Beyond the master narrative: constructing and (re) constructing identity in early childhood education

Year: 2013

Author: Hamm, Catherine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation reports on a qualitative study, completed in 2012 as a Doctoral Thesis. The study, titled Beyond the Master Narrative: Making Identity Visible in Early Childhood Education examined the ways in which three early childhood teachers in Victoria, Australia construct their professional identities, and the role identity plays in shaping pedagogical and curriculum practices. Through the use of a narrative inquiry approach, embedded within case study design, the study traces the influential discourses that have contributed to the accepted practices in early childhood pedagogy and curriculum design, and how these discourses have influenced the construction of each participant's professional identity. The presentation explains the process of developing narrative portraits for each of the participants, framed within the ‘master' narratives of early childhood. These master narratives, drawn from the history of early childhood are named as; Image of the Child, Theories of Early Childhood, Pedagogy and Curriculum. The narrative portraits illuminate the ways in which each participant has been influenced, or ‘captured' by the master narratives. Bakhtin's notion of the struggle between two categories of discourse, (authoritative discourse and internally persuasive discourse) to achieve ‘ideological consciousness' provides the analytical frame for disentangling the master narratives from the teacher's narrative portraits. This process reveals the ‘gap' between the two categories of discourse (Bakhtin, 1981), thereby creating a new narrative space that illuminates each participant's professional identity.