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Representing space: Katie’s horse and the recalcitrant object

MacRae, Christina (2008) Representing space: Katie’s horse and the recalcitrant object. Contemporary issues in early childhood, 9 (4). pp. 275-286. ISSN 1463-9491

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Abstract

This article is a practitioner’s attempt to resist habitual ways of interpreting and responding to young children’s drawings. Early art education as a discipline is shot through with complexities, including wider shifting social discourses. This article specifically explores the continuing and powerful effect that Piaget’s developmental approach has had on ways that teachers expect children to represent the world. The critique of Piaget examines how his stages of cognitive development intersect with an account of perspective that naturalises the claims it makes to represent the world. Critical analysis of responses to a child’s drawing draws attention to the ways that this normative and perspectival approach frames readings of the drawing. In order to create new ways of thinking about the drawing, the article offers a material critique of the logic of representation. In this alternative account the object that has been drawn stubbornly refuses to stand in for the real. Difference rather than resemblance is introduced into the reading of children’s drawings.

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