Earthworm disturbances
: the reimagining of relations in Early Childhood Education and Care

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores the political and ethical entanglements of Early Years Teachers with human and non-human worlds. Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) policy, research and professional practice frame expected ways of working with children. This highly-feminised workforce has historically been presented as deficient. I argue this notion sees them as dehumanised subjects (Snaza, 2015), in need of constant upskilling. Posthumanist theorising was employed to reveal Early Years Teachers in relations with other humans (children, teachers) and non-humans (classroom, outdoor environments, objects, policy) forming more-than-human subjectivities. A post-qualitative methodology was developed to attend to more-than-human entanglements, with material-ethno-carto-graphy proposed as a methodological undertaking pertinent to this inquiry. The reconfigured methods-as-affinity-groups built on ethnography to explore connections within/between four Early Years Teacher case studies. The resultant data generated was mapped and read both literally and diffractively where glow data (MacLure, 2010, 2013) was selected for diffractive analysis.
I theorised the positions of becoming-professional and being-teacher to reveal how subjectivities take either a more material connected or a more normative subject position and employ the metaphor of the earthworm to debate these shifting forms. Data revealed becoming-professional and being-teacher saw wider relational entanglements within indoor and outdoor spaces drove new modes of professionalism. Furthermore, the influence of an online tool, Tapestry, on subjectivities was explored. Additionally, vital agentic materiality (Bennett, 2010) and cyborg figurations (Haraway, 1991) were encountered in ECEC classrooms. Finally, the influence of nature has been explored where Indigenous ontologies trouble traditional vistas.
Generative ways to view the production of Early Years Teacher subjectivities show that human and non-human worlds are always in flux. The more-than-human moments reveal the interplay between becoming-professional and being-teacher as a re-humanising enactment with subjectivities distributed across human and material bodies. These relations are a counter movement to the reified professional in policy, research and professional practice.
Date of Award28 Sept 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Southampton
SupervisorJanet McCray (Supervisor), Ben Noys (Supervisor) & Vini Lander (Supervisor)

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