pedagogical immediacy, listening, and silent meaning: essayistic exercises in philosophy and literature for early childhood educators

viktor magne johansson


This essay concentrates on philosophizing that happens outside and in addition to planned philosophical discussions, philosophizing that comes alive in practice, that is intensified in children’s encounters with the world, with others, with language, in play. It contemplates how adults, educators and parents encounter children and are affected by children’s philosophical explorations. What is the role of the adult in children’s philosophical questioning? How can we respond to children’s philosophizing? What does it mean to do so? The essay explores philosophical exercises for early childhood educators in a range of examples from literature – memoirs, autobiographies, fiction and works that play in between those. By thinking through these literary examples, it investigates how educators can prepare for philosophical encounters with children through exercises of reading and thinking. In doing so the essay experiments with a form of writing that itself becomes a philosophical exercise. Through the examples and exercises the essay suggests how early childhood educators can train for a pedagogical immediacy that involves listening to the philosophical and existential questioning in children’s play, tantrums, and silences.  The investigations and readings of the examples are not meant to lead to conclusions that can be directly applied in pedagogical practices; neither do they work as arguments for listening or listening in a particular way to children. What we get, and what I am looking for, is rather the experience of working and thinking through these examples.


philosophy of childhood; early childhood education; literature; silence; immediacy.

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