turn at that moment, but by next morning, they were more interested in continuing with their games. Over these last few days, various children took the camera, mostly for short bursts of time, videoing what captured their attention. The lens became a way of framing whatever it was they were interested in and often they talked about what they were looking at; it seemed to become a means of focusing their own attention, each with their own approach. For many children, the recordings 172


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identify artefacts that obviously matter to them personally, rather than other children’s activity; they seemed to be using the video camera to take pictures not action movies. Some of them did, however, video children playing. Brett could focus the camera in one place for relatively long lengths of time, spending five minutes seated on a strategically placed bench recording two girls on the swings and three minutes videoing boys making chocolate pies in the sandpit, moving on only when he was being splashed with sandy water. Anna, Ani, Cassie, Eve and Zoe captured the activity of children with whom they often played, taking turns to video each other. Although Fleur held the camera, Maria led the way through various indoor play spaces. How the children operated here is similar to Dockett and Perry’s (2003) research, which highlights children’s capabilities in communicating their insights about their educational experiences, particularly when in charge of the technology. However, the children’s video recordings of my research capture much activity beyond their immediate focus, activity that enriches the understandings of the complexity of children’s play(ing). On reflection, my expectations for the children to video the activity of others involved in games was overly ambitious. I was expecting them to step aside from their usual interactions, to distance themselves on the other side of the lens, to disturb the embodied nature of their play(ing) and interacting with the children around them. I was imposing my adult-centric way of operating in a research world on their childhood understandings of their worlds of curricular performativity. Even though I had recognised the difficulties (or impossibility?) of being on both sides of the camera, I was expecting that somehow they could be. But they did not pretend it was possible to be both camera operator/movie maker and player. However, I do wonder what might be possible over time if children had ready access to a video camera and a television through which to play their recordings of their play(ing). A review of their recordings suggests they needed considerably more time to work through the excitement of using the technology before engaging with a more creative use of the camera.

reflecting on the videoing process Having generated the data of my research project, I happen upon Walsh, Bakir, Lee, Chung, Chung and Colleague’s (2007) writing about their experiences of using video in research with children. Nevertheless, this is useful, as I write about, and continue to reflect on the process now. As St.Pierre says of writing her doctoral thesis: ‘This text appears to represent the real, but this inscription is a simulacrum, today’s story, and the following attempt to unfold the methodological processes of this project is limited and partial and a bit absurd, like all attempts to capture the real’ (St.Pierre, 1997b, p. 180, italics added). In this moment it certainly feels, as St.Pierre recognises, 173


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that analysis, methodology, data generation not only happen at once, rather they are one – that the methodology is affected by the thinking that has since occurred, becoming but a shadow, a resemblance of what (may or may not have) happened. Recognising rhizome at work, I continue to reflect on my experience with some possibilities and challenges of video as a research tool. Video deals well with capturing the detail of fast moving and complex activity of children’s play(ing) and these can be viewed repeatedly, in real time, slow motion or frame-by-frame, although what is happening off-camera can be frustrating – Who said that, and to whom? What is happening behind me? It captures shadowy details and subtleties, such as patterns of interaction that may not have been obvious at the time – like the intersecting lines of play among games unfolding side-by-side. Although not possible to be in the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time, to see everything all at once, in the replaying more and more is noticeable – a word or action can go unnoticed through several viewings, particularly when there are groups of children interacting. Transcribing often took several passes to create an overall picture. In the first viewing, I worked with the interaction as a whole, then focused on one child at a time through the sequence to pick up more of the conversation, gestures and interactions. Even then, I found that each time I returned to various snippets, I noticed things I had not seen~heard before, which leaves me wondering if I could I ever pick up everything. Video contains a mass of information, taking hours to transcribe the complexity of a snippet of a few minutes, the resulting detail offering both possibilities and challenges, as others have also found (Ratcliff, 2003, cited in Walsh et al., 2007). Some of the transcriptions became so intense it was hard to write about the complexity of the play(ing) in a way that would be understandable to the reader, but the challenge of textualising the complexity urged me on, hence the various ways of working the data throughout the plateaus. Video undoubtedly more readily captures the complexity of what is happening than is recordable in field notes or with audio alone and revisiting various snippets kept me with the actuality of the moments. Another challenge of video as a tool is the risk of thinking the video captured everything that was happening, as the ‘lack of direct participation leads to a loss of contextual information not easily deciphered’ (Walsh et al., 2007, p. 48) from the videotape. More than once I journal-ed that it was impossible to be on both sides of the camera at once, to be camera-operator and participant in the research; if it was possible, I did not work out how. At least I was visible with the camera and the children were continually aware of my presence – there are many moments that capture a glance in my direction. On reflection, I may have been able to capture more contextual information had I paused after videoing each play episode to (re)write the story in that moment, but that would have interrupted the rhizomatic flow and may have lead me to focus on certain scenes and sequences that 174


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seemed important at the time and dismissed opportunities for flowing with the unexpected. Also, I could have become even more entangled than I did in tracing(s) (of) the research, so that mapping would have stayed in the shadows. While video makes accessing the complicatedness of detail possible, it also works well as a way of generating data that enable (a) negotiation of the complexity in children’s play(ing). It also opens (to) possibilities for infinite rhizomatic wanderings with the participant~researcher children towards multi-dimensional intensities of understandings of their curricular performativity.

(re)viewing the videos ~ (re)playing the play(ing) In working to understand more of young children’s conceptions of curriculum, my intention was to collect data by videoing the children involved in various learning experiences, then to take time in the latter part of each session to review the video, with any children who were willing to be involved. In this way I hoped to encourage them to tell more of the stories about their learning. I anticipated that this would involve nomadically entering conversational spaces with the children towards furthering my understandings of their curricular performances. Working with a list of comments and questions to foster the conversation, my intent was to seek their ideas in a conversational interview (Kvale, 1996). I also anticipated that the children drawing about their learning experiences would add to the conversation. However, during the familiarisation sessions it became obvious that questioning the children or trying to engage them in conversation about their curricular understandings was a strategy that would not work in that we needed more time than was available to experience this way of being together (Cadwell, 1997). Also, structuring the review session in this way did not correspond with the more informal organisation of the programme familiar to the children and was going to be disruptive to their preferences for the use of their time at kindergarten. Part of the problem was that I was thinking of data ‘collection’. Having thought through understandings of data collection and data ‘gathering’, which imply data are stuff to be picked up, then through notions of data ‘producing’, in which there is a sense of effecting end results, I came to understand this as data ‘generation’ within my research project. This generative understanding considers forthcoming opportunities, infinite possibilities and potential for an ongoing openness to dynamic discovery processes of permutation, casting aside, (re)visiting, (re)turning to, (re)combining (Corballis, 1989; Mathews & Cochran, 1998). Generativity involves matters of always already recursively enfolding world and be(com)ing, in contrast to a structuralist worldview that considers these and their processes as (having) discrete constituents, of which notions of collection, gathering and producing are reminiscent. Data generating reflects an ‘active, creative and improvisational process’ (Walsh, Bakir, Lee, Chung, Chung, & Colleagues, 2007, p. 44). Making video recordings was useful to this. 175


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It was this reviewing process that I envisaged would optimise the children’s participation in the research. As the children adopted a reflexive stance, telling me more of their stories about what they were thinking and doing, they would be ‘actively interpreting and shaping the research process’ (Christensen & James, 2000a, p. 5). But, as it transpired, (re)playing the videos happened only if someone requested it. From the first explorations with the video camera, the children were intrigued with the replays of themselves. In consultation with the teachers, I re-arranged a corner of the kindergarten (Figure 12), making space for a 21-inch television set on a low table in the corner. Using tape, I defined an area on the mat that ensured the children were a safe distance from the television and within range of the second video camera, positioned on a desk in the adjacent office and angled to record the review sessions.

Figure 12: Reviewing area showing position of second camera on tripod for videoing the review sessions. (Drawing by Warren Sellers).

Replaying the videos only as the children requested, respected their control of the research in their combined roles of participant~researcher. This worked well whereas my ideas for organising review 176


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sessions would likely have generated less interesting data and jeopardised the continuation of that part of the process after the initial excitement of seeing themselves on television had faded. Researcher and participants had been drawn together as researcher~participants in a reflexive community of research practice (Sumsion, 2003), into a participant~researcher~research assemblage, with conversations (e)merging from the re-play(ing), not from any questions or questioning, including, ‘talk of many things’ (Robbins, 2002, p. 13). Even the child who had chosen not to become part of this rhizo-community and the one excluded by her/his parent opting for her/him not to participate were part of this assemblage, their presence contributing to the continually de~territorialising affect, although data that had captured them were deleted. But, in my enthusiasm to play the first video tape through the television set, I overlooked alerting the children to the second camera. However, Fleur soon noticed it, announcing: Hey that is taking photos of us. This was a timely reminder for me about avoiding deception. There was often a revolving group of children, some more vocal than others, some absorbed in watching themselves, others happy to watch others at play: There’s me and you, Kate! Hey! There’s you Chloe! Hey! There’s me! Some watched for considerable time, talking about the games they were playing; others came and went quite quickly. On one occasion, Fleur and Maria talked for thirty minutes about an Indian princess game they had been playing, a game that on the surface had looked as if nothing much was happening. Several days later, their attention to a complex game was different, a game which had appeared to me rather random and haphazard as I videoed it. This game involved a mother~pilot~doctor, baby~co-pilot, shop assistant~office person~neighbour~sister~would-be pilot and papa~house-minder~not-wanting-to-be-pilot (See the Play(ing) plateau). Fleur started out on her own telling me what she understood of the game, with me pausing and rewinding as instructed: Oh yeah. Let’s stop here. Let’s stop here (clapping her hands). Eleven minutes later, Maria and Lucy join in and for the next thirty minutes they play with puzzles while watching the television set, making comments, responding to my questions and comments, sometimes looking up and saying nothing when parts of the conversation attract their attention, working together and on their own with the puzzles and talking about these as they go. The complexity of the game they are watching unfold on the television screen is replicated in the way they are reviewing it as they interact with each other, the television screen, the puzzles and me. At times there was much hilarity among a group, as with Matt’s fire-fighter episode (noted before). Several times, groups of individuals watched for a while, and then went off to revisit the game, albeit a day or so later – Brett said, Let’s go and do that again, and off he went with his mates to dig another huge hole in the sandpit. Maria, Fleur, Lucy and Chloe had watched their game of Rapunzel 177


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when Maria announced: We might play that in the family corner. Um now we are going in the family corner. C’mon, I’ve had enough of watching this. Later, I noticed that the game had evolved differently – Eve and Maya had joined in. Similarly inspired both to play and watch himself on television, Rylie asked to be video-ed playing with a ride-on digger and a trolley. After watching the video of his play(ing) for about five minutes, he decided to do a puzzle at the same time and once completed to make a drawing of it. By the time the sequence stops, eleven minutes later, he is proudly displaying his drawing of a Māori carving (the puzzle) and is telling me he saw one like it on holiday. The reviewing led Rylie on a quite different line of flight.

children engaging with reflexivity Corsaro and Molinari (2000) report young children engaging with reflexivity as they are encouraged to think beyond their current experiences to imagine themselves in future school experiences. Hong and Broderick (2003) utilise instant video revisiting as a way of asking children to recall ‘past experiences as a platform for further exploration of new ideas’ (p. 3). In reviewing videos of their play(ing), the children of this thesis-assemblage similarly engage with a kind of reflexive thinking as they (re)consider their involvement in their games. This happens in various ways. For example, Matt laughing uncontrollably as he realises the problems he and Jonty were having with their fire-fighter helmets slipping down over their faces was not that they were too big (being authentic, adult-sized helmets) but that they both had them on back to front. Of another game, Fleur reflects on Maria being in charge as she comments: Bossing me around (grins) yeah. Later, Lucy refuses to comment about her bed in the cupboard despite Zoe claiming it to be scary, and Maria says she never gets shut in the cupboard because she’s the mother and because she doesn’t like being in the cupboard. All these children engage with reflexivity as they contemplate previous play experiences. Tim also demonstrates reflexivity as he continues to work with his expressions of power-fullness beyond the data snippets discussed in the Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full plateau. Having understood that he did not want me to follow him, I was later videoing a game in the sandpit when he suddenly danced in front of the video camera, waving his rolled up light sabre map at me. Operating reflexively, I check that it is OK to video him as his playing to the lens suggests he wants to be videoed. MS: Hi Tim, I thought you were tired of being followed. Tim: Mmmm, well, we’re not anymore.

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Tim, in this moment acknowledges his reflexivity. The intrapersonal and interpersonal dialogue that reflexivity affords goes some way to meeting ethical challenges of researching with children, particularly relating to issues of power and power-fullness. As Christensen and Prout (2002) say, this kind of dialogue not only helps ‘to sharpen researchers’ knowledge and internal personal discussions but also treat the increasing involvement of children in research with the respect that it deserves’ (p. 495). They also note that a complementary dialogue emerges from/with/in reflexive processes as consideration of ethical issues are intensified through drawing on experiences of published researchers meeting ethical dilemmas and using these experiences to ‘help to identify strategic elements of ethical practice on which to build future research’ (p. 495). Reflexivity becomes a way of taking responsibility for children involved in research as commonalities with adult research are recognised and differences respected, as a critique of children’s social positioning is engaged with.

responsible~responsive~response-able research relationships Research(ing) with children involves thinking about how we might do research differently. It requires that we (re)think how we connect with young children with/in research relationships, noting that ‘feminist and postmodern theoretical perspectives regarding non-exploitative research have paved the way for research with children’ (Krieg, 2003, p. 89). The concept(s) of ethics discussed in this plateau are identifiable as (a) western(ised) construct(s) and although intermingling and complex, their origins in structuralist frameworks remain. However, possibilities for generative understandings of ethical considerations that are poststructurally openly context specific and culturally bound come through a combined reading a Deleuze’s approach to ethics and Osberg and Biesta’s (2007) concept of strong emergence, which is concerned with questions about responsibility and response. In research(ing) with children, we need to adopt a heterogeneous view of children and childhood, such as one that respects becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full becoming-researcher(s). These understandings dissolve the modernist adult|child binary and open to working with children in their ‘namings of the world’ (Freire, 1972, cited in Krieg, 2003, p. 91) with/in a ready acceptance of equitable relationships. Engaging with a kind of communication, which responds with dignity to children and the worlds of their childhood(s) is eloquently stated by Ellsworth (1989): If you can talk to me in ways that show you understand that your knowledge of me, the world, and “the Right thing to do” will always be partial, interested, and potentially oppressive to others, and if I can do the same, then we can work together on shaping and reshaping alliances… (p. 324) 179


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Similarly, Bauman (1993) considers that ethical sensibility in postmodern times is about taking responsibility for the Other, the minority that includes young children. This is not to reduce the Other to the Same (of adults) in forms of paternalistic control but to respect difference. Notions of responding responsibly and responsibility (Osberg & Biesta, 2007) and of being responsive and responsible (Hedges, 2001) open to reciprocal research relationships respect-full of becomingchild(ren). In these kind of relationships, communicating is an active endeavour always already involving children and adults heterogeneously, towards perturbing pervading power relations of the adult|child binary. This communication stays open to constant critique as all relations among subjectivities of becoming-adult(s) and becoming-child(ren) can never be any more than partial and interested. Also, simply following past directions of knowledge and know-how ‘makes of ethics and politics a technology [and] begins to be irresponsible’ (Derrida, 1992, quoted in Osberg & Biesta, 2007, p. 45). But, always already in flux, relations can be(come) more, as multiplicities of response, responsibility and responsiveness, engendering reciprocal response-ability of children and adults. Yet, avoiding irresponsibility is not a simple exercise: In an emergent universe…simply following the rules can only be seen as irresponsible for the present moment does not follow the same rules as the moment that has passed. Since each new present is radically new, in that it contains elements that were not present in the past, each new present requires its own unique [responsible] interpretation. No existing interpretation or set of rules can do it justice. This, however, does not mean that we can ignore what came before. If we ignore lessons from the past we again become irresponsible. We must therefore make two apparently contradictory gestures [of responsibility] at the same time. We must make a decision now, based on what has come before but at the same time we cannot rely on what has come before to make this decision. (Osberg & Biesta, 2007, pp. 45-46, italics in original, underline added) Acting responsibly in researching with children is not about reproducing past, structurally-informed ethical relationships, rather, following Osberg & Biesta (2007), research and its contexts ‘should be thought of as places where the world is renewed’ (p. 47). But, this is something of an im/possibility, as: ‘The condition of this thing called responsibility is a certain experience and experiment of the possibility of the impossible…there is no responsibility that is not the experience and the experiment of the impossible’ (Derrida, 1992, cited in Osberg & Biesta, 2007, p. 46). And, ‘[t]he idea of [research and its contexts] being places where the world is renewed is very much caught up with the idea of human subjectivity since it is largely the choices made by human subjects which cause the world to emerge in the way that it does’ (p. 47). So, responding responsibly in research contexts with children involves adults in opening to mo(ve)ments of im/possibilities for children as 180


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participants-researchers to respond so that their worlds may (e)merge. Thus, opening possibilities for becoming-child(ren) to engage as responsive and response-able becoming-participants~ researchers is an obligation of researchers to initiate with/in/through their relationships with the participating children. (Re)thinking research relationships as respect-full, engaging with reciprocity, responsibility and response-ability, eases a way through dilemmas and tensions of ethical concerns and methodological processes. It is with these responsible understandings and those of becomingchild(ren) becoming-intense becoming-power-full becoming-researchers that I have endeavoured to explain how I went about the research of this thesis-assemblage. The plateau, Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full, links with this plateau, also the Rhizoanalysis and Children playing rhizo~methodology plateaus connect with Rhizomatically researching with young children. Before leaving this plateau I briefly document my ethical requirement of reporting back to the community, and as part of disseminating the research data and findings.

reporting back to the community My researcher responsibility is to ensure that the participating children are respectfully represented as becoming-child(ren) and as young human beings in the dissemination of data and findings. This is always to the fore in publications, conference presentations and in the ethical requirement of reporting back to the community. One of the questions Cullen, Hedges and Bone (2005) say that researchers need to consider in dissemination processes, is: ‘Whose knowledge is valued in presentations and publications?’ (p. 6). The challenge for my research is to use Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophy to foreground the children in their telling of curricular performance and not let this philosophy or my interpretation of it to dominate. Also important to early childhood poststructuralist researchers is to subvert any tendency to represent young children as ‘cute’ or as ‘normalised’. Working rhizomatically to generate this thesis-assemblage has not been a straightforward (linear) process as with most research, so there was not an identifiable moment when I would have something specific to report to the parent community. Time has passed as I have worked on the writing up~down of the research and, three years on, the children who were the prime players in the data generation are now at school. Occasionally I returned to the Kindergarten in the course of my work and, once the children I knew had all moved on, I was introduced to their younger siblings – This is Libby’s brother. Meet Matt’s sister. So while the participating children have moved on to school, some of their parents are still involved with younger siblings now attending the kindergarten. In mid 2008, I was invited by the Head Teacher to conduct a parent meeting about 181


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children’s learning at kindergarten. The invitation was in response to the ERO’s (Educational Review Office36) suggestion for addressing some parental dissatisfaction about the children, and boys in particular, not being engaged in formal desktop work. ERO was supportive of the teachers communicating the kindergarten’s philosophical approach to early childhood education. For me, this became an opportunity to share some ideas from my research about how we might think differently about learning and how these relate to preparation for school. Minimising my talking and involving the group in discussion, I used the digitally altered images of the Children playing rhizo~methodology to introduce ideas about reciprocal, responsive and responsible teachinglearning relationships and the idea that children have much to tech us about their learning. The ideas made for lively discussion, during which it transpired that some of the concerns were generated through understandings of how early childhood operates in the UK. Overall, my discussion points seemed to be a useful forum for the teachers to generate different ways of communicating their ideas to the diverse group of parents. As I write this, I realise I have not spoken with the teachers about how the parent concerns have panned out and whether the discussion was meaningful in the long term. If reporting back to the children was to be meaningful, it needed to happen within a few weeks of data generation, in a form that captured their attention and made sense to them. After the first day of data generation I decided to compile a record of the research process as the children were engaging with it, in the hopes of inspiring more in-depth conversation about what children considered important to their learning at Kindergarten. However, day-by-day research happenings did not make for a particularly compelling story for the children and although I added to the clearfile for a few days, it failed to capture the children’s attention and I abandoned the idea. But, the review session were a way of keeping the children informed about the data generating process, and in themselves, these seemed enough for the children to respond to. I decided that adding in more ‘talk’ about the research was being overly invasive of their learning~playing time in the Kindergarten, and although the children did not respond in ways I anticipated, replaying the videos was a way of sharing information with them. For much of the time there was not a lot of detialed conversation, just brief comments made to each other, but it was apparent that the children who watched the replays enjoyed watching their play(ing). Had I asked them later, what they enjoyed most about being involved in the research I think it is likely that they would have replied: ‘Watching ourselves on TV.’

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ERO reviews the operations of every school and early childhood education setting on a three to five yearly rotation. Part of their brief is to interview parents.

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I did return to the Kindergarten six weeks after the data generation and the participating-children still there were keen to reconnect and update me on significant events: Adam and Jess were going to school soon; Maria had gone already; Fleur said she didn’t miss her but someone else did; Fleur showed me her ‘beautiful’ skirt; Lex showed me his new spikey hairstyle created by his mates in the family corner/hair salon and he and Adam offerred to spike my hair; Chloe looked at me querously, as if I wasn’t real; Callum asked, Where did you go?; Alice made me a painting and she explained that Eve had showed her how to draw with a candle and paint over it with dye; Fleur showed me her profile book and told me Bubbles, the guinea pig had died; Fleur, Chloe, Lee and Eve told me the story of Bubbles’ funeral and took me to her grave. I sat with Chloe at the small picnic table and at the dough table as they tidied it and we talked about the fun they had when tidying up. I talked with the teachers about the children’s curricular performance demonstrated in their play(ing) and the possibilities I saw for their learning. I had not yet noticed that it was becoming-children becoming power-full with/in the complexity of their play(ing), mostly in/of their games, that was significant to the findings. At that time, I was thinking that the socialising was what was mattered most to the children, that everything else that happened was but a plateau with/in/through which the socialising occurred and that for the children it seemed that being with friends and learning to do things together was significant. It seems now that the participant~researcher relationships of those few weeks mattered too – any discrepancies in my intentions for the children as participant~researcher and actualising the research were hopefully mediated by the affirmation of the children as becoming-children with/in/of research processes and power-full players in their own learning. I talked with the children at mat-time about the fun times we had together – videoing, watching the videos, drawing, talking. I continue to ponder how I might conduct a similar study elsewhere sometime, now that I have ironed out a few wrinkles in the methodology, although perhaps I would only find more (exciting) folds to explore. In returning to Sunshine Kindergarten I was reminded of how much the children matter in/to the whole research process and of th eimportnace of showing my respect in the research text without romanticising them, their childhood(s), their play(ing) or curricular performance and their understandings.

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Becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full Children’s questions are poorly understood if they are not seen as question-machines. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 256)

opening to power-fullness Using the term ‘powerfull-ness’ as a way of problematising conventional notions of power, being powerful and empowerment (Sellers, M., & Honan, 2007), in this plateau, I foreground the power relations between me, as adult-researcher, and Tim, as child-research participant, in which relationships embedded in the modernist adult|child binary and researcher/research participant interactions are entwined. All too often young children’s expressions of how they understand the workings of their worlds are either not understood or not listened to. Even when my intentions to ensure the data generating of the research project was a conjoint endeavour with the children, I inadvertently fell prey to the research taking over and to being party to compromising Tim’s flows and expressions of power-fullness. After a second encounter with Tim, his forthrightness led me to understand the (mis)placement of power relations. The idea of children becoming power-full draws on Deleuzian and Foucauldian notions of power, which I understand as power-fullness, and brings these alongside the concepts of empowerment and whakamana in the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood curriculum. In foregrounding Tim’s expressions of power-fullness, empowerment is disrupted. Tim’s challenging question~statements directed at me on two different days – You following me everywhere we go! and You’re following us! Why are you following us? – were statements and directives to not follow him and his friends; the question was rhetorical. But, it was not until the second interchange that I understood the implications for Tim. In the first situation, I missed the machinics of his enacting of power relations and did not hear his expression of flows of power-fullness. Through the second interchange, I came to actually understand Deleuze and Guattari’s quite simple statement: ‘Children’s questions are poorly understood if they are not seen as question-machines’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 256) and to understand the machinics of Tim’s power-full flows.

flows of power-fullness Both Foucault and Deleuze work with the understanding that power is a force in perpetual motion that flows through social networks, an affect that is operational. This is a reminder that Tim’s relationship with me is only a part of the network of power-full(ness) at play in the two data 184


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snippets used here. In these, my attention is with showing how Tim’s flows of becoming-power-full works to play this out in relation to the power-fullness flowing with/through me. In so doing, he disturbs historical discourses that position children as incapable, immature, weak and needy. His expression of becoming-power-full disrupts the adult|child binary and any associated hierarchical privileging. He generates understandings outside the agentic child as one who is always already becoming-child(ren). He works with power as relational and operational and shows how this is part of his understanding of his learning and of curriculum. Tim’s question – Why are you following me everywhere we go? – is a question-machine.

disrupting empowerment Empowerment is a modernist concept involving someone doing something for someone else in a hierarchical, top-down relationship, that is, empowerment is the ‘action of empowering; the state of being empowered’ (empowerment, 1989). In this, a more powerful outsider ‘bestows’ power on a powerless being. Power and authority to an end, or for a purpose, is invested, imparted, authorised, licensed, enabled, permitted.37 All imply someone greater and stronger doing for someone lesser and weaker and communicate a sense of an authoritarian, deterministic notion of control as one body claims authority to free another from a state of powerlessness. In these terms, empowerment is perceived as liberating bodies from a position of powerlessness, bodies that are (supposedly) oppressed, repressed and disempowered. Power in this way is understood as a thing, as something some people have more of than others, as something a body grants or is granted. Power is hierarchical, perceived as pressure exerted from above – those above oppress those below, enforcing submission. In this understanding, empowerment is perceived to be a desirable, liberatory force for individuals affecting control in/of their lives. Thus regarded, it is a state of being that young children need to be endowed with by the world of adults (Brandtzaeg, 2006; Holt, 2004). To think about empowering children in relationships implicitly positions adults over children. Empowerment requires that adults claim power ideologically by assuming the child as inferior and that in order to be more like adults, to catch up, to be admitted to a higher position hierarchically alongside adults, children are needy beings, less fit than adults. It requires that adults make decisions for, on behalf of children, to advocate for them about what they need to know, for example, and how they need to go about acquiring certain knowledge and skills. Empowerment assumes children to be incompetent in this regard, not to know about what it is they need to know;

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I acknowledge my frequent use of ‘enable’ throughout this thesis-assemblage. Within the poststructuralist endeavour of deconstructing the power of language, I have not identified a term that works any more productively than ‘enable’ to disrupt hierarchies of power. Although, it has modernist undertones, I continue to use it.

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children are regarded as lacking in knowledge, as being unknowing. At best, they are seen as having immature understandings of what it is they need to know, to have little, limited or no understanding of why they need to know certain things and of being incapable of articulating their knowledge competently. Within this structuralist view, children need to have advocates to empower them – well intentioned and undoubtedly caring adults to decide what they need to know and to provide an environment conducive to receiving this knowledge. Whether empowerment is granted to children, that is, they are allowed it or presented with circumstances that enable them to practise it, empowerment remains a thing that adults provide for children to satisfy the needs legacy of developmental approaches to children and childhood(s). As Holt (2004) says, empowerment ‘seems to be clearly located within modernist imperatives to emancipate’ (p. 15). But, even in this deconstruction, I heed Rose’s (1997) warning, that pretending to be fully conscious of all my desires and motivations, and the forces and constraints that operate on them is to deny the partiality of the accounts and my understanding of my subjectivity. I am unstable and dynamic with a power-fullness that is my own, and in working not to impose this on others, to entirely avoid moments when I do, is likely impossible.

whakamana One of the four guiding principles of Te Whāriki38 (Ministry of Education, 1996) is empowerment, which parallels the Māori concept of whakamana. But given that language works to express cultural beliefs, a traditional Māori understanding of whakamana cannot be completely defined in English terms. Language does not fully cross through different cultural understandings, so whakamana can only be authentically represented in Te Reo. I can but attempt an explanation in English terminology, mediated by its use by Māori in English texts. It appears that a traditional Māori understanding of whakamana is subtly different from empowerment. As pākehā39, I start with The Reed Dictionary of Modern Māori (Ryan, 1997): the prefix whaka is translated as ‘cause to do, in the direction of, towards’, and mana as ‘integrity, charisma, prestige, formal, jurisdiction’. In these terms, whakamana communicates a somewhat intangible, respectful recognition of movement towards enhancing power-fullness. Royal Tangaere’s (1999) explanation of whakamana is of ‘listening, guiding and supporting [that] does not model a bureaucratic system’ (p. 8), and Horomia (2006) associates whakamana with leadership. Durie (2006) talks of whakamana being ‘the capacity to empower’ (p. 5, italics added) that bodies experience and that whakamana is a ‘whānau 38 39

Te Whāriki is the national curriculum statement for the early childhood sector in Aotearoa New Zealand. Pākehā translates literally as non-Māori, but is generally understood as the white, dominant majority.

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function that facilitates the entry of members of the whānau into the wider community, as individuals and as Māori’ (p. 5). He talks of whānau (the extended family) being a gateway into fully participating in the Māori world and in wider society. These all convey a sense of movement towards personal and communal power-fullness. Within this movement there is a sense of reciprocity, an always already connected awareness by the individual and recognition by the world, so that the inside and outside are always already working to create an environment through which the uniqueness of children – their gifts and traits – can emerge. Whakamana thus problematises empowerment. Although the concept of whakamana likely gets lost in translation between pākehā and Māori understandings of power, to excuse a misreading in terms of (mis)translation casts aside the importance of continuously working to understand the subtleties of differing cultural concepts. Similarly, although the Māori concept of whakamana was part of the Whāriki gifted by Te Kōhanga Reo to the early childhood curriculum, it is the English understanding of empowerment that commonly informs early childhood practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. This discourse of empowerment that works to constitute the minds and bodies of children is part of a network of modernist, and in this situation Westernised, power relations that pervade institutions (Weedon, 1987), including early childhood curriculum.

Deleuzian and Foucauldian power relations For Deleuze and Foucault, power is understood as a continuous force of relations, fluidly moving back and forwards within relationships among people and institutions; no singular person or institution can hold or exert power in a static and fixed way. Power in this sense is ‘diffuse and unformed’ (Deleuze, 1988, p. 73). It is not a thing with which some bodies are endowed; it is a force or affect that flows through and around relationships, affecting other related forces and affected by others. Deleuze explains Foucault’s conceptualisation of power: An exercise of power shows up as an affect, since force defines itself by its very power to affect other forces (to which it is related) and to be affected by other forces. To incite, provoke and produce…constitute active affects, while to be incited or provoked, to be induced to produce, to have a ‘useful’ effect, constitute reactive affects. The latter are not simply the ‘repercussion’ or ‘passive side’ of the former but are rather ‘the irreducible encounter’ between the two, especially if we believe that the force affected has a certain capacity for resistance. At the same time,…each force implies power relations: and every field of forces distributes forces according to these relations and their variations. (Deleuze, 1988, p.71, italics added)

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Deleuze and Guattari (1987) discuss power in terms of pouvoir and puissance. Pouvoir relates to the actual, puissance to the virtual. Their use of pouvoir is similar to Foucault’s as ‘an instituted and reproducible relation of force’ (Massumi, 1987b, p. xvii), a realm of Power and Domination (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). Different from this, but nevertheless part of the Foucauldian network of power, puissance describes ‘a range of potential…“a capacity for existence,” “a capacity to affect or be affected”…a scale of intensity’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, cited in Massumi, 1987b, p. xvii, italics added). Powers of becoming, as in children’s becoming-power-full, demonstrated by Tim, in the data of this plateau, addresses puissance as powers of intensity, constituting and constituted by (a capacity to) affect(s), made visible in his expression of power-fullness around his playmates; and around me, as (predominating) adult-researcher. Foucault (1980) considers power as ‘a productive network that runs through the whole social body, much more than a negative instance whose function is repression’ (p. 120, italics added). Power is always already everywhere, extending boundlessly through social relations. It is a force that is never isolated. Thus, power is not positioned in adult or child, for example, rather, it is visible in the social representations of adults and children that we create and work with. As a force it is accessible to child and adult, although most often, exacerbated by the prevailing modernist adult|child binary, forces of power are interpreted as negative affects for children, to the extent that ‘disruptive’ or ‘challenging’ behaviour is repressed rather than welcomed as children’s expressions of powerfullness. When power is perceived as non-linear, as continuously operating relationally with other forces and not as a singular force acting on various bodies, other possibilities for conceiving of power-fullness emerge around/with/in/through the interplay of relationships. I thus use the term ‘power-fullness’ to problematise modernist assumptions of power as a controlling, top-down effect, desired by all and possessed by few. Power-fullness responds to Deleuze’s (1988) provocation to ask not what power is and where it comes from, but to ask ‘How is it practiced?’ (p. 71). The ‘fullness’ of the term implies a condition of power common to all. My intention then is to work with power-fullness to disrupt modernist notions of empowerment, the adult|child binary and developmental, behaviourist interpretations of children and their childhoods. Thinking of children as similarly power-full to the adults they engage with and the institutions they live and learn within, disentangles child and adult from a disabling modernist understanding of power relationships, instead recognising that each is embodied in the other’s expressions of power-fullness – simultaneously becoming (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). The adult|child dualism is disrupted to affirm both, (re)conceiving the relationship

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as non-hierarchical. This problematises the modernist view that children need advocates empowering them and instead presents children in their capacities to perform power-fullness.

expressions and flows of becoming-power-full For Deleuze and Guattari (1987), becoming is a dynamic movement of change, a continual flow through unique moments of the constantly changing present. Nothing stands still in our thinking or being; the present is understood from within our past experiences and our memories of the past change as our lived experiences in the present accumulate. So power-fullness is always in process of becoming. Within the data there is a multiplicity of becomings expressed in many ways. I see becoming-child of singular children like becoming-Tim; I see becoming-children as the children work with their subjectivities together, as they make maps, play games, for example. I see expressions of power-fullness of each child and flows of power-fullness of their severalty. There is an intermingling of power-fullness and children, always already becoming. Becoming and powerfullness are inextricably entwined. To illuminate the becoming of children’s power-fullness, I use Tim’s power-fullness as he problematises power relations between us. This then problematises modernist assumptions of empowerment explicit in Te Whāriki. In the following data snippets, Tim performs power-fullness, affectively and effectively, as he confronts the complex network of power relations of our (participant) child-adult (researcher) relationship. Through his relationship with me as researcher, Tim works (with) power-fullness. His activity of becoming-power-full and the condition of power-fullness his activity produces becomes visible in the following transcriptions, the first from the dinosaur spider hunt and the second from the bad guys hunt a few days later.

expressing becoming-power-full ~ ‘You’re following us! Why are you following us?’ Zak is pulling a trolley, in which Tim is seated, holding their hobbyhorses. Coming down a rise, the trolley runs too fast for Zak to control. Tim yells: Stop! Stop! Stop! The trolley crashes into the wooden edging around the adventure playground area. Zak lifts his hobbyhorse out of the trolley. Tim sits for a moment then stands in the trolley, looks around the surrounding area and announces: This is our parking spot!

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Tim suddenly points at me: You’re following us! Why are you following us? Hands on his hips, he stares at me.

MS: Oh because I’m making a video of you. Is that OK? Zak (without hesitation): Yeah, that’ll be OK. MS: I can show it to you later on the TV screen. Zak trots off astride his hobbyhorse: I like watching TV. MS: OK, when you’ve been on your dinosaur spider hunt. Tim jumps off the trolley, sits for a moment on the end of it, and then follows Zak. Zak pauses, looks back towards Tim, calling: C’mon (…) it will be all right. Tim’s reply is inaudible as he picks up his hobbyhorse and follows. Reflecting on my response to Tim, I am aware that my concern was to openly answer his questions and ensure the data generation process remained transparent. My pragmatic answer to: Why are you following us? focuses on the ‘why’. I was videoing their game and, if they wanted, they could watch it later and we could talk more about what was happening. I seem unaware at the time of the significance of the preceding statement; of the accusatory You’re following us! Zak’s comments of I like watching TV and C’mon, it’ll be all right may have signaled no more than his desire for the game to continue, but they add to my (mis)interpretation that Tim was annoyed by the crash and my presence. I was unfazed by his annoyance, focusing on a calm, rational reply and unaware of what I later saw as Tim’s expression of power-fullness. At the time I thought we had reached an agreement 190


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to watch the play sequence later on TV, another reading of that moment is that I frustrated and misinterpreted his attempt at exercising power-fullness as he (actually) was implying I should leave them be. I was unaware of the pervasiveness of modernistic analysis in my thinking (my calm rational reply); it was not until reviewing the video later that, in a more generative reading, I recognised Tim’s expression of power-fullness. A few days later, when he again confronts me, I seem oblivious to the earlier encounter.

Tim’s flow of becoming-power-full ~ ‘You following me everywhere we go!’ A few days later, Tim is on a bad guys hunt with Piri, but their game is interrupted by challenges from several children. Josh tries to join the game: Oh yeah, and I’m the baddie and I stole your stuff. Tim resists: I’m going to call the bad boss to take you away. Josh clarifies: Oh, so you want to get me away. Others want equipment for their game. Aware that Josh has stolen Piri’s gear, Tim arranges his equipment for safekeeping on the top of a reel. Rory then jumps him from above, glaring at him at close range while Lex, who has rushed in from another direction, grabs at the camera, saying: Can I have that? I need it, I need a camera. Tim clutches the camera and they leave. Adam then arrives and debates ownership of the camera. Adam: You don’t really need that. Tim: Yes we do, we take pictures of us. We take pictures of each other. Adam: OK just give me the camera. Prospective ownership then oscillates: Adam demands the camera and Tim refuses to hand it over; Tim offers it and Adam refuses to take it; Adam again demands it and Tim refuses him; Adam stalks off and Tim runs after him trying to give the camera to him; Adam turns and points his hand, as if a gun, at Tim. Tim seems confused as he wanders after Adam. In the next shot, Tim is standing alone in the adventure playground area, back to the video camera, staring in the direction Adam, Lex and Rory disappeared. Tim (top left Figure 13) is amidst an arrangement of reels, planks and boxes.

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Figure 13: The scene of the pending confrontation.

Josh runs up a plank and jumps onto the cube beside Tim. Tim remains motionless, staring into the distance. Josh, still intent on playing with Tim says: I need to show you something. Tim looks up at Josh: What? Josh: Shall we hide from the teachers?

Tim says nothing, but walks past Josh, around the slide, then, feet astride, he turns to face me, at the same time exacting a decisive nod of his head. He is holding the phone by the aerial.

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MS (wondering whether Josh’s reappearance is hassling him): Are you all right Tim? He points the phone at me and shouts: You following me everywhere we go! At ‘we’ he looks in the direction of Josh, apparently now more friend than foe, and as he speaks, he gestures with the phone, holding its aerial and swinging it wildly.

MS: Is that annoying you? He emphatically nods his head twice.

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MS: Ok I’ll stop. Tim, grinning, strides off, out of range of the camera and me.

Tim’s flow of power-fullness in the bad guys hunt When Tim unequivocally expressed his annoyance at my following him in the bad guys hunt, similar to the earlier confrontation, my initial perception was that he was frazzled by the series of challenges to the game he was directing and disputes over his equipment, and that this precipitated his challenging comment to me. But, in the moment of this second confrontation I suddenly became aware of his expression of power-fullness. Tim seems decidedly unhappy about my videoing his game, his exasperated tone and gesture evident in his exclamation: You following me everywhere we go! This was not the response I was expecting to my query about his well-being. My observation at the time was that he had moved away from the children who were hassling him and that Josh had followed him. Josh had bounced into his reverie as he stood staring into the distance and, although seeming to engage with Tim with his suggestion of hiding from the teachers, I was uncertain how Tim regarded Josh’s appearance. On reflection, it seems that Tim and Josh were now working together to throw me off their trail. Josh suggested hiding from the teachers – presumably that included me. While Josh’s reference to my presence was more subtle, Tim, open and forthright, confronted the issue and me directly. Another thought is that the conflict with Josh was necessary to Tim’s game – after all, a bad guys hunt needs bad guys to hunt. So, perhaps Josh was a new player in the game. If so, Josh was not hassling Tim, rather he was now part of the game. Far from my thinking in that moment, was any notion that Tim’s disturbance was linked to my presence in the territory – of game and playground. Surprised out of my (mis)assumption by his challenging statement, I was pleased he had voiced his disapproval as that suggested he was 194


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exercising his right to non-participation in the data generation. His exclamation indicated that he felt safe to withdraw his consent, so I immediately turned my attention elsewhere. Although I may have again been a safe target for releasing his frustrations – in that he likely knew that I would not argue back like his peers had just done – my lasting impression is that I was a source of annoyance for him, if not all the time, at least in some moments. It was a sobering moment, Tim’s revealing to me that the equitable research processes that I was working hard to ensure were, actually, not; a timely reminder that researching with children requires ongoing negotiation. My power-fullness was overbearing and compromising Tim’s power-fullness and I was happy to be called to account.

flows of power-fullness in researching with children Although, while videoing, I was aware of Tim’s constant playing out of power-fullness alongside that of other children he connected with, it was becoming-power-full in relation to me that took me by surprise. However, I should not have been surprised. Later, when reviewing the video, I was disturbed, as supposedly respectful researcher, that I had not appreciated the invasiveness of my presence; my following him obviously came to the fore with/in his agitated condition. I was also disturbed that his initial expression of power-fullness had not affected my researcher behaviour. However, without denying my jeopardising of Tim’s power-fullness affects in this second confrontation, my response was undoubtedly coloured by an interim conversation with Tim, in which he dances in front of the camera demonstrating the workings of his light-sabre and affirms that it was now OK to video him. MS: Hello, Tim. I thought you were tired of me following you with the camera. Tim: We’re, we’re not any more. In this moment we see his expressions of power-fullness flowing rhizomatically. This rhizomatic flow is also perceptible in the moments of Tim’s confronting me for the second time. Tim, Josh and I are each rhizomatically processing through lines of flight of our own activity. Tim’s attention is with something or someone in the distance. Josh in his attempt to join the game, has followed Tim and is now suggesting they hide. I am trying to keep a respectful distance as I video the activity. Then, as our lines of flight intersect, flows of powerfull-ness around/through/with/in Tim, Josh and me are foregrounded; they (e)merge in a clash of ‘confrontation.’ (Figure 14)

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Figure 14: Rhizomatic flows of power-fullness.

Tim and Josh were flowing rhizomatically through the(ir) game(s) and their interactions with each other. Both were protagonist in their own games and antagonist in that of the other, as Tim hunted bad guys and Josh was a baddie. The game(s) they were engaged in (again) intersected when Josh suggested they hide and Tim nodded in agreement. Tim moves around past Josh, I come into his line of vision and he confronts me. I thought Tim and I had a workable relationship – he had affirmed he was not bothered any longer by my videoing him, but, on reflection, it seems I inadvertently subverted Tim’s flows of powerfullness. As I listen to myself on the recording, I recognise that my response is imbued with developmentalist, behaviourist expectations that give primacy to cognitive functioning. I respond to the ‘why’ of his question, overlooking powers embodied with/in my following him. I display an underpinning agenda that works to dispel his anger and frustration and promote a peace-full environment – this is not to deny I favour working for/with/in peaceable environments – thus exerting adult control over his emotions and imposing adult rules for the setting.

confronting the privileged adult of the binary Children in Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood centres are encouraged to ‘use words’, sensitive to others, to express feelings of frustration and anger; to talk about conflict with their peers, particularly if they are feeling their ideas or personal well-being are being compromised; and, 196


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teachers are expected to promote cultures of talking through conflict. Children often manage this without adult intervention and the children in this data snippet showed how they work with their difference. Supporting children (in resolving conflict) in this way is viewed as teachers empowering children. However, the very act of children resolving conflict illuminates their power-fullness, ironically disturbing the notion that they need empowering. It illuminates children as always already power-full players with/in the conflict that inevitably arises in their play(ing); also, that ‘conflict’ and ‘imbalanced’ power relations may not always be as they seem. Josh’s involvement in, and on the periphery of Tim’s game, as protagonist~antagonist not appointed but nevertheless accepted, can be conceived of as expressive flows of power-fullness as Josh plays through/with/in power-fullness of his own making, and with Tim’s. Tim plays with power-fullness as he rejects Josh and accepts him as ally, in removing themselves from my presence and/or removing me from theirs. Tim is forthcoming in expressing disapproval and always already flows of power-fullness. However, in working with/in situations that enable children to play out/with power-fullness, children are affected by flows of power-fullness that are intensified by/around teachers, who promote adult-centric approaches for conflict resolution. Although encouraging children to talk about/through conflict is considered necessary to achieving a peaceable resolution, in itself it exemplifies Foucault’s (1980) proposition that power is a force that is never isolated, that power is not a singular force acting on various bodies but rather operates in relation with other forces. This ‘empowering’ of children is dependent on adult’s dominating, more powerful perspectives of how resolution is ‘best’ achieved. Rather, power flows back and forth throughout social networks, accessible as expressions of fullness. Focusing on the why of Tim’s question by reminding him of my reason for being in the setting likely engendered acquiescence on his part – my adult (pervading modernist) rationale disqualified him from any option but agreement with my agenda. I (mis)interpreted his challenge as a curiosity question and missed that he was problematising the (modernist) power relations he sensed were in play. Apart from feeling that as poststructuralist~feminist~teacher~researcher I failed Tim in the moment, I am left wondering if any kind of research with young children is ever free of the dominance of adult flows of power-fullness. But as a Deleuzo-Guattarian ‘becoming-researcher’ my work is to relinquish adult|child dichotomous power relations in favour of capacities and conditions of becoming-power-full involving everyone. Tim persisted with this in the assertion of power-fullness as it flowed around/through him, affirming that power is a productive network running through the whole social body. He continued with becoming-power-full in confronting me a second time. 197


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So did Tim need empowering? In expressing his/the becoming of power-fullness, it is apparent he did not. In his becoming-power-full(ness), he was in charge and was not in need of anything that the adult world or modernist thinking may assume the right to provide. Tim in becoming-power-full as a young human being was not needy. The notion that teachers or adults are there to empower Tim is dispelled.

re(con)ceiving becoming-child(ren) becoming-power-full in curriculum In this moment, I (re)turn to the question: How does it work? I also wonder how children in conditions and flows of becoming-power-full work towards re(con)ceiving children in early childhood curriculum, curriculum in this moment understood as every person, situation, event and artefact that intermingle with conditions and capacities of/for learning. Philosophically, it is relatively easy to map relationships involved in the becoming-power-full of us all. But, living the experiences of always already becoming, such as becoming-power-full, amidst dichotomous tracings of modernist power relations is challenging. It is not easy to eliminate dominating developmental perspectives from our thinking. Even talking about becoming-power-full is unwieldy, yet if we want to change the way we think, to learn to think differently, we have to learn to use words differently, and when words no longer work, to use images to think with/through. Warren Sellers (2008) presents picturing as a rhizo-imaginary for thinking differently. For him using pictures to think about words enables a different turn in/towards thinking differently. Periodically, I also turn to picturing my thoughts with lines, although these are generally marked with words. In working with pictures (Figures 13 & 14) around Tim confronting my (inadvertently) powerful researcher role, I came to understand things that words of the transcription and my writing do not adequately communicate alone. Tim provides images in the video and enables picturing with/in my thinking about becoming-power-full as he works to express the ever-changing becoming-condition and becoming-capacities of his flows of power-fullness, through his activity of becoming-power-full. And, most significantly, as he problematises the power relations at play and disrupts the notion of empowerment, the becoming-child of Tim is illuminated in his rhizomatic flows becoming-power-full. This multiplicity of becoming-power-full disrupts the pervasiveness of modernist thinking in various ways. This rhizomatic way of perceiving power relations involves affects as becomings – ‘a constellation of affects, an intensive map, is a becoming’ (Deleuze, 1997, p. 64). ‘Affects are becomings’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 256). Affective happenings are some of the DeleuzoGuattarian and of becoming. In working with and…and…and… affect explains the forces embodied 198


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in all forms of social production – the dynamic movement of change, the continual flow through unique moments of a constantly changing present. So, Tim’s expressions of becoming-power-full can only be conceived as a constantly changing assemblage of forces, always already in flux, as a flow of expressions amongst relationships. In the process of working with these data snippets, I continue to become aware of the powerfullness imbued in my researcher role, despite my intentions to ensure equitable relationships in researching with the children. My understanding was that I never claim power over young children and that I certainly did not do so while researching with these children. However, in the transcribing process and subsequent writing, Tim opens my eyes otherwise, as I reflect on expressions and flows of power-fullness surrounding him, as he confronts me in my researcher role. I was shocked and then saddened to realise that my acclaimed poststructuralist researcher approach had slipped into an all-knowing adult perspective that oozed misplaced power-fullness. However, this failure was not cause for despair; I need not be overly perturbed about shattering Tim’s flow of power-fullness as Tim working with power-fullness was also working his understanding of equitable relationships. I say this, not in defense of my actions then or of my rhizoanalysis now, but to ensure that in the analysis I do not replicate any misplaced power in assuming primacy of my actions; also, to foreground the power irruption with/in this rupture of power-fullness. Continuing to reflect as I write, I realise my feelings of inadequacy about my (lack of) understanding of Tim’s expressions of power-fullness are inappropriate. They reflect the modernist concern that teachers (or researchers) are responsible for empowering children. As Tim draws attention to, in working to eliminate conditions that impede processes of children’s flows of becoming power-full, we cannot assume we are necessary to making it happen. To be overcome with feelings of inadequacy is to claim a position of power in an assumed modernist hierarchical adult-child relationship. To feel bad because I did not do something for Tim is misplaced in a poststructuralist reading. What is appropriate is to accept my actions as an (im)partial intermingling of Tim’s expressions of power-fullness alongside mine – and not forgetting the other children at play with theirs. My lack of recognition and associated inadequate support of his becoming-powerfull did not deter him or diminish his success eventually. Rather, it can be read as opening (to) an opportunity for him to express himself more loudly, to intensify opportune moments. This worked to enhance Tim’s becoming-child(ren), befitting a poststructuralist participant~researcher. It also worked to enhance my becoming-power-full around (re)presenting the data and hopefully around my future awareness of young children becoming-power-full. Deleuze (1988) explains the complexity at play here: ‘Power has no essence; it is simply operational. It is not an attribute but a 199


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relation: the power-relation is the set of possible relations between forces which pass through the dominated forces no less than the dominating’ (p. 27). When power is regarded in this way as an affect, Tim is not disadvantaged although in the moments of the snippets he works hard to ensure I understand this. From within this space-time of intersecting lines of flight, flows of becomingpower-full become apparent. Movement of power as affect is to the fore. A multidimensional multiplicity of power-fullness flows through/with/in/among the flowing of the game(s), the flowing lines of flight, the flowing of the video recording and flowing relationships among each other. Tim’s expressions of power-fullness forcefully appear as force, perturbing specifically positioned cause and effect-type discourses of power and empowerment.

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Rhizoanalysis Rhizoanalysis is fluid, flexible, conjunctive, re-generating, and fun – not a place of dry linear intellectualisation. (O'Riley, 2003, p. 28) Thought happened in the writing…I doubt I could have thought such a thought by thinking alone…anything can happen – and does. (St.Pierre in Richardson & St.Pierre, 2005, pp. 970-971)

opening rhizoanalysis As discussed in different ways throughout various plateaus, everything is always already happening. Opening is thus sous rature as opening to/the rhizoanalysis is already happening in the writing of other plateaus. With/in a poststructuralist approach, the writing of the research becomes part of the inquiry in that there is no difference between what the thesis-assemblage talks about and how it is made. ‘The analysis’ is thus not a constant thing relegated to a place of its own in this doctoral dissertation. Rather, the rhizoanalysis as ‘some of rhizome’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 9) of this thesis-assemblage happens throughout…and…I am uncertain that I could have written about rhizoanalysis before (my attempt at) making it work, before doing it. With/in/through processes of thinking rhizome in flux, working rhizome (im)provis(at)ionally, becoming rhizome as becoming-researcher, I am continuously experimenting with, and exploring my own thinking, thus becoming some of the rhizome I am attempting to generate and map (Tamboukou, 2004). So that even in writing the previous sentence, I come to understand working (with) rhizome as thinking~working becoming-rhizome with/in an understanding of processing as thinking~doing~rhizome. Rhizoanalysis (dis)continuously (e)merges with/in/through every dimension of my thinking as becoming-researcher; ebbing and flowing with/in/through matters of always already becoming. In the same way that writing (about) methodology was already affected by a growing understanding of how I saw (the) methodology working throughout, writing (about) rhizoanalysis is now affected by my writing (the) methodology and doing (the) rhizoanalysis. Nothing is separate or linear in the thinking or writing up~down of the thesis-assemblage. There is an ongoing intermingling of data, methodology and analysis with theorising the literature and practicing the theory. In various space-times, any of these or any relationship among these may be foregrounded, albeit momentarily as light and shadow pass through, like shadows of clouds on a sunny, windy day. Each becomes (an)other.

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negotiating rhizoanalysis Having videoed the children’s play(ing) – their performance of curricular understandings – the data generated was then reviewed by the children, this generating more data through a shadow of the rhizoanalysis. In this way, data are processed through rhizoanalysis and the rhizoanalysis becomes (more) data becomes rhizoanalysis…continuously…with both rhizoanalysis and rhizo generated data escaping positivist, clearly defined classification, blurring data becoming rhizoanalysis. It is not so much asking what this or that means but how understandings change through various mo(ve)ments and what happens with/in those mo(ve)ments of negotiating rhizoinquiry or, nomadic inquiry (St.Pierre, 2000b). Moving with/as mythical nomad allows me to think through and move across positivist imbued established categories and levels of experiences, ‘blurring boundaries without burning bridges’ (Tamboukou, 2004, ¶ 17) and working with/in/through ruptures and irruptions (Youngblood Jackson, 2003). Rhizome forms rhizomatically with/in/through different de~territorialising lines of flight of thought and thinking, intermingling with discourse(s) with/in/through which the children’s playing out of stories of their understandings are (becoming) unfolded. Rhizome invites a multiplicity of different thought, ways of thinking and ways of representing (blurred) data , ‘employing unconventional and unexpected genres, textual design, and representations’ (Jipson, 2001), calling forth a bricolage~assemblage~milieu~ multiplicity of (dis)connection(s), (dis)agreement(s) and (dis)placement(s) – confusing, messy (Law, 2004), ‘working the ruins’ (St.Pierre, 2000b; St.Pierre & Pillow, 2000). Despite my commitment to generating a rhizo text and to rhizoanalysis, challenges arose, mostly in the form of the pervasiveness of the ‘ruthlessly linear nature of the narrative of knowledge production in research methodology’ (St.Pierre, 1997b, p. 179) inherent in the expectations of conventionally informed methods of producing data, analysing, interpreting and reaching theoretical conclusions. Although qualitative poststructuralist methodologies disrupt positivist expectations, even in justifying choosing them, strategies utilised are imbued with lingering under/over/tones of scientifically structured thought and thinking. A rhizo approach, reflecting complexity and chaos theory, eased my way through as I negotiated passages of lines of flight as they appeared from/with/in the shadows, from the middle as I perceived them in the journey ahead, in the rear vision mirror and all round within my peripheral vision. Also, operating with/in a complexity of middles~muddles, obvious to me in my thinking, was eased by my artistic and creative capacities (Eisner, 1997).

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As I thought of what to write next, it seemed I had negotiated the tricky plateaus and those yet to be written would be ‘straightforward’, yet, every assemblage of ideas I could see in my mind’s eye abounded with intensities of complexity like never before. Conventional thesis writing determined I should simplify the complex and that frustrated me. Issues of clarity in the representation of the data in the rhizoanalysis loomed large and, although I could not articulate the problem more lucidly, St.Pierre’s (1997b) explication was (cold) comfort. Those who find the differences enabled by a poststructural concern with language confusing and sometimes difficult to understand demand clarity. On the other hand, those who find difference hopeful and productive continue to trouble language. To this point, it appears that the demand for clarity has won out…[despite] an emerging body of literature addressi ng the politics and ethics of clarity and accessibility. (St.Pierre, 1997b, p. 185) Perhaps I want my readers to get lost in middles of folds of ideas and my writing~thinking, that they may find their own way. My quest throughout this Rhizoanalysis plateau and the thesisassemblage is to find ways of ‘living with and knowing confusion’ (Law, 2003, p. 4) destabilising the tendency of pervasive linear approaches to research processes that deny the possibility of mess. In practice, research…needs to be messy and heterogeneous, because that’s the way it…actually is. And also, more importantly, it needs to be messy because that’s the way the largest part of the world is. Messy, unknowable in a regular and routinised way. Unknowable, therefore, in ways that are definite and coherent…Clarity doesn’t help. Disciplined lack of clarity, that may be what we need. (Law, 2003, p. 3) I do not want to condemn myself to meaning-making in/of old ways/days that are unlikely open to incipiently different possibilities. I do not want to order data to conform; I want to open ways for linkages to (e)merging ideas. I do not want to concretise these slippery mo(ve)ments. I do not want to engage with a text that neither resonates with rhizo theorising nor generative understandings of ethics, which together deny the complexity of children’s play(ing) that I could see, but did not know how to communicate in ways different from a conventionally linear text. But, does this ‘methodology of getting lost’ (Lather, 2007, p. 144) with/in/through the rhizo of methodology and analysis, of thinking~reading~writing favour me, as (initiating) writer of this text? Am I, and is the text ‘[p]erhaps too clever by far in its dizzying involutions and intellectual somersaults, such a messy text says yes to that which interrupts and exceeds and renounces its own force toward a stuttering knowledge’ (p. 146)? Then, Lather alerts me to the ‘danger’ of denying the activity of readers by ‘subsuming’ them within my ‘interpretive and textual moves’ and I am ‘caught in aporia,

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where to succeed is to fail in making the other part of us’ (p. 146). So I persist in the understandings that ‘our methods are always more or less unruly assemblages’ (Law, 2003, p. 11).

reader~text~writer as rhizo assemblage Although I needed to transcribe data into words, I had no need of coding, sorting, categorising and no desire to ‘produce knowledge based on these categories, which…are simply words’ (St.Pierre, 1997b, p. 179). Alongside my resistance to separate the rhizoanalysis into linear, supposedly clear and coherent, sections of narrative, was my desire to destabilise the reader|writer binary, not so much in terms of expert reader (assessor)|novice (student) writer~researcher, but with an understanding of writer~reader responsibility to work to understand a text. Problematising the demand for immediate and evident understanding opens (to) possibilities for different ways of writing (Richardson, 1990, 2001) and messy texts. Lather (1996) does not fear ‘reading without understanding’ or ‘not being understood’; she welcomes the idea of sometimes needing a ‘density that fits the thoughts being expressed’ (p. 528). Responsible engagement that disrupts the passivity of the reader (Spivak, 1994, cited in Lather, 2007, p. 147) seeks an ethics of response unique to situation and moment, an ethics evoked through the telling, (e)merging with/in engagement of machinic assemblage of reader~writer~text as reader~thinker~writer. Within postmodern educational research, St.Pierre (2000a) posits the need for a shift in attitude towards ‘assuming the burden of intelligibility lies as much with the reader as with the writer’ (p. 25). This notion challenges the critique that postmodernism is deliberately obfuscatory, but, as St.Pierre remarks, postmodernism cannot be ‘readily accessible and coherent within a structure it works against’ (p. 25). The silent conversation of such ethical exchange marked by personalised, singularised theoretical understandings that risk confounding the text thus invites mutual engagement of reading~writing~thinking. This is undoubtedly challenging when the text appears inaccessible and is open(ed) to personal absences in understandings, absences that can only be made intelligible by ‘the difference of the other’ (St.Pierre, 1997b, p. 186). Despite such challenges, St.Pierre’s expresses a desire to keep on playing with/in possibilities of spaces outside language that are opened (up) when words fall apart, exposing thresholds of being lost and confused in liminal spaces that open (to) communal possibilities for understandings otherwise in other ways. Intensifying meaning, awareness and understanding is not an isolated activity, it is a ‘community decision’ (Eisner, 1997, p. 6), always already in flux. With any sense of closure unlikely, many possible interpretations for/with/in rhizoanalysis become more and less im/plausible and the multiplicity of reader~writer~thinker~text becomes ever complex as reader and writer, both 204


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thinking and following lines of flight, their own and the other’s, within the silent conversation of (re)reading and (re)writing the text. In that it is not possible to say what came before this doctoral journeying, I think perhaps working (with) rhizo (e)merged from/with/in/through my artistic sensibilities as I (always already) (re)turned to the flow of ‘a stream without beginning or end that undermines its banks and picks like speed in the middle’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 25), and considering the powers of water, once in the flow, resisting is unwise. The rhizo flow of the thesis-assemblage invited response, and at the suggestion of my supervisor, although somewhat tentatively, I experimented with storyboards. Encouraged by the different way of working the data, I continued experimenting – with juxtaposing, creating interactive pieces among various texts of data (words, images from the videos), poietic representations of literature and transcriptions, with poems, commentaries and rhizo-imaginaries (Sellers, W., 2008) of mappings. From within the shadows, I was aware of ‘laying-down-a-path-in-walking’ (Varela et al., 1993), negotiating (an) academic milieu(s) of Deleuzian folds (Deleuze, 1993), St.Pierre’s (1997b) ‘transgressive’ data, Richardson’s (2000a) ‘writing as a method of inquiry’ and ‘skirting a pleated text’ (Richardson, 2000a). I was inspired by Trueit’s (2006) mythopoetic text, heartened by Law’s (2003) messy text, intrigued by Jipson and Paley’s (1997) daredevil research, informed by Eisner’s (1997) promises and perils of alternative ways of representing data and urged on by Holt’s (2008) creating interpretive visual texts; not forgetting my own creativity~subjectivity infused with a colloquially-innovative ‘number 8 wire’40 Kiwi heritage. I also wanted to artfully engage the reader of the thesis-assemblage in her/his own inquiry process, one/my passage calling forth other/readers’ passages, these passageways opening onto other passageways, becoming41 a/the reader~writer~thinker machinic assemblage, becoming the research and/of the thesis-assemblage.

rhizoanalysis and storyboards As I became entangled in an (im)possibility of trying to linearly represent the complexity of three intersecting play scenes, I became aware that I risked overlooking the children themselves in my wording of their activity. As a way of showing the children and ensuring their presence in the text of the thesis-assemblage, it was suggested that I present the data through storyboards. Interestingly, this also became a way for me to ease the reader into the milieu(s) of a four minute data snippet 40

‘Number 8 wire’ refers to a gauge of wire historically used by Aotearoa New Zealand farm workers in a variety of adaptive and inventive situations and circumstances. The term has become a colloquial metaphor for the capacity of many Aotearoa New Zealanders to accept and accomplish challenges that demand innovative and spontaneous solutions, as in: ‘She did a number 8 wire job on the bike and had it fixed in no time’ 41 Read becoming as both ‘turning into’ and ‘enhancing’.

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with which I had chosen to work. (See the Children performing curriculum complexly plateau.) For me, pictures are easier than words and I was surprised I had not thought of setting up words and images to work interdependently as visual texts. The storyboards become a way of illuminating various aspects of the children’s play(ing) of games related to various becomings – becomingchild(ren), becoming-curriculum, becoming-power-full. As well, the storyboards open (to) possibilities for exploring these understandings with/in/through the dynamic and constantly changing territories of their games. Selecting images that depict turning moments of the storylines unfolding was challenging, as identifying thresholds of significance within children’s games as they are played out is elusive, much of which was happening off-camera, with no images linked to the activity. Nevertheless, storyboards are a way of teasing the complexity from the shadows – of the storylines, my thinking, the reader’s reading – leaving the children’s words and activity to tell the story. But, I wondered how rhizo the analysis accompanying these storyboards actually was, and advisory discussions confirmed my thinking, that they necessarily foreground the temporal 'lines' of each story rather than the spatial rhizo-imaginary... So, what now? How to perturb the pervasive linearity, adversely affected by (unavoidably) paginating the text? Not wanting to disturb what I came to appreciate as a continually (ebbing and flowing) (e)merging rhizoanalysis that was impossible to generate in one pass(age), I pondered this. Initially I had written about the four minute snippet as ‘one’, with the different storylines intermingled but represented in different fonts, (the chocolate factory in Times New Roman times, the monster game in Arial, etc.) as I didn’t want to separate them out. The problem was I knew the data well and I accepted, although not without some resistance, that someone less familiar with the data would easily get lost and that would interfere with a reader’s comprehending the complexity of the children’s play(ing) and of understanding curriculum as milieu(s) of becoming. So I (re)turned to talk about the different storylines one at a time, gradually leading into the always already simultaneity that comprises complexity. Yet, despite my attempt at textually mapping the intersecting lines of the three games in the Children performing curriculum complexly plateau, the spatial rhizo-imaginary is lost in the separation; in the words I have generated but another tracing…and…I am still wondering how I could have explained the map in a meaningful way. For the moment, I’m thinking I couldn’t have. The map is a picturing of coloured lines and words that speaks for itself. Any attempt at ‘wording’ it confounded the communication (Figure 15).

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Figure 15: Intersecting lines of flight~mapping (a) curricular milieu(s).

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mapping data Generating other ways of thinking continues throughout the writing of the thesis-assemblage and so, I map more ways of how I might have approached the rhizoanalysis. There is always already a sense of and…and…and…, not to undermine what is already done, but to say that any part of (a) rhizoanalysis is always already contestable – to avoid any concretisation – always unfinished. There is always going to be more to be considered and said although there is a moment when the writing must stop – as a pause not an endpoint – with what is written merely demonstrating the limitations of what can be included in a thesis. Engaging with the ongoing rhizo performance, various map(pings) offer possibilities for an artful reading as I attempt to picture landscapes constituted by/of (an) intermingling (of) activity among children, ideas, imagination(s) towards explicating (a) milieu(s) within milieu(s). So, the rhizo exploration continues as I (re)turn to mapping, to make (a) map/s to plug the tracing back into, attempting map(ping)s that flow with the play(ing). I want something that can be superimposed on the tracings although I will not (re)work the text of the rhizoanalysis of the storyboards as to do so would obliterate the rhizo lines of flight I have followed. However, I am curious to see what will happen in regard to (re)creating the spatial rhizo-imaginary that I could ‘see’ in the beginning. As I am about to explore an emerging idea for re-mapping some of the activity pictured in one of the storyboards, I wonder, what affect this way of approaching the data might have had on/in the rhizoanalysis. But, it is impossible to tell now, from within the intensity of the continually (re)worked data snippet – the emerging complexity is embodied in my thinking about the (rhizo)analysis. Working only with the chocolate factory and Goldilocks storylines, I try various approaches, first, a juxtaposition of the conversation and activity in three columns with the Goldilocks text on the left, the chocolate factory in the extreme right column and the moments in which they intermingled, in the centre column. However, this tabulated form does not generate a sense of the complexity of the intermingling and I cannot see how to bring it together with the storyboard images to enable a significantly different reading. In landscape format, I then map the two games as they processed through the four minutes. This disrupts the linearity – makes a mess with method (Law, 2003) – and I can see what is happening (by following the colours of text and lines) and because it is all very familiar, but the page is overloaded with information and the mess, even for me, is overbearing to the extent that I am not sure that reworking it digitally would make it any easier to read (Figure 16). Although, digitally (re)worked it may have emerged as a pictured understanding, not reliant on words and dismissing the need for them. But intent on using words to explain my thinking, I continue, aware that I am limiting possibilities for thinking otherwise in this moment; that I am limiting the data. 208


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Figure 16: Messy map of another possible rhizo-imaginary.

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Then taking a snippet of the four-minute snippet, I generate an overlay that, for me, opens (to) possibilities for a rhizo-imaginary of the game in which text and images work together to depict the activity (Figure 17). Again using colour to connect conversational lines of flight, in this mapping the images and text are layered so the reading of the text is not orderly – neither by design nor direction – generating more of a sense of the flow of rhizo interactions among the children. In contrast, the transcription reads more like a scripted play unlike the non-scripted storyline that emerged in the play(ing) and as seen in the mapping. The kind of (rhizo)analysis of Children performing curriculum complexly that working the transcription in this way might have generated is not possible to say, as I (re)turn to it now with understandings that have emerged through the writing and thinking that has got me this far. Regardless of what this overlay does/not do for me, I am hopeful that it presents more of the complexity to the reader. But, even if I had happened upon this approach sooner, the rhizoanalysis would not remain in that one space any more than it has remained in any other. Again I become aware that a limitation to the representation of this thesis-assemblage has materialised over these last few pages that display my mappings. If the thesis-assemblage is printed in black and white, and not in colour as electronically submitted, potential readings of the maps (Figures 15, 16 & 17) are limited by the monochromatic version. In the same way that I have persisted with words and limited more complex readings that pictures generate, limiting these maps to a black and white presentation is to limit an opportunity to learn to think differently. As I continue to reflect, it seems that the rhizoanalysis becomes the text as much as the texts (words, images and literature) enable the (rhizo)analysis.

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Figure 17: Merging images and text.

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juxtaposing text in rhizoanalysis Juxtaposing texts was another approach I explored. Throughout writing the research, I wrote a few poems. They are moments of thinking that were easier to record in a poetic style, eliminating excess and decentering style. (See Appendix ii: embodied (un)consciousness). (Un)surprisingly, it was the centering of the text on the page that opened (to) an evocative and power-full way of presenting the text and processing data about children’s play(ing); the interrelationship between text and page affected the reading. The authorial, often authoritative ‘voice’, was disrupted making way for a kind of rhizovocality (Youngblood Jackson, 2003) that reflects a heterogeneity and performative dimension of unfolding expressions. Frustrated with a lack of inspirational literature and bored with play being projected as inevitably relative to development and behaviour and to sociological representations, I turned to Trueit’s (2006) semantic play on ‘play’. In this article, she responds to an invitation to bring complexity theory together with any term prominent in educational literature; Trueit’s choice was ‘play’. Her lyrical writing was refreshing, but the challenge was how to work with her ideas without locking them, or her wording, into a conventional academic style. I envisaged a conventional response taking an unnecessarily long time with the possibility of negating the living~playing of the piece and her writing in the process, and to explain what I sensed within her writing without making it dull was a daunting task. So, I selected words, phrases and sentences from her text that spoke to me of children’s play(ing) and reformatted them as a rhizopoietic gesture, reflecting the mythopoesis of her discussion. In this deconstructive reading, I attempted, and perhaps risked, a creative collision of possibly ‘incommensurable voices that do not map onto one another’ (Lather, 1992, p. 95), although at the very least I decided the experiment would foreground my way of linking assemblies of ideas as they brush alongside one another. The next challenge was to work with this without, again destroying what it (re)presented. Resonating with Holt’s (2008) juxtaposition of poetic workings of transcriptions with photographs, I placed a commentary alongside the mythopoesis just to see what would happen. I liked what happened – an opportunity to read the two texts freely and openly, without (an) imposing linear order to the ideas in both poem and commentary; each time I read it, it opened (my) thinking to something different (see the Play(ing) plateau for this juxtaposition). Later, I worked a snippet of data in the same way, creating an interactive piece, a (tripled) juxtaposition of Maria, Fleur and Lucy’s conversation as they negotiated a complex storyline, alongside my rhizoanalysis that attempts to not interrupt the storying of their play(ing). Later still, I positioned a third column alongside – their talking about the game as it unfolded for them (again) in a reviewing~(re)playing session – creating a tripled juxtaposition (see the Play(ing) plateau); and as 212


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I rhizomatically reflect on this tripled affect, other ways of reading it (e)merge in my thinking.42 In another moment, not wanting to interrupt rhizo flows of/in my thinking about children, I pondered how to poetically (re)conceive of them outside behaviourist or developmental perspectives. Poems of three becomings (see the Children and childhood plateau) open (to) rhizo ways of understanding young children, in this moment responding to becoming-child(ren) aged one, three and five years, without falling prey to a developmental hierarchy or behaviourist interpretation. The juxtapositions form evocative and power-full representations, but perhaps more important to assembling the thesis, they offer play-full interactions among data, reader, writer, texts (both words and images), (mis)interpretations, all (dis)continuously mis/dis/connecting.

(rhizo)analysis of other data snippets Throughout the rhizoanalysis, I work against ‘one best’ way of dealing with the data and instead flow through different forms of ‘analysis’. As well as working with storyboards and rhizopoietic expressions, in places I have approached the data in a more conventional way as I concentrated on bringing a Deleuzian reading to my understandings of the children, their play(ing) and their curricular performance. These workings are my earlier attempts at rhizoanalysis, bringing rhizome to the analysis in regards to philosophy rather than methodology, for example: Tim’s confronting my exploitation of his power-fullness (see the Becoming-child(ren) becoming power-full plateau) and children’s use of mapping (see the Rhizo~mapping and Children play(ing) rhizo-methodology plateaus). This rhizo processing began in the co-authoring of papers (Honan & Sellers, M., 2008; Sellers, M., & Honan, 2007), in which the rhizoanalysis of Children play(ing) rhizo-methodology was first produced. These publications demonstrate the impact of two people writing together about/through disparate curriculum policy texts in bringing together aspects of the Queensland English syllabus with the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood curriculum statement with Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophy. This involved different ways of approaching rhizoanalysis and a different way of writing together, which incorporates pieces obviously written by each author and pieces where the ‘we’ of our thinking and writing merges. Despite this conjoint experience of rhizoanalysis, when starting to generate more of the analysis of this thesis-assemblage, I was afraid of overworking the data, this being a response to a peer reviewer who commented on my (over)working Marcy’s story43 prior to publication of an earlier

42

Other ways of reading this juxtaposition continue to (e)merge only hours before submitting this thesis-assemblage – letting it go as it is – while reassuring myself that it is barely a beginning, that there are papers to be written, in which the exploration will continue… 43 See Letter to Marcy in the Preceding echoes plateau.

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article (Sellers, M., 2005). However, I was encouraged to discover that Guss’s (2001) doctoral dissertation about reconceptualising children’s dramatic play, uses only three videos, totalling fifty minutes of play out of the twenty three videos she recorded (Faith Guss, personal communication, 2 May 2008). This affirmed that the rhizoanalysis is indeed about multidimensional intensities (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) and that it was not necessary to add more and more data to elaborate understandings, rather it was about generating (a) milieu(s) of mo(ve)ments from/with/in/of liminal spaces towards thresholds of understandings. It was about mo(ve)ments of conceptualising children and their childhood(s) outside conventional normalising psychological, and sociological perspectives towards understandings of becoming-child(ren) becoming-intense becoming-powerfull becoming imperceptible becoming-curriculum. Moving through these (continuous, uninterrupted) passages of becomings opens (to) possibilities for understanding children and childhood(s) as curriculum, as assembling intensities of milieus of doing~be(com)ing~learning, as both heterogenous singularities and as several, together-as-one(s). No longer do we have hard data, firm foundations, secure places, fixed states, classified categories or stable ground in which to stand. It is about what we can learn from different ways of data representation, by exploring the edges and (re)thinking research (Eisner, 1997). Throughout the rhizoanalysis that rises up in various plateaus of the thesis-assemblage, I explore snippets of data seeking understandings that a traditional rendering likely excludes, reflecting continually on questions that challenge prevailing approaches, questions such as the following: By rhizomatically following the children’s play(ing), what was I getting and what was I giving up? What is revealed, what is concealed? Am I setting up yet another adult-centric reading of children’s ways of operating? Through the camera lens I inevitably frame my adult-centric gaze, but in flowing with the children, opportunities open (to) the complexity of their play spaces. Before beginning I gave up data collection as a linearly planned exercise, attempting to work with, and generate fluidity, where every/one/thing is in flux, but am I merely (mis)leading readers into flowing with my ideas and ways of thinking? Am I (mis)leading readers into negotiating (my) incipiently different territories? Do I want readers to flow with my (mis)representations? Do I want their negotiating these territories to coincide with mine? Do I want them to find their own way? How might the participant~researcher children feel about my (mis)representations of their understandings? Is the videoed visual sampling an authentic view of their play(ing)? Much of the time I operated the camera and decided which games and children to follow. But how did this/I affect their play(ing) because of my presence with the camera? Did they make imperceptible choices as to the what and how of their play(ing)? Did they imperceptibly choose what they would reveal? In which un/identifiable mo(ve)ments might I have been excluded? Is this research? 214


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According to Eisner (1997) it is in that it constitutes my ‘reflective efforts to study the world and to create ways to share what [I] have learned about it’ (p. 8). The rhizoanalysis is thus but an open/ing (ad)venture and it is in processing through/with/in it that I (be)come to understand more of how it works – by doing rhizome in the rhizoanalysis and exploring its possibilities. In my response to Deleuze’s (1995) concern for how imaginaries like rhizome work, I have come to an understanding of what it is as well as an understanding of how it works, by putting it to work within the thinking and writing of, not ‘the’ but ‘some’, rhizoanalysis. Happening as it does, interspersed throughout the thesis-assemblage, it avoids it being ‘the’ rhizoanalysis rather its intermittent re/oc/currence ambiguously becomes some (rhizo)analysis. As I leave this plateau, I remember the data snippet (in the Children play(ing) rhizo-methodology plateau) that initially intrigued me as it illuminated young children’s understandings of DeleuzoGuattarian mapping and rhizo methodology itself. Similarly, all the data snippets of various plateaus become the rhizoanalysis.

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Children playing rhizo~methodology Every voyage is intensive, and occurs in relation to thresholds of intensity between which it evolves or that it crosses. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 54)

nomadic flow By rhizo-methodology, I mean working as/with rhizome and following a nomadic flow. In flowing, the nomad does not operate in fixed or closed space or follow specified routes, rather s/he rhizomatically ‘re-routes the terrain’, its pathways and narratives (O'Riley, 2003, p. 28), metaphorically talking itself into be(com)ing, (re)mapping the map as it is mapped. In this, doing and thinking becomes (un)doing and (re)thinking through a flow that is simultaneously energy, force and motion, this nomadic flow embodying becoming, heterogeneity, ‘passage to the limit’ and ‘continuous variation’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 363). Flow cannot be determined, only followed, or mapped. Working nomadically is then about: unhinging habitual and reactive thinking, regularity and normalized inscriptions…grow[ing] from the middle, the cracks, the voids, the hyphens, the slashes, and the outcrops…undoing… remapping a different space…a whole new virtual landscape featuring otherworldly affects, always marginal and transversal. (O’Riley, 2003, p. 29) Working as nomad, working nomad or doing nomad opens (to) different ways of thinking, moving into spaces without boundaries to dream of other ways of be(com)ing and contemplate what it might mean to realise them. This moves outside a focus on what something might mean, for example, instead foregrounding questions like: ‘How does meaning change? How have some meanings emerged as normative and other been eclipsed or disappeared?’ (Scott, 1988, cited in Richardson & St.Pierre, 2005, p. 969). Working nomadically is not about tracing straight paths in thinking, doing and be(com)ing, rather it is ‘letting go of conventional wisdom and wilful ignorance’ (O’Riley, 2003, p. 21) and thinking outside overcoded (research) processes. The nomad works with de~territorialisation (being without boundaries), destratification (being undefined and/or undefinable), and lines of flight (composed of unlimited directions in motion of both thought and thinking) in a trajectory that distributes people in open, indefinite space, in which there are no points, paths, or land even (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). The nomad is always already in multidimensional, anti-genealogical, a-centered, non-hierarchical fluxive space with a network of interconnections that processes from/through the middle, continually coming and going. 216


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nomad~rhizome Flowing nomadically with rhizome involves a complex interplay of following lines of flight and passaging through various territories, such as physical and imaginative space of the games children play and the relationships among players. These are ceaseless and ongoing connections – ‘any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 7), assembling as an a-centered milieu of perpetual and dynamic change without specific end or entry points, or beginnings and endings. In this smooth space of nomad~rhizome, there are no points or positions, only lines, and working with these lines, as de~territorialising lines of flight, opens (to) possibilities for connecting what otherwise may be regarded as disparate thoughts, ideas and activity. In this way a network of interconnections forms – an amassing of middles amidst an array of multidirectional movement among open systems. Generating this nomad~rhizome assemblage, ‘open and connectable in all of its dimensions’ (p. 12), disturbs the arborescently informed, linear progression of modernist thought and action that is always retraced through the same series of points of structuration – it ‘always comes back “to the same”’ (p. 12). Tracing (thinking) pathways arborescently, from trunk through branches and leaves, requires coming and going along the same tracks, with a fixed beginning (base of trunk) and ending (tips of leaves). While a tree trunk and branches may expand in length and girth, new pathways are formed only at the tips, and returning along pathways can only occur by re-tracing the route already travelled (Figure 18).

Figure 18: Arborescent tracing. (Author photo)

Figure 19: Burrow~rhizome produced by crustaceans in the Middle Jurassic period. (Source: http://en.wikipedia. org /wiki/File:ThalassinoidesIsrael.JPG

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In a burrow – a rhizome (Figure 19) – there are infinite combinations of negotiable pathways through and back again; there is a multiplicity of entryways, which double as exits, with many pathways intersecting with ongoing possibilities for new pathways irrupting among and beyond those that already exist, de/re/territorialising liminal spaces between. (Re)turning to negotiate pathways as nomad~rhizome can happen in infinite ways.

mapping rhizo-methodology Flowing through this nomad~rhizome involves passaging ‘towards’ never-ending peripheries and in this nomadic~rhizo flow, mapping rhizo-methodology becomes an activity of continual con/di/vergence, of processing around and about, linking, interconnecting through thinking and doing ‘and...and... and...’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 25). As I worked to generate a rhizomatic mapping of the children at play – in the Children performing curriculum complexly plateau – it became apparent that, as well as rhizomatic methodology informing the data, the children of the data were showing how rhizomatic methodology works. I saw a flow of rhizo~nomad, as assemblage of game~setting~players. In generating the data with the children, I flow freely through the setting, following lines of flight in a video-ed assemblage of their play(ing). Lines of flight appear within the strong girls game, made visible through a multiplicity of video camera operators as various children take the camera – Chloe, Abi, Lisa, Libby, Lee, Eve and me. Although this contributes to ruptures of/in the flow, these irruptions enrich the data as moments are captured through many eyes. In this moment it becomes readily visible that the children and I ‘were no longer ourselves,’ and it was no longer important who was ‘I’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 3). Later, in bringing Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries to the rhizoanalysis to foreground the children’s representations of curricular performance, I become aware of their tacitly playing out various imaginaries – rhizomatically mapping their nomadic flow – flowing as nomad rhizomatically negotiating smooth spaces. A de-territorialising mo(ve)ment then happens – their rhizomatic performance now informing the methodology, illuminating both rhizomatic methodology and rhizoanalysis at work. As the methodology informs the data generating, the data now inform the (rhizo)analysis; what the children are doing in the data shows how to use the methodology in the rhizoanalysis. Following their performance foregrounds their embodiment of thinking~playing. As in a mobius strip (Figure 20), such de-territorialising mo(ve)ments are on the same plane, the mo(ve)ments continuously (e)merging.

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Figure 20: De~territorialisation always already at on(c)e on the same plateau~plane

rhizo-mapping the children’s play(ing)44 Video snippets of the strong girls game, played out by Libby, Lee and Alice, are captured over two days as they negotiate smooth spaces of the game, their play(ing), their imaginations and the setting. Smooth spaces enable unstructured, non-striated opportunities for the children to work and play, uninterrupted and unhurried, flowing through space-times of setting and programme. Smooth spaces of the play(ing) of the game(s) is illuminated in the performing of (e)merging storyline(s) – in contrast to a (pre)scribed scripted performance. The strong girls’ intention of ‘saving the world outside’ is like a de~territorialising mo(ve)ment as in the game of Go. Deleuze & Guattari use the game of Go to explain smooth spaces of nomadic de~territorialising in contrast to the occupation of the ordered, striated spaces of chess: in chess, it is a question of arranging a closed space for oneself, thus of going from one point to another, of occupying the maximum number of squares with the minimum number of pieces. In Go, it is a question of arraying oneself in a open space, of holding space, of maintaining the possibility of springing up at any point: the movement is not from one point to another, but becomes perpetual, without aim or destination, without departure or arrival. The “smooth” space of Go, as against the “striated” space of chess…The difference is that chess codes and decodes space, whereas Go proceeds altogether differently, territorializing or deterritorializing it… (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 353, italics added) In Go, the outside space is territorialised from within, by territorialising a bordering space. Rather than capturing the space and eliminating occupiers, as chess does, the Go player encircles the territory and both spaces merge. In a simultaneity of de~territorialising, the space is immediately de~territorialised by this sha(tte)ring of ownership of the territory, by renouncing oneself by going

44

See also (Honan & Sellers, M., 2006) and Sellers, M., & Honan (2007) for a (different) rhizoanalysis that illuminates the children’s expressions of power-fullness within the data snippet used here.

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elsewhere to further territorialise adjacent territory. And so the flow continues, creating a ‘milieu of exteriority’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 353), avoiding battles, battle lines and battles over power; it is about mobility not occupation. As the strong girls negotiate the physical territory (indoors and the playground outside) and the (imaginative) territory of their game, they follow lines of flight conversationally and lines of flight within their game. They explore folds and surfaces (physical and imaginative) that they happen upon, they slip in and out of discursive spaces of relationships and the game. Similarly, other children and I flow with the video camera and I flow through the video-ed snippets uncovering resonances between the children’s play(ing) and rhizo-methodology.

the strong girls as nomad~rhizome Libby, Lee and Alice flow as nomad~rhizome through smooth spaces, de~territorialising spaces of their game. There is ‘a flow of children; a flow of walking with pauses, straggling and forward rushes… a collective assemblage…one inside the other…plugged into an immense outside that is a multiplicity’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 23). Within this multiplicity, involving forty other children, several adults, the physical surroundings, artefacts and the uninterrupted space of the programme, the children ‘space themselves out and disperse…jostle together and coexist…begin to dance’ (pp. 23-24) as the game continues to emerge. There is continuous ebbing and flowing of ideas and energy, as the tracing of their pre-conceived game is continually plugged into the (e)merging strong girls map for saving the world outside, itself (e)merging from/with/in a game of Mums and Dads. Libby, Lee and Alice invite Chloe to join their game. Libby: Alice wants to be the little sister. Lee wants to be the big sister and I wanna be the Mum, and you wanna be the baby? ’Cos we’re playing Mums and Dads. Chloe listens but says nothing so they abandon that line of flight and take another, running outside to play the game without her. They skip across the playground, making their way over and through various pieces of climbing equipment and into a large custom-wood cube. Libby: Hey, this here is our place in here. Lee, climbing into an adjoining cube: No. No. I know…this could be the house and that could be our bedroom. Alice follows Lee and they climb through to join Libby, choosing to go with her line of flight in regard to which cube is to be their home. They sit on the ledges inside and discuss where to sleep and the kinds of snoring noises they can make. 220


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They have started up the territory for the Mums and Dads game, but they are distracted by the world outside the game – the video camera and me. They tell me about their characters and confirm amongst themselves that it’s a Mums and Dads people game, not Mums and Dads butterflies. While my presence interrupted the flow of their game, the rupture generates an opportunity to confirm the storyline and the characters they each play. Interiority (inside elements of their game) merges with exteriority (with the outside), and continues. Another i(nte)rruption occurs as Lee reaches to brush some bark chips off Libby’s tights and they discuss their clothing and their status in the world. . Libby: …hey it looks like looks like we’re pretty girls. Lee: Yeah we’re pretty…I’m the prettiest girl in the world. Lee’s claim of being the prettiest girl in the world is uncontested; as ‘pretty girls’ they play together. The imaginary game is merging with actual artefacts and happenings, these being incorporated into their imaginary world as their game emerges. Flowing as nomad~rhizome, they are negotiating their actual and imagined worlds all-at-once; actual and imagined operate as one in this smooth space, continuously. Libby decides it is now morning and the others agree as they wander around outside their home and their game. Suddenly, another de~territorialising line of flight starts up. Libby runs up to the others and proclaims: We better be strong girls! Lee says: No! Alice says nothing. Libby shouts: We can be strong girls now…and…WE…CAN…DO…IT! (punching her arms in the air)…We have to have maps to see where to go. Following Libby’s line of flight, despite Lee’s objection and Alice’s silence, they run inside to the drawing table to make maps. Flowing as nomad~rhizome they have negotiated disparate ideas and activity – with the Mums and Dads game, thinking about butterflies, interacting with the video camera and me, discussing their clothing and what it means to be pretty, then segueing from Mums and Dads to strong girls. They have continually de~territorialised spaces of their game.

mapping nomad~rhizome flow Their use of mapping is intriguing as it demonstrates a tacit understanding of rhizome. (E)merging throughout their game is continuous moving through virtual~possible, actualising~realising (Deleuze, 1993) mapped spaces, through the map of the imaginary game; through deciding they needed to create a real map; through mapping the next part of their game; through consulting their 221


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drawn maps. They flow rhizomatically through (a) Deleuzian milieu(s)45, negotiating virtual and possible spaces of the game and of the world outside. Mapping becomes a way of affirming the characters they each play and exploring their relationships with each other, of confirming the mo(ve)ments of the emerging storyline of their game, of working out which part of the playground they will flow into next, of exploring their understandings of the physical and social context(s) they are playing with/in and how this relates to the outside world46. Libby leads the map-making: Now we can draw a map…Ok! Now! She draws a stick figure in the centre bottom of her page, and Lee replicates Libby’s figure. Alice watches but draws a more detailed figure that takes up most of her page, positioned as portrait whereas Libby and Lee’s is landscape.

Although Lee objects occasionally to Libby’s decision-making, she flows with Libby, following Libby’s lines of flight with few deviations. Alice quietly flows with the others, but more openly incorporates her preferences for her map. The orientation of her paper suggests she is less intent on doing things exactly as Libby dictates, and her person – with round body, detailed facial expression and hair – is considerably different from Libby and Lee’s stick figures. Alice is flowing as nomad~rhizome within nomad~rhizome, following Libby’s lead and following her own desire for the game as all three girls are embodied in processes of mapping their understandings of how the game should process.

45

Deleuze and Guattari use milieu as “surroundings,” “medium,” (as in chemistry), and “middle” (Massumi, 1987, p. xvii) See discussion of milieu (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) in the Reconceiving curriculum plateau. 46 The pictures in this plateau were developed for a conference presentation, where there was a need to obscure the children’s identity. I have retained these here for the way they resonate with mapping and focus attention on the rhizomatic activity of the children.

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Libby draws a line, leading from her person, a line that wiggles and zigzags and loosely follows the edge of her page. As she draws, she explains: You need to do […] in here so we know where to go…we go through the prickly grass…by the tree. She joins another line to the first, indicating the prickly grass with zigzags along the top of her page and the tree by a thinner zigzag in the top right corner. The line then loops back onto the initial line around the page. Lee draws a line surrounding her person, a pathway with less detail and without explanation.

Alice continues with her own understanding of the interiority of the map. Her figure is large with her pathway pictures as a series of disjointed squiggles.

Libby

Lee

Alice

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We are now presented with three mappings of one game; three understandings of how they each envisage the game will proceed. Their maps indicate the pathway they intend to negotiate as strong girls. Libby talks about her pathway as she draws it, communicating her ideas for the game, ideas that unfold in the drawing. She creates a pathway with no beginning or ending, suggesting they will process through a middle~milieu. Lee’s simpler pathway is similarly positioned on her paper while Alice’s is different. Alice’s map is dominated by the figure, surrounded by several unconnected wiggles. That her pathway is disjointed is of no concern to any of them. Just as this game does not begin as being one about strong girls – the strong girl theme starts up in the Mums and Dads game – it appears there is no explicitly planned endpoint either. What seems important is the indication of various spaces that they will flow through – de~territorialising spaces, lines of flight to be followed. But, another line of flight emerges. They move from the smooth space of their game to the striated space of literacy and numeracy. They each write their name on the back of their maps, then spend several minutes conversing about the similarities and differences in the spelling. They fold their maps and because of the different paper orientations, Libby and Lee make a lengthwise fold while Alice folds hers crosswise. Lee notices the difference and points this out: She did a long one. Libby responds: That’s OK. She’s fine…C’mon, let’s go…to save the world outside. In this moment, the discursive understandings of curriculum, in conventional terms, become visible as they share their understandings about reading and writing. This also involves not only affirmation of each other’s abilities to form the various letters but also affirmation of each other as people, foregrounding their social learning experiences of curriculum. Some maths learning appears also as Lee notices the different shapes created by the different folds. While they enjoy the interchange about their literacy and maths skills and knowledge, Libby is mindful of ensuring all are included as successful performers of their understandings – she is working to affirm each of them as individuals within the rhizomatics of making their game work. Once outside Libby pauses, pointing to her map: Start there and y’ go all the way round…We need to go to the playground…it said playground.

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They twist and weave through the playground, pausing to play on various pieces of equipment, to interact with other children and with me, to seat themselves on a large log.

Libby does the map-reading: Our map says to go to um to go to…(and later) Treasure…the treasure is here…see the little x here (and later still) Hey…hey, wanna go to the pool? If you want to go to the pool, that’s OK. They continue on their way, negotiating the outdoors equipment – over, under, through, across, balancing, jumping…

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And so they continue mapping their play(ing), flowing through the middle space of their game, a flow of walking~running~skipping~jumping, pausing~rushing, together an assemblage, with/in a multiplicity. As they dance through their game, playing out their understandings of themselves as children with/in childhoods and/wit/in curricular experiences, flowing together as ‘one’ – each as singularities and together as several.

children performing nomad~rhizome The children perform as nomad~rhizome in their play(ing), uninterrupted and unhurried by a more formalised curriculum that dictates specific times and places for adult-identified teaching of things to be learned. They flow through spaces of the setting, the programme, with/in relationships they encounter, through the territory of the physical environment and their un/conscious imaginary territories, following lines of flight conversationally with each other and lines of flight within their strong girl game, de~territorialising folds and surfaces (physical and imaginative) as happened upon, slipping in and out of discursive spaces. They play Mums and Dads, outside in the large boxes; they flow inside to the drawing table to make maps as their game segues into strong girls, then outside again to follow the pathways of their maps. They track through the outdoor equipment, pausing to hang from the bars, to re(read) their maps – an ‘x’ is identified as treasure and a 226


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previously unmarked swimming pool appears. Through their informal, improvised, enacted storying of games, they open out their imaginary worlds. As Mums and Dads they discuss their home, their clothing and their gendered understandings; and, the strong girls theme emerges with a mission to save the world outside. They generate and claim their learning spaces through making maps and then work with them to map their play. When perceived as nomad~rhizome players, these children generate different images from the rational human beings developmentalism dictates. In modernistic terms, Libby, Lee and Alice might be perceived as skimming the surface of ‘real’ learning, such as their unattended (by supposedly allknowing adults) foray into literacy learning. They might be perceived as sorting themselves into a social order that demands a certain kind of leadership, namely one person in charge all of the time. However, a generative rhizomatic reading illuminates them as differently sensible and sense-able (reasonable) as they unconsciously, without conscious decision (randomly) negotiate various curricular territories and/with/through (e)merging lines of flight. Throughout the rhizomatic performance of their game, they de~territorialise smooth spaces and de~territorialise their singular and collective desire to play the game, ameliorating any un/intentional attempted individual control. Despite Libby working to enable all to be included, such as acknowledging that Alice’s folding was OK, there are moments when Lee could have walked away from the game – when her objections were ignored by Libby. But, as well, Lee does not persist with her objections and Alice quietly plays out her resistance to totally conforming. Together they flow through the physical and imaginary territories of their game, pausing, rushing, straggling, dispersing, jostling, co-existing, dancing… There is nothing static or fixed about the children, the game, the geographical or discursive territories to be negotiated, the way they communicate (verbally through language and visually through their maps) and the space-time of the game. The game neither begins nor ends. The strong girls game and generative mapping emerges from within a middle~milieu~plateau of their play (Mums and Dads) and eventually merges with yet another plateau, as their play(ing) continues on ‘past’ the end of this data snippet. In the middle of the plateau, along the way, the game and the children follow other lines of flight. They decide that they need a map and in the process of drawing it, they intensify the map of the game. They follow lines of flight pictured on their drawn maps and move through middles of mappings not pictured. Through their map-making, the children express their desires for playing the game and mark the territory to be negotiated. In drawing the continuously (e)merging maps, they follow and map lines of flight in their thinking, making personal connections with/in the territory they would negotiate and with each other’s maps and 227


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ideas expressed through/with/in them. As they flow through their mapping, they pause literally (to rest on the log and to swing from the bars) and figuratively on plateaus to contemplate processes of, and the procession of their learning.

playing rhizo-methodology Following St. Pierre (2001), I am ‘not much interested in any search for originary and correct meanings’ (p. 150) of their play(ing), but I am interested in the multiplicity that their game both becomes and operates within, as I similarly negotiate rhizomatic(ally) the territories of their games. This involves bringing together seemingly disparate discourses – Deleuzo-Guattarian philosophy and children’s map-making. It involves following lines of flight (theirs in playing; mine in research methodology), as mapped on paper, imaginarily mapped and played out similar to their maps but also differently through their continuous imaginings. This is akin to my researching Deleuzian philosophy and researching the methodology, continuing the inquiry in writing the methodology and rhizoanalysis, in which everything is always already becoming something else. Interactions among discursive systems within texts and discourses themselves do not operate as straight lines through a text. They (e)merge (im)plausibly, connect and cross over and Libby, Lee and Alice illuminate generative~rhizomatic spaces of rhizo-methodology through the play(ing) of their game. As the storyline of the game is always already narrated and (e)merging, so Deleuzo-Guattarian figurations inform the research. In narrating and projecting the storyline, the children are putting the tracing back on the map; tracings of conventional theories of children, childhood and curriculum are constantly imposed on the map, such as on mappings of rhizo-methodology. Immersed in the (e)merging complexity, through their map-making and their enacted mapping, they (simply) show pathways and spaces that are/will be negotiated in the course of their game. Similarly, I follow lines of flight, flowing with tacit understandings of something that might go somewhere, such as juxtaposing text, images, transcriptions and commentaries within the rhizoanalysis throughout various plateaus of the thesis-assemblage. The children describe characters as they emerge, calling them into being, simultaneously talking them(selves) into becoming, announcing their strong girl status to the world and supporting each other while claiming singular desiring-spaces for the game. In a similar way, my becoming-researcher emerges through interacting with (writers of) the literature and participant-children when generating data. As I map a way through the snippet of data of children playing rhizomatically, the mapping illuminates moments of convergence, when connections allow reasonable readings of contradictory and conflicting discourses. On the surface, the prospect of linking in any meaningful way children’s map(pings) or play(ing) with philosophical understandings of research methodology seems 228


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unlikely. However, what becomes apparent in the videos and in the transcriptions, is that young children unaware of Deleuzian figurations or rhizomatic methodologies enact complex understandings of these. The intensity of this complexity is unexpected when put alongside takenfor-granted versions of possible childhood understandings outlined in many curriculum texts. As Deleuze (1997) says: ‘Children never stop talking about what they are doing or trying to do: exploring milieus by means of dynamic trajectories and drawing up maps of them’ (p. 61). So why am I surprised about their tacit understandings of nomad~rhizome? Throughout the methodology of the thesis-assemblage, I continue in a similar way: inquiring about the inquiry about inquiring about the inquiry and inquiring…

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Aftrwrdng Before beginning this thesis-assemblage I imagined having an epiphany somewhere before the end. I imagined having significant things to say about my perceptions of young children’s understandings of curriculum. But when that seemed not to happen I thought there was nothing to write about in the mo(ve)ment of this Aftrwrdng…until I realised that thought was yet another of the pervading modernist expectations that have lingered along the way. That thought appeared to trip me again, despite my knowing that having specific conclusions to propose at the end was not embodied in my understandings of rhizo inquiry. What matters in rhizo inquiry is what (e)merges from/with/in the rhizome of this thesis-assemblage, the illuminations, sometimes mere glimpses of what is happening in the shadows – like momentarily dappled pools of light shifting with the sun, wind blowing shifting shadows, light fading in and out, coming and going. Thoughts, ideas, thinking that can only be captured or seized upon momentarily because everything is always already becoming. The notion of ‘seizing’ characterises what this thesis-assemblage is mostly not: to seize is to take hold of an object firmly, to take advantage of something, to take official possession of something, to take somebody into custody, to become jammed as a result of pressure, to become painfully stiff or immobile, to come to a sudden and permanent halt, to endow with ownership, to tie or secure (Encarta World English Dictionary). However seize also has another more fitting meaning: to understand an idea or concept especially quickly. The notion of speed of momentarily seizing or glimpsing is embodied in the thesis-assemblage, at times overwhelmingly. Every part and process of the thesis-assemblage resists being pinned or tied down, curriculum as (a) milieu(s) of becoming. Re(con)ceiving children in curriculum is a poststructuralist deconstructing project, exploring various dimensions of concepts and thought to seek out that which may be in the shadows. In early childhood curriculum, developmental psychology informed perspectives of children and childhood have dominated the past century. Although Te Whāriki sought to break from these in the mid 1990s, the sociocultural ideals it aspires to continue to scaffold – a structuralist endeavour – children into rationalised, mature adulthood in co-constructivist ways and the what and how of curriculum pervades. Curriculum as a learning~living (ad)venture remains largely in the shadows in early childhood curriculum, thirty years on from the emergence of the reconceptualist conversation. However, this is not to despair, rather to say that (re)conceiving curriculum is an ongoing endeavour. Before reiterating my thinking around that which is emerging from the (hidden) 230


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shadows of reconceiving early childhood curriculum, I ask: What of receiving children in curriculum? Receiving children in curriculum involves different ways of thinking about children. It involves thinking of children living~working~learning with adults, all as human beings, some just younger or older than others. Disadvantaging children on the grounds of their younger age begs questions around the more homogenous concept of adulthood. Young adults and the elderly may be regarded with some disdain in certain circumstances, but by and large there are no categorisations within adulthood in the modernist mature, rational adult discourses of everyday life. Or, at least, discernible degrees in the fifty years or so of the dominating middle mass of adulthood are masked by non-ageist agendas. Bringing children (and young adults and elderly people) and their understandings into this middle should not be difficult. If there are no (explicit) boundaries in the middle mass of adulthood, why have limits at either end? Young children continually display their capacity in regard to their understanding of learning~living. Marcy’s ‘disruptive behaviour’ was a glimpse into what she understood she needed of curriculum. Even in developmental terms, supporting her desire to do a puzzle was arguably more significant for her in that moment than sitting at a table listening to a story while waiting for morning tea to be served; and, sociologically, the ideals of agentic subjectivity uphold her right to be in charge of her own learning and to set her own curricular agenda. But as this thesis-assemblage proffers, Marcy’s activity and action as becoming-child and as some of the plurality of becoming-children demonstrates that she knew what she wanted to know, how to go about doing it and why it was important. In that moment, at least, finishing the puzzle was important to her ongoing living~learning as becoming-child(ren). Through expressions of her own subjectivity, she was endeavouring to alter and change in a doubled becoming of the one (singularity) with the (collective) one, in a de~territorialising line of flight of becoming-puzzler. Considering children as responsible and response-able thinkers~learners with sophisticated understandings respects them as young people within (a) milieu(s) of their curricular performativity. What is curriculum then for becoming-child(ren)? Curriculum as (a) milieu(s) of becoming, becomes a space for becoming-child(ren) to negotiate their becomings, in flows of becomingpower-full becoming-intense becoming-imperceptible – response-ably demonstrated by the severalty of children in the intersecting games in the Children performing curriculum complexly plateau. Curriculum as (a) milieu(s) of becoming also becomes a space where(by) the adult|child binary is dissolved into a child~adult co-existence in a curricular performance of doing~learning~living. At the beginning, I wrote a Letter to Marcy, noting that the thesis231


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assemblage gathered together here was but a postscript. A thesis-assemblage later, I write again at the end of this Aftrwrdng, in a co-existence of doing~living~learning. Writing an Aftrwrdng free of constraints of linearly informed decisions or conclusions is challenging. It is difficult to ‘produce’ something that ‘makes sense’ while saying something different in regard to curricular ideas. At the end of the Children performing curriculum complexly plateau I outlined some relatively simple ideas that I perceived the children to be communicating through their curricular performance in the games they played. I wrote that children thrive within the complexity of their spontaneous play(ing) and linear processes are not necessary to the productive play(ing) of generative learning~living experiences, and that they are adept at responding to opportunities that present as…and…and…and…, with linear processes obstructing generativity. I (rhizo?)analysed gendered performance of the embodied victim~strong girls and suggested that their expressions of power-fullness opened (to) a generative line of flight, which de~territorialised the game, their subjectivities and adult understandings of (non-)gendered activity. I worked with the notion that the children’s leadership subject positionings are similarly fluid. Yet these comments still ooze modernist thought, as I offer interpretations of behaviour that I have chosen to classify. There is a sense that to think outside behaviourist analyses, I have to become more practised at opening (to) other generative spaces of becoming, not only spaces of becomingchild(ren), but also to spaces of my becoming-adult(s) becoming-researcher becomingreader~writer~thinker. It is not about arriving at (new) thoughts, but about learning to process thought and thinking in other ways otherwise, about learning to think differently. With practice, thoughts outside my current repertoire may then emerge from the shadows as I think…and…and… and… Something I have noticed in my thinking~reading~writing of this thesis-assemblage is my propensity for always introducing different ideas by starting with how things are not or with what something should not or cannot be if we are to change our thinking around children and childhood and about their curriculum-ing. What if I had started with thinking curriculum-ing as children doing learning, as doing~learning~living? Perhaps I had not thought enough about curriculum before beginning in that I spend so much time tracing through layers of traditional thought in the literature. My tentativeness in suggesting how other ways of thinking might work also suggests (my) capitulation to modernist imbued thought within academe, founded in rationale and justification. Yet, looking for what might be in the shadows becomes some of a way into rhizome and becomes rhizome.

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So I remind myself of what did I draw from the rhizomatic shadows within each of the plateaus: o In Preceding echoes, before introducing Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries, I acknowledge Marcy for her inspiration and for every child that she is, rather than represents. I unveil my subjectivity and offer some guiding thoughts for reading this thesis-assemblage otherwise in other ways as a way of breaking with a linearly constructed thesis and as an attempt to relax the reader into opening to generatively intra/inter/personal connections. o Reconceiving curriculum opens (to) possibilities for conceiving curriculum as (a) milieu(s) of performativity. In (re)thinking the traditional what and how of curriculum, children’s curricular performativity appears more as curriculum-ing than curriculum, and this is illuminated in the data snippets of the rhizoanalysis of Children performing curriculum complexly. This is an attempt to dispense with developmental analyses. o Rhizo~mapping continues with mapping (a) milieu(s) of curricular performativity by working, somewhat recursively, with mapping to foreground more of the rhizome of children and curriculum. Data used show children mapping their play and playing out their maps in a curricular performance of map(ping) play(ing). In this, I enact trust in children knowing how to enact the what of their learning. o A journey through historical discourses of Children and childhood, which both accede to and challenge the adult|child binary, discusses affects of modernist images and poststructuralist subject positionings in regard to children as young human beings. From/with/in more recent understandings of subjectivity, the Deleuzo-Guattarian rhizomatic imaginary of becoming (e)merges and the notion of becoming-child(ren) de~territorialises lingering historical perspectives. o From within the Play(ing) plateau a poietically play-full way of connecting various theorising about play with actualities of children’s playing emerges in methodological expressions that juxtapose the literature…and…children’s play…and… their curricular performativity as seen in transcriptions of a game in the family corner. Although the rhizomethodology and rhizoanalysis of the research weaves through all plateaus in various ways, the Play(ing) plateau exemplifies a play-full academic performance, which conceptually commingles with data of children’s curricular performativity. o Methodological and ethical issues of Rhizomatically researching with young children are discussed in understandings of acting responsibly, responsively and response-ably within research relationships with participant-children. Working reflexively in the doing~writing~ thinking of the research is embodied within explications of how this research was enacted.

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o Power relations imbued in the child-participant and adult-researcher partnership are confronted through the data and this opens (to) the notion of Becoming-child(ren) becoming power-full in curriculum – as Tim demonstrates simplicity and sophistication. Respecting his expressions of power-fullness as de~territorialising lines of flight disturbs the propensity for behaviourist analyses in early childhood education. o In the Rhizoanalysis plateau I reflect on various approaches to analysis that emerged in the writing and presenting of data through some of the plateaus, in expressions of storyboards, intertextual juxtapositions and mappings. Although I resist presenting any particular plateau as central, it transpires that the becomings of the milieu of the thesis-assemblage pass through the rhizoanalysis. This plateau embodies the workings of rhizome, in itself and with the others responding to the question: How does it work? o Children playing rhizo-methodology uses data to show a recursive relationship among the imaginaries of nomad~rhizome informing the research – from design to the writing of the thesis-assemblage – and the children of the data playing out the research methodology as they operate as nomad~rhizome. The thesis-assemblage becomes a reflection of the methodological nomad~rhizome. Rhizo-methodology of the research becomes one with the writing~reading~thinking of the thesis-assemblage, around children, childhood and curriculum. Children playing rhizo-methodology also works to foreground children’s tacit knowledge of the dynamics of rhizo research…and…how rhizome works in the curricular performativity of their learning…and…how children put rhizome to work. From/with/in the shadows, it appears that some different ideas for re(con)ceiving children in curriculum have (e)merged, but my reflection now is that it is more about thinking differently than producing different thoughts. Although that in itself is a (different) thought, through thinking differently it opens (to) possibilities, both scholarly and in practical understandings. The journey for me has been about rhizomatically thinking around rhizo ideas that I have presented rhizomatically – rhizo mapping rhizo inquiry, rhizo methodology, rhizoanalysis – with the ideas being but a plateau of/for de~territorialising thinking~performance. Which (re)turns me to say that what matters in this Aftrwrdng is not the thoughts or ideas I have proffered along the way, but the kind(s) of thinking I have negotiated and the kind(s) of thinking these ideas inspire, particularly as they affect young children…and…their childhood(s)… and…their curriculum performativity…and...adult perceptions of these…and…as the incompleteness of the txt-ese of Aftrwrdng suggests there is always already more happening with/in the shadows. In conclusion these shadows of thoughts from/with/in my shadowed thinking address Marcy outside the now defunct, at least in this thesis-assemblage, adult|child binary. Having mapped some of (a) milieu(s) of becoming of/through/with/in this thesis234


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assemblage, recursively and with reflexivity, I (re)turn to the (initial) foreshadowing in another letter to Marcy. As before, the language is mine, but my thinking is that the sentiments resonate with young children’s tacit knowledge of doing~learning~living. Dear Marcy, If I’d known how hard it was going to be, I may not have started out on this PhD journey. In some moments, with modernist thoughts and beliefs pervading my poststructuralist ways of operating, it felt that it was hardly worth it, but I stayed with the idea that this is my legacy for my grandchildren and the future, trusting that what I have written may become something useful for you, you as young children in Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood educational settings, now and further on. Doing learning for you is also hard from/with/in limited and limiting modernist thought and discourses fraught with classifications and categories, sequential ordering of developmental skills and ways of achieving these. It is demanding and tiring, sapping energy of children and adults as conformity imposes. Collapsing the binarial walls of this modernist prison of thought, concerned with control and confinement of children in particular, opens (to) possibilities for spaces of coexistence in/through/which becoming-child(ren)~becoming-adult commingle, freely mobile, singularly and as a severalty. In such de~territorialising spaces children’s expressions of dissatisfaction about curricular performance – as when you, Marcy, declared by your actions that sitting at a table to listen to a story was not a priority in that moment – would not mean that neither you nor your behaviour would be labelled disruptive but that you had responsible and responseable agendas to be respected. Without a hierarchy of being, adults have no reason to interpret actions such as yours as being against them, their ideals and their aspirations for you. Rather, in these de~territorialising spaces your activity flows as expressions of your becoming-child(ren), expressions of your aspirations for ongoing becomings of your subjectivity. As educationists – practitioners, researchers, scholars – we must learn to think in such ways, learning to think through/with/in opening (to) possibilities, learning to think differently. In early childhood education this becomes possible and accessible (simply) by flowing with, or following de~territorialising flows of children in the complexity of their play(ing), so that children are no longer dependent on adults for curriculum and (supposedly) for their learning. Rather, children are understood as teachers, researchers and curricularists engaged in recursive and responsible inter-relationships, always already becoming-child(ren) with the always already becoming-adults of the worlds around them. Forgive my reminiscing for a moment, Marcy… Historically, early childhood has ‘progressed’ through adult-centred teaching, child-centred learning into current trends of co-constructed child-adult shared learning experiences. The aspirations of co-construction reflect reciprocity but the inherent pedagogy distances children from adult worlds,

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just as early childhood education is often distanced from family/whānau/community, operating within sites of consumption, remediation and preparation for school.47 But, generating other (maybe westernised, but maybe not) ways of thinking (about) curriculum towards curriculum-ing as a processing of learning~teaching (re)turns me to Deleuzo-Guattarian becoming, in which there is a co-existence of becoming-child(ren) with/in a dynamically changing processing that intensifies expressions of monad~nomad singularity~subjectivity. From/with/in my understanding, this way of conceiving children and their childhood(s) resonates with your curricular performativity of doing~learning~living, Marcy, and with that of the children’s play(ing) throughout the data. In an odd sort of way, I think perhaps theorising about the pedagogy of play has become a serious endeavour that would now benefit from a more play-full approach. Play is seriously children’s doing~learning~living and is elusive and indefinable in its complexity. As I flowed with various children’s play(ing) in the processes of videoing, transcribing and then engaging with a rhizoanalysis of the play(ing) of the data, everything became inextricably entwined, yet, in not resisting but continuing with the flow, the complexity was illuminated in a becoming of (im)perceptibility. So, again I eschew facts as to how practitioners can engage with this way of working to understand children, their childhood(s) and curriculum through their play(ing) and suggest that it is in the processing with the children that things come into the light, that it involves be(com)ing with children differently. Through his play(ing) Tim foregrounds the significance of his expressions of becoming-child(ren) to his doing~learning~living and to (my) adult (mis)interpretations of what that means for him, other children nearby and adults in surrounding worlds – not only researchers and teachers, but adults in Tim’s wider world. Learning to think of children engaging with flows of power-fullness and respecting their expressions of these requires letting go of the adult|child binary and the safety that this has unfairly afforded adults through many eras. It also requires stepping aside from the familiarity of a developmental/behaviourist analysis. To let go and step aside may be scary and seem unwise to some, but in doing so, we open (ourselves) (to) possibilities for (re)conceiving children and childhood(s) and for receiving children’s understandings towards generating incipiently different ways of doing thinking of curriculum. As for the rhizo of the inquiry, methodology and analysis of research, I do not doubt that there are as many ways of doing this as there are nano-seconds spent in any research context, from design to dissemination and further. That there are infinite possibilities for using rhizome in research does not make it easy as is apparent in various plateaus here. As I discovered throughout, particularly in the writing, there are modernist constraints and containments that pervade and sometimes these are hard to dispense with. Often it took someone else to attract my attention to these – Tim and my supervisors, for example – but in other times it seemed the only way through was to move to or

47

Woodrow and Press (2007).

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generate other passages for negotiation as ways of leaving the limit(ation)s. This was to actively~passively resist by continuing processing with my doing~learning~living otherwise in other ways, everything always already becoming – the thesis-assemblage and all it illuminates, and me. So, Marcy, it is time to say farewell. It’s not that this curricular conversation of my thinking is over, as I will forever be talking with you as young children about curricular performativity in (a) milieu(s) of becoming. It is merely to pause in the intermezzo…with/in in-between liminal spaces of interstiality, de~territorialising lines of flight, e/ir/dis/inter/ruptions of rhizo inquiry…and…and… and… Me he manu motu i te mahanga As the bird escapes the snare, for you Marcy, I joy-fully escape the limitations of modernist, linear, arborescent thought to fly free in my play-full thinking of re(con)ceiving children and curriculum differently. Respect-fully, and in celebration of our curricular play(ing) Your friend

P.S. The next moment is (y)ours…48

48

With thanks to Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery and Taubman (1995, p. 868) and Daignault (1992, cited in Pinar et al., 1995, p. 847).

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Appendices

Appendices Appendix i: Children’s consent booklet

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Appendices

262


Appendices

Appendix ii: Poem embodied (un)consciousness doing~learning~living learning embodied with(in) doing and living with(in) rhizomatic intensities of wobbly jelly plateaus of flavours textures colours sounds happenings intermingling thoughts words ideas no-words forewords afterw.rds enactively linking learning~living In the modernist, analytical sandwich, learning is a nounal structure. Assured, secured |learning| is valorised. |Learning| = |information| = |knowledge|. |Experiences| are |learning| |for life|, |life-long|. Boxed | marked | separated | states of being |. Demarcation: commas, colons, fullstops, periods. Taxonomies – categorising, bounding, constraining, limiting. Restraining | doing | learning | living | replete with glottal stops.

nomad’s mess with method

nomads mess with method

rhizomatically messing around …thinking of Other/other ways/wise (of) thinking of… thinking about how to think

writing about how to write differently

(e)merging thinking (un)consciously embodied embodying (un)consciousness doing~living~learning~living~doing~ with(in) the writing of a rhizo(-analytical) assemblage with(in) thinking about young children learning 263

Re(con)ceiving children in curriculum - Mapping (a) milieu(s) of becoming  

Tradition and convention dichotomises children and curriculum and this is challenged by re(con)ceiving children in curriculum. My study gene...

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