Seminar: Breaking habits - philosophical-empirical inquiry, Merleau-Ponty, and infant participation in research
From Dien Curtis
Breaking habits - philosophical-empirical inquiry, Merleau-Ponty, and infant participation in research
This presentation describes the history of my work and several roots to my interest in philosophical-empirical inquiry (interrogation?), as it emerged in the context of infant participation in research. Specifying that infant participation in research is achievable via observation and reporting of their ‘perspectives’ is misguided; as is the suggestion that Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy is best used as a means for knowing infants’ perspectives. Curiosity about the underlying assumptions and mistakenness of this approach, and the need for alternatives were triggered by my living through a close relative’s terminal illness and the devastating consequences and implications of their diminishing verbal language.
In this presentation, I discuss how my own work progressed as I re-envisioned infant participation in several ways, each marked by an assuredness that I was challenging deeply entrenched habits of knowing and behaving towards infants, whilst simultaneously discovering the difficulty of finding the words to articulate what I was proposing — a discovery marked by several key ‘growth points’ in my thinking, writing, and research. It is envisaged that this journey will resonate with other researchers seeking to challenge taken-for-granted knowledges and assumptions, irrespective of the unique conceptual and methodological challenges of their particular research context.
Sheena Elwick is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education (ECE) within the School of Education at Charles Sturt University, and is located on the Albury-Wodonga campus, NSW. She has practice-based experience in prior-to-school, primary school, and tertiary settings, both as a teacher and a teacher educator.
Sheena specialises in working closely with ECE service staff, and the children themselves, to explore and co-design innovative and timely responses to questions emerging from within their localised experiences of ECE contexts.
Sheena is skilled in qualitative and quantitative research approaches, including a range of visual research methodologies and pedagogies and associated analysis and dissemination.
She has a particular interest in drawing explicitly and systematically on philosophy, particularly Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, as both a resource and a catalyst for critically engaging with taken-for-granted concepts and methodologies concerning young children’s experiences, whilst offering worthwhile alternatives. This work is underpinned by her continued focus on developing and enacting the research approach called ‘philosophical-empirical inquiry’: work that is at once philosophical and empirical in nature and orientation, exploring and engaging what are conceptual and methodological issues and challenges.
Elwick, S. (2020) ‘Merleau-Ponty’s ‘wild Being’: Tangling with the entanglements of research with the very young, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 52:2, 149-158.
Bradley, B., Sumsion, J., Stratigos, T. & Elwick, S. (2012). ‘Baby Events: assembling descriptions of infants in family day care’. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Volume 13(2): 141 – 153.