Thinking about 'Identity' in the Early Years Learning Framework
AuthorSIMPSON-DAL SANTO, REBECCA
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2014 Rebecca Simpson-Dal Santo
Australia’s curriculum for early childhood services caring and educating for people aged 0-5 years, the Early Years Learning Framework, has introduced ‘Identity’ as a Learning Outcome. This thesis explores how teachers are documenting children’s identities, as required by federal assessment bodies. The EYLF publications available suggest that ‘identity’ can be documented as a static, singular and objective truth. Four early childhood teachers were recruited to participate in this qualitative research. The data was obtained through semi-structured interviews about the challenges and tensions of being accountable for documenting children’s identities. I also kept a research journal describing my own struggles of documenting children’s identities within my teaching while problematising this idea through research. The conceptual framework used Deleuzian and Derridean ideas to destabilise the supposed knowable and singular ‘identity’ of children, providing the space to question why documentation of children’s identities is positioned as an objective truth. The data showed significant ‘ontological insecurity’ about being accountable for documenting children’s identities. The use of rhizoanalysis exposed how the dominant discourses of children’s singular and static identities re-mapped particular truths through the EYLF and EYLF-branded documents, professional development, social media and media publications. The use of multiple theories- poststructuralist, feminist poststructuralist, critical whiteness, anarchist, postanarchist and queer- created ruptures within the dominant developmental discourses that shaped the data. Using Butler’s (1999) idea of performativity allowed for children’s gender and cultural identities to be seen as multiple, partial and performed. This also exposed how children’s identities are shaped through the power and desirability of being understood in particular ways. The thesis contributes the beginning of a conceptual framework for thinking about how performativity, rhizoanalysis and the ‘Ethics of an Encounter’ can be used to document children’s multiple, partial and shifting identities in ethical and equitable ways.
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