The purpose in this article is to elaborate on how the use of patterns of variation designed by variation theory can challenge and develop the early childhood education (ECE) practice. The analysis is based on six learning study (LS) projects conducted in Swedish ECE. A LS is a systematical, theoretical based development of teacher professionalism, often in close cooperation with researchers. The projects included 17 teachers, 140 children and 7 researchers. The video documented empirical material consists of 16 analysis meetings, 14 interventions and 407 pre-, post-, and delayed posttests. Each project is a concrete example of the use of patterns of variation to increase early childhood learning. In all cases a tendency of qualitative changes in children’s ways of discerning the object of learning could be noticed. The purpose is to search for how this can be understood from a variation theoretical perspective. The main focus is on changed ways of performing the interventions to search for how patterns of variation were used to create and capture the learning situations throughout the projects. One of our findings is that we have seen that it takes more than one intervention for the teachers to capture which aspects of the object of learning are critical in the targeted group, but as the iterative process allows them to try out the design more than once, they manage to find them. The second finding is that the teachers changed focus from taken for granted assumptions of each child to focusing on their own design to facilitate the child’s learning. Finally, the aspect supposed to be discerned has to vary against an invariant background to be discerned by the children, and to separate the principle from the representation is needed to be able to generalize their new knowledge.
Cite this paper
Ljung-Djärf, A. , Brante, M. & Brante, E. (2013). Patterns of Variation: A Way to Support and Challenge Early Childhood Learning?. Creative Education, 4,
33-42. doi: 10.4236/ce.2013.47A1005
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