Landscapes of Identity: Young children and the visual arts | Paysages identitaires : jeunes enfants et arts visuels

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Lesley Margaret Pohio


Abstract: This research investigated how early childhood teachers responded to young children’s cultural and ethnic diversity through the visual arts.  The visual arts are a critical means through which children’s cultural ways of knowing can be communicated and made visible. This was a key discovery from a research project underpinned by the New Zealand early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, which cites cultural diversity as a central  principle, and motivated by statistics in the 2013 New Zealand Census that showed a strong demographic contrast between the ethnicities of the youthful and adult populations. The research findings presented the teacher participants’ understandings of culture and ethnicity and their interpretation of the multi-faceted and complex ways children’s visual artwork expresses children’s cultural and ethnic identities. Fragments of the artworks were interwoven within a tapestry to visualise these complex and multi-faceted findings.

Keywords: Early Childhood Education; Visual Arts; Cultural and Ethnic diversity 

Résumé : Cette recherche tente d’identifier de quelle façon les éducateurs de la petite enfance réagissent face à la diversité culturelle et ethnique des enfants par le biais des arts visuels. Les arts visuels sont un medium essentiel pour transmettre et rendre tangibles les voies culturelles du savoir chez les enfants. Il s’agit d’une découverte importante faite dans le cadre d’un projet de recherche soutenu par le programme d’étude TeWhāriki de la petite enfance en Nouvelle-Zélande, qui fait de la diversité culturelle un principe fondamental, sur la base de statistiques issues du Recensement néozélandais de 2013 qui met en évidence un contraste démographique important entre les populations de jeunes enfants et d’adultes. Les résultats de cette recherche illustrent les perceptions culturelles et ethniques des enseignants participants et leur interprétation des voies complexes et à multiples facettes utilisées par les jeunes enfants pour exprimer leur identité culturelle et ethnique à travers leurs œuvres artistiques. Des fragments de ces œuvres ont été regroupés dans une tapisserie pour mieux illustrer ces résultats complexes et à multiples facettes (Figure 1).

Mots-clés : éducation de la petite enfance ; arts visuels ; diversité ethnique 

Article Details

Author Biography

Lesley Margaret Pohio, The University of Auckland Faculty of Education and Social Work

Lesley Pohio teaches at the University of Auckland's Faculty of Education and Social work with early childhood teacher and primary education students. Lesley has taught in the early childhood sector before teaching in tertiary. Her main areas of teaching and research centre around the visual arts and the pedagogy of place.


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