This article is based on a study of Swedish preschool documentation practices. The 2010 revised version of the Swedish preschool curriculum emphasizes documentation as an important practice. The Swedish preschool curriculum also emphasizes children’s participation in documentation and evaluation. The main reason for this can be found in the very first words of the curriculum: ‘Democracy forms the foundation of the preschool’ (Swedish National Agency of Education, 2011, p. 3). This is connected to children’s right to make their voices heard in all matters affecting them according to UNCRC. However, the curriculum does not give any guidelines on how to carry out this practice. A quality audit by the Swedish Schools Inspectorate in 2011 found that preschool teachers were uncertain about how to document (Skolinspektionen, 2011). This, and a lack of knowledge about documentation, sometimes impedes teachers’ documentation practices in the preschools (Palmer, 2012). With the term documentation practices I refer to all events connected to making and using documentations in the preschool; these include, for example, taking photographs, writing captions, printing documents, looking at and talking about photos, and discussing events depicted in photos or drawings. In documentation practices different kinds of artefacts or devices are present and used (e.g., cameras, computers, printers, pencils, and paper) or produced (e.g, printed photos, texts, and drawings). Through methods that are shaped by an agential realist construct, the main objective of this article is to explore how different kinds of material agents, such as computers, photos, teachers and children, can intra-act (Barad, 2007) in the production of children’s participation in preschool documentation practices. The reason for using the term intra-act rather than interact is that, in Barad’s terms, the world is not seen as consisting of separate entities, which the word interaction implies. Instead entities (which could be human or non-human) are temporarily separated or produced through intra-action; ‘relations do not follow relata, but the other way around’ (Barad, 2007, pp. 136-137). This means that entities are not themselves agential, but become agential through intra-action, and that there is no way of determining, in advance, that any of them are active agents. Agency is also not situated within entities, but is rather produced through intra-action, suggesting that also material objects can become active.
What is documented in Swedish preschools can vary considerably, from activities and/or achievements of individual children to activities that encompass the whole preschool. Documentation can be done for different reasons, such as showing parents what their children have been doing, assessing individual children or evaluating preschool quality as a whole, and it can also be used as a tool for developing the preschool practice (Vallberg-Roth, 2012). There are thus different aims, from documenting in order to be able to remember and evaluate or assess to documenting in order to make way for and develop new activities (Swedish National Agency of Education, 2011).
Springer Netherlands, 2015. Vol. 47, no 3, 443-460 p.
Early childhood education, Children’s participation, Pedagogical documentation, Preschool practice, Childhood