'Seeing' the toddler: Voices or voiceless?

Is ‘seeing’ believing? What comprises the focus of seeing, how is it seen and who decides what is to be privileged in doing so? Such is the dilemma facing all observational investigations since what can be ‘seen’ is always impaired or enhanced by what each person brings to their gaze—be it frameworks or ideologies that limit or create potential. How much more challenging is such seeing when the subject of our gaze is an infant or toddler who speaks a distinct corporeal language that has long been forgotten by the adult, and who draws from a sociocultural domain that is only partially glimpsed by the early childhood teacher or researcher? In this chapter I expand on the idea of ‘seeing’ as a dialogic endeavour—thus calling for an exploration of voice that goes beyond singular monologic parameters, into the polyphonic terrain of speculation, uncertainty and reflexivity. Taking this approach, I argue that there is potential to re-vision the very young child as a competent yet vulnerable communicator of and with many voices, one who is capable of conveying complex meaning through genres that strategically orient them towards or away from intersubjective harmony.
Chapter in Book
Type of thesis
White, E J. (2011). 'Seeing' the toddler: Voices or voiceless? In E. Johansson & E.J. White (Eds.), Educational Research with our Youngest: Voices of Infants and Toddlers (pp.65-85). Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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