Listening to Children

Listening to Children

Reviewers of Listening to Children wrote:

“I am amazed by the richness and warmth of the texts. I was confronted with a way of thinking that should be introduced in all teacher/pedagogical training. The creative effect of the texts can be situated on different levels:

• On the ‘square millimeter’ of the moments with children and teachers, where listening is an ethical activity in each moment instead of a linear process to be organized in a step-by-step ‘procedure’;

• On an intercultural level in different countries, Davies takes us to meetings from her own neighborhood to Sweden and back;

• On an abstract level of different theoretical/philosophical backgrounds, I think no one in the world can link abstract concepts of Barad, Butler, Deleuze … with ‘real life’ realities like Bronwyn Davies is doing. While she is doing this she is opening opportunities for bringing, for example, teacher training to a level that exceeds the technical;

• On a methodological level by the introduction of the concept of ‘diffraction’, and challenging the concept of reflection. This is very courageous because it is like swimming against a stream full of ‘reflective practitioner’ slogans.

The texts of this book can be seen as ethical-political because they offer a powerful discourse pleading for uncertainty. Identities are not fixed but flexible and nomadic. Self is seen as something that … has to be discovered as active (read: emergent/changing) rather than a fixed state of being.”

Dr Geert Van Hove
Ghent University/Free University Amsterdam, Holland

“The book focuses on the intra-action among children and also between children and adults, professionals and educators working especially with young children. It draws attention to important issue of how to move towards emergent listening and to anticipating ethical questions, which appear in intra-actions with children. Through the analyses in different settings, the book provides a new understanding of what emergent listening requires of us, and what intra-action is, and how children, community and its materials can become continuously legitimate actors in the encounters within a community. The well-organized introduction and interesting and profound knowledge of the studied domain gives the reader a clear picture of the studied settings. The research data is valuable in its distinctiveness, and the illuminating manner of the book gives interesting insights to life in these communities. The contribution of this book is in the thought provoking presentation of exceptional data, depicting the multiplicity and ambivalence of the day-to-day encounters among children, and also between children and adults.

As the aim of the book is to open up, and clarify, the multiple agencies that are functioning together, it can be seen to work against the taken-for-granted presuppositions concerning the interactions between adults and children. The author’s own novel conceptualizations are thorough and detailed, redefining the terms used, and opening up the concepts to make them clearly comprehensible … The theory supports the argument of what listening to children means, how it is generated, and how the children can be produced as legitimate political agents and subjects. These conceptualizations succeed in bringing a novel insight to theories of encounters in pedagogy … Studies of children always require ethical inquiry, which the author provides by opening up the studied encounters in minute detail.

There is a need for this kind of novel view in early childhood education and pedagogy.

This kind of literature is scarce, and this book offers a unique and novel new opening. Professor Bronwyn Davies is a well-known and highly appreciated expert in the studies of education in Finland and in Scandinavia.

Professor Davies’ thinking and theorizing is one of a kind; she has based these new ideas on her well-established and distinctive earlier thinking about the subject and its connection to the world. Nevertheless she manages to ‘ascend’ to different levels each time she writes, and succeeds in ‘renewing’ herself and her thinking in each new book.

I see this book as unique in its methodological approach, as well as in its very own pedagogical approach.”

Teija Rantala
University of Helsinki, Finland

“In this book we are taken on a journey, a flight, exploring possibilities of becoming communities. Davies uses encounters at a Reggio-Emilia-inspired preschool in Sweden to open wonderful possibilities for researching in ways that are not restricted and confined but mobile, intra-active and multiple. Her ways of making sense of analysis as emergent and unpredictable and, at the same time, her analysis of the contribution of Deleuze and Barad takes the reader beyond the preschool to really understanding the ways we are multiple, mobile, intra-active and always becoming. This analysis makes a significant contribution to the work of preschools in particular and also to all researchers whose desire is to explore the not-yet-known.

Davies’ exploration of emergent listening inspires the reader to really think about listening as relational, and as taking us to new and creative places. She uses stories/data from a collective biography workshop, a Reggio-Emilia-inspired preschool and from her own local community to analyse the complexity of being-knowing-becoming. This analysis really takes theorising on amazing lines of flight that can inform thinking, policy and practice about learning for years to come. As well, she teases out ideas about anger, going almost beyond post-structuralism. Her use of Deleuze, Buddhist thought and Barad demonstrates how using a diffractive analysis might take us as practitioners and researchers to amazing places. Then her analysis of art-making with a young girl in her neighbourhood takes the reader into the personal and everyday and shows how this ‘data’ can be used to extend thinking through diffractive analyses. The moments of ‘ah-ha’ are multiple, as new ways of making sense of data, including the everyday, are made possible. The book, finally, takes the reader to a new narrative for a well-loved story, bringing together all the new ideas in the book about agency, meaning-making, ethics, community, listening to children – and experimenting. In reading this book I am excited by the future possibilities of listening to children, learning and researching – all at the same time. It is, for the reader, a wonderful beginning.”

Dr Cath Laws
Australian Catholic University, Australia

Buy on Amazon


23 April 2015


Children, Writing, Emergent Listening, Art