Debi Keyte-Hartland is an international arts educator and early years pedagogical consultant who has worked in education, health, social and cultural fields for 20+ years developing creative and transdisciplinary approaches to learning and inquiry in early learning settings. Debi shares:
“I speak, write and share my work alongside the educators with whom I work to raise the profile and illuminate what is possible in early childhood education …to engage and ignite the curiosity of educators and develop deep thinking about children’s learning processes and the researchful pedagogic practices that can support children’s meaning-making strategies.”
A conversation about philosophies, theories and relevance...
Jessica Horne-Kennedy spoke to Debi about her upcoming series at Gowrie NSW Education Hub to gain insights into the philosophies, theories and processes underpinning pedagogical documentation and its relevance for our work with young children in early education settings.
In November you will present this two-part online workshop for Gowrie NSW - what is one key important idea behind this series?
I think for me, the key idea when thinking about pedagogical documentation is that it is not a product, for example, a panel on the wall or an entry in a child’s personal portfolio of some kind, but a process. A process that involves thinking about what you will be observing and why (our pre-figurations), the act of observation itself, the reflection on that observation in relation to your pre-figurations as such, and the decisions you make after thinking about what you have observed. It is a formative process of our own professional development that helps us in understanding how children learn that also makes it possible to share those significant moments with others for future conversations about what they think about it too.
Pedagogical Documentation might be a term that is new to many educators in early childhood – if you could describe what this is in a nutshell what would you say?Well, a nutshell is so hard… so I’m going for a slightly larger coconut here! I think if we first consider the documentation element first. Documentation of any kind involves the collection and preparation of documents, which for us working in early childhood could be photographs, film, notes of what the children have said, notes on what they are doing with their bodies, notes on what we are wondering at the time, and also the artefacts that the children may be working on, for example, drawings, paintings, clay work, a story they have narrated, their writing… those physical traces that children leave behind. In fact, I call thee the traces of learning. Now to the pedagogical part, for me, it is then what you do with those traces. If they just go into a box to go home with the child, or if they are just put on the wall to be displayed, or if we never look at the video again, or post it in a digital portfolio for others to see, then that is about collecting and making it public. The pedagogical part means we must act on those traces, through processes of observation, interpretation that helps us to understand what it is the child, or the group are thinking about, helps us to understand and interrogate the processes and strategies of learning that our children are using, for us then to make better decisions about what we as educators do next. If we look at the word pedagogy, then we see it as referring to how teachers teach, informed by their beliefs and values, and how their teaching affects their learners. So, in that nutshell, pedagogical documentation is a process that helps us to keep reflecting on how we teach, why, and the effect of actions of teaching on the children with who we are working directly with. We could also call it a kind of practice-based research.
- Researching the strategies and genres that children use in their drawings
- Researching how children develop understanding about numbers
- Researching an inquiry with children about trees, another about the insects they found whilst digging in the garden, another about how seeds grow and how they know how to grow
Topics: thought leadership