Grant holder
Shaddai Tembo and Simon Bateson
Project status
In Progress

This project examines the extent to which Froebelian pedagogy responds to social justice within the twenty-first century, foregrounding racial equalities with a view to developing a framework for mobilising anti-racism in practice.

Project summary

In light of the murder of George Floyd and the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement, the past year has weighed heavy with questions about how we, as educators, can meaningfully address race and racism in early childhood contexts. Shaddai Tembo and Simon Bateson identify the following research aims:

1. To examine the relation between – on the one hand - Froebelian pedagogy, as interpreted through Friedrich Froebel’s founding texts and in its application in practice within a single Froebelian nursery setting, and – on the other hand – anti-racism, understood as a range of ideas and practices that may counter racial prejudice and discrimination.

2. To develop a framework for Froebelian settings in Scotland to understand a) how racial inequalities can emerge between children through play and b) how they can be challenged by practitioners.

Ongoing reports of racism against Black and minoritised children within educational environments continue to paint a stark picture on the lack of progress that the early childhood field has made in the past two decades (Tembo, 2018; BBC News, 2021; Kinouani, 2021).

Yet while it is increasingly accepted that it is no longer sufficient (or indeed possible) to be merely ‘non-racist’, to date there remains little clear consensus with regards to what an actively ‘anti-racist’ approach may look like in practice.

Furthermore, few, if any, studies have examined how such an approach may align with an explicitly Froebelian pedagogy. As such, there is currently little clarity about how well Froebel’s original principles could be generatively broadened to meet the pressing commitment toward anti-racism, without departing too far from the core values of a Froebelian approach.

A literature review with goals of this kind is intended to provide new knowledges about Froebel. This will underpin the empirical side of this research and form the basis for journal and media publication within the relevant fields of scholarship.

Read a short article introducing the project

written by Shaddai Tembo and Simon Bateson, published by University of Edinburgh

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