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Caring for infants calmly: Environmental sustainability as object. Sophie Alcock, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand  An investigation into.

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Presentation on theme: "Caring for infants calmly: Environmental sustainability as object. Sophie Alcock, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand  An investigation into."— Presentation transcript:

1 Caring for infants calmly: Environmental sustainability as object. Sophie Alcock, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand  An investigation into very young (6-24 months old) children’s experiences of belonging and attachment in an early childhood care and education centre that prioritises environmental sustainability in care-based philosophy and practice

2 ‘Manaaki Whenua - Manaaki Tangata’ Care for the land - Care for the people (placenta - living earth) interconnectedness of all phenomena – Centre context:  shared care (no key-primary caregiving)  Strong community + family links  Sustainability philosophy: “Children have the right to a peaceful, safe, secure, healthy, socially just, environmentally sustainable present and future” (first line centre philosophy)

3 ethnographic approach-methods;  Researching: communication processes in-be-tween sensory thinking-feeling bodies, (including pre-verbal, pre-symbolic, before words) Tools: participant observation, video…

4 angles on emotional experience:  Donald Winnicott: holding, (enabling environment)  Wilfrid Bion: container-contained, (pre-symbolic thinking processes)  Lev Vygotsky; perezhivanie (symbols, words)

5 ‘ Holding environment’: enables being (Donald Winnicott)  Holding environment is more than maternal holding: it’s a state of being/ feeling alive/awake that enables infant/ child/ person to simply carry on ‘being’(in the moment) not overtaken by time  “Qualities in early experience of being alive and the changing intrapsychic- interpersonal means by which the sense of continuity is sustained over time” (Ogden, 2004, p. 1350)

6 Container: Contained (Wilfrid Bion, 1962)  “dynamic interaction between, on the one hand, thoughts and feelings derived from lived emotional experience (the contained) and, on the other, the capacity for dreaming and thinking (playing) those thoughts.”  Ogden, 2004, p. 1359)

7 Body thinking –– playing dreaming thinking feeling processes  The container is a process... It is the capacity for the unconscious psychological work of dreaming, [playing]…  “The contained, like the container, is not a static thing, but a living process that in health is continuously expanding and changing. The term refers to thoughts (in the broadest sense of the word) that are in the process of being derived from one’s lived emotional experience” ( Ogden, 2004, p. 1356.)

8 ‘ Me baby; My baby’ : holding environment, enabling container- contained thinking play process  Nina (18 months old) has been very engaged in the activity of doll wrapping over the past two weeks. I and the teachers have commented on Nina’s ‘obsession’ with doll wrapping; her persistence and concentration in the activity of wrapping a doll in various types of wraps stands out. I wonder what motivates this ‘obsession’? I too become obsessed…

9 Shaking out, covering herself; frustration

10 “Myyy baby”

11 Pushing, holding, groaning ‘meeee baby’

12 Shaking new fabric: dropped doll

13 Folding; watching, watched

14 Negotiating: teacher’s words added to actions

15 Exchanging wrapping fabrics

16 Holding, wrapping, watching, containing, fitting  Busy inside outside space, keeping on ‘being’- feeling held, containing thinking processes,  Baby watching: cloth shaking, baby dropping, falling, wrapping, squashing

17 Wrapping baby’s heads

18 Pushing, possessing, power ‘meee myyy baby’

19 Unconscious thinking at play ‘Unthought-like thoughts that are the souls of thought’  The most elemental of thoughts are the raw sense impressions related to emotional experience” (Bion, 1962a, p. 17, cited by Ogden)  “Bion’s notion of contained places primary emphasis on unconscious thoughts” (Ogden)  (Edgar Alan Poe, 1848, p 80)

20 Doll as object: fabric covers,

21 connecting doll and fabric together

22 Processing-thinking experience  “In Bion’s hands the word ‘container’ – with its benign connotations of a stable, sturdy delineating function – becomes a word that denotes the full spectrum of ways of processing experience from the most destructive and deadening to the most creative and growth –promoting.”  (Ogden, 2004, p. 1349).

23 wrapping, holding, covering and smothering, hiding, burying  ‘Wrapping’ theme amongst toddlers and older children and teachers (with real babies)  15 mins uninterrupted concentrated thinking wrapping play  Nell’s main activity for about 4 weeks  Why?, what was she working out? thinking? doing? experiencing?  Baby Sam 9 months later observed repeating doll wrapping ‘obsession’

24 climbing up and crawling down steps; being and feeling high-low

25 Large picnic basket recycled; becomes a cave, a womb, a hiding holding place:  In the infant toddler (under 2s) area  Basket sat all week, inviting play, ignored  Stair climbing a shared focus  Basket and bodies mediate play  Fitting into, hiding, connecting

26 Crawling out & in backwards

27 getting in and out of small spaces, feeling hidden

28 Shutting the door

29 Shared focus 3-4 year olds too


31 Mediates play togetherness

32 What enables this feeling- thinking play?  Things: basket, dolls, fabrics mediate  People: teacher modeling holding baby Sam mediates by example- feeling held  Time: enables freedom to simply be & to play-think-feel-experience  Relationships, rules, roles, community, culture, contributing to open ethos, care & sustainability

33 Caring holding environment: mediates containing processes:  Centre relationships with geographical local community  With whanau- families  As a distribution point for sustainable good (fair trade GE free coffee, bananas, household cleaning, gardening supplies)  Recycling toys from family homes

34 “…affect is the alpha and the omega, the first and last link, the prologue and epilogue of all mental development” Vygotsky (1998, p. 227) (cited by Vadeboncoeur and Collie, 2013, p. 201)

35 References Bick, E. (1968). The experience of the skin in early object relations. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 49, 484. Bion, W.R. (1962). Learning from experience. London: Heinemann. Ogden, T. H. (2004). On holding and containing, being and dreaming. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 85(6), 1349-1364. Ogden, T. H. (2004). An introduction to the reading of Bion. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Apr;85(Pt 2):285-300. Vadeboncoeur, J. A. and R. J. Collie (2013). "Locating Social and Emotional Learning in Schooled Environments: A Vygotskian Perspective on Learning as Unified." Mind, Culture, and Activity 20(3): 201- 225. Van der Veer, R., & Valsiner, J. (1991). Understanding Vygotsky. A quest for synthesis. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Wertsch, J. V. (1985). Vygotsky and the social formation of mind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Winnicott, D.W. (1971) Playing and Reality, London: Winnicott, DW 1965. The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, London: The Hogarth Press.

36 Perezhivanie, (Vygotsky)  Perezhivanie: ‘Emotional experience’ as a unit of analysis  unites emotion, cognition, and development, focussing on the relationships between these elements over time.,

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