INTERRUPTING EFFICIENT PEDAGOGICAL DEPENDENCIES
Tracing the symbolic life of plastics in Andean early childhood spaces
DEVELOPMENTALISM: AGE-APPROPRIATE TOYS
Rooted in Euro-western histories of thought, developmental psychology proposes in image of the child that is defined by the illusion of a contextually neutral, universal baseline. Predictable, measurable and easily governed, the developing child is an intimate ally in capitalist future-making. Progressing through the accumulative natures of ‘ages and stages’, children’s knowledge is imagined within a linear trajectory that forms the three pillars neoliberal subjectivities: individualism, competition and progress.
EXTRACTION: MEMORIZABLE MATERIALS
In a time of rapid technological progress and globalization, efficient pedagogies produce knowledges that are easily digestible and quickly attained. Extracting concepts from their contextual origins and compacting them into memorisable fragments, meaning becomes diluted of its relations with the living world in motion. Swallowing only the palatable bits of phenomena, children’s taste for complexity becomes pacified within the smooth consumptive logics of fast, goal-oriented, tidy pedagogies.
CHILD-CENTEREDNESS: THE PURITY OF HAPPY, FUN CHILDHOODS
Images of fun, freely moving, innately creative children are all-too-familiar in early childhood education. Yet, pedagogies that center the individual needs of children through discourses of self-fulfilment and autonomy separate children from the non-innocent, contradictory worlds they inherit. Symbols of neoliberal fun and happiness in early childhood veil children’s entanglements with/in damaged ecologies. Plastic wrapped in dominant discourses of ‘pure’ childhood, children become isolated from the socio-political milieu in which they affect and are affected by.
CHILD-ANIMAL RELATIONS: ANTHROPOMORPHISM
Anthropomorphised animals often found in early childhood spaces tell contested stories of children’s relations with animals. Cultural representations of animals as ‘cute’, friendly companions for children function semiotically and inform anthropocentric narratives of human superiority over natural worlds. Positioning animals as ‘civilized’ and within popular market culture, these materials may inadvertently appropriate the diversity of animal species into human-friendly forms, further distancing children from their complex relations with more-than-human worlds, across incommensurable difference.
Plastic Wall by Alex Berry, Valeria Leon + Samanta Izquierda
Text by Alex Berry, and in conversations with Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Cristina Delgado Vintimilla