Documenting Children in Alternative Care Services: Transitional Spaces Between ‘Being Spoken for’ and ‘Speaking for Oneself’
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In early childhood education and care services, documentation is seen as an instrument for ‘giving children voice’ and for engaging children in their educational process (Formosinho and Pascal 2016; Kroll and Meier 2018; Robertson et al. 2017). At the same time, documentation plays a key role within the decision-making process in which children should be allowed to participate: it is the space where the adults’ decisions are made and shared, whereas within the child protection system, it remains more likely to reflect the adults’ voice (Caldwell et al. 2019). Thus, documentation, especially when in written alphabetic form, illustrates the power of writing and written text (Biffi 2019b). Given that alternative care services are institutional contexts in which the exercise of power and control is inevitable and determined by a given ‘dispositif’ as defined by Michael Foucault (1975), documentation can represent a strategy for giving voice to children or—on the contrary—a strategy for objectivating them, and thus preventing them from authentically engaging with their own care plans. This paper, by drawing on the different meanings held by documentation in ECEC contexts, in terms of viewing it as ‘equipped with agentic power’ (Alasuutari and Kelle 2015) reflects on the meanings of (pedagogical) documentation in alternative care settings, as a transitional space between ‘being spoken for’ and ‘speaking for oneself’, in light of a rights-based and pedagogical framework. A further aim of the paper is to explore possible approaches enabling children to participate in the documentation process, focusing on the practices able to involve children in the writing and reading of documentation concerning themselves.
KeywordsPedagogical documentation Participation Alternative care services
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