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Why nurture curiosity?

Soern Finn Menning at the Department of Education has submitted his thesis entitled "Curiosity – A value loaded notion. Exploring practices around curiosity in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Norway" and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Tuesday 20 August 2019.

Therefore, this study contributes to asking not only how best to nurture curiosity, but also to the normative question why curiosity should be nurtured.

Soern Finn Menning

PhD-candidate and Assistant Professor

Soern Finn Menning at the Department of Education has submitted his thesis entitled "Curiosity – A value loaded notion. Exploring practices around curiosity in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Norway" and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Tuesday 20 August 2019.

He has followed the PhD programme at the Faculty of Humanities and Education with Specialisation in Religion, Ethics, History and Society.

Summary of the thesis by Soern Finn Menning:

Curiosity – A value loaded notion. Exploring practices around curiosity in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Norway

The importance and relevance of curiosity seems undisputed both with educational theorists and in policy documents.

Not a defined term in educational research

Still, the term has not been the focus of educational research, which suggests that it is taken for granted, so definitions are often transferred directly from research in other fields. This means that normative aspects must be investigated when the term is used in the field of education.

The thesis looks at early childhood education, where the term curiosity often is claimed to be important. Through analysing dominant trends in public documents, but also reflecting on current educational practices, this study seeks to highlight, challenge and expand the ethical and normative resources for preschool teachers.

Understanding of curiosity, the result of personal values

Several researchers have stated that educational practice is often strongly affected by personal, professional and public values, convictions and norms.

This study claims that this also applies to practices surrounding the highly valued term curiosity.

By presenting both breadth and variety, but also expanding the theoretical basis and ethical language, this study gives preschool teachers the opportunity to reflect on and imagine alternative options in their educational practices.

Not only how, but why

Therefore, this study contributes to asking not only how best to nurture curiosity, but also to the normative question why curiosity should be nurtured.

The thesis contains the following articles: 

Tracing Curiosity with a Value Perspective.

Why nurturing curiosity is an ethical endeavour: Exploring practitioners’ reflections on the importance of curiosity.

Mapping the dilemmatic space of early childhood education and care practitioners when challenged by children’s curiosity.

Exploring an alternative justification for the importance of curiosity in education – social curiosity and Løgstrup’s sovereign expressions of life.

 

Disputation facts:

The CandidateSoern Finn Menning (1975, München, Germany) has a Bachelor degree (hons) Film and Video from London College of Communication (2000), Bachelor degree Preschool Teacher from Oslo Metropolitan University (2012), Master degree in Barnehagepedagogikk (Kindergarten Education) (2014) Thesis title (Norwegian only): «Nysgjerrighetens muligheter - en utforskning av nysgjerrighet som et aspekt ved kvalitet på småbarnsavdeling gjennom constructing grounded theory». Now working as Assistant Professor at the Department of Education, UiA..

The trial lecture and the public defence will take place at Arne Garborgs Auditorium – B1-006, Campus Kristiansand, Tuesday 20 August 2019.

Vice Dean at the Faculty of Humanities and Education, Professor Årstein Justnes, will chair the disputation.

Trial lecture at 10:00 a.m.

Public defense at 12:00 noon.

Given topic for trial lecture«Pedagogical practice as a normative resource in educational theory»

Thesis titleCuriosity – A value loaded notion. Exploring practices around curiosity in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Norway

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations from the academic staff and students at the University of Agder. The thesis will also be available at the University Library, and some copies will also be available for loan at the auditorium where the disputation takes place.

Opponents:

First opponent: Professor Geir Afdal, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

Second opponent: Professor Emeritus Stig Broström,  Danish School of Education - General Education, Emdrup, Aarhus University

Professor Aslaug Kristiansen, University of Agder, is appointed as the administrator for the assessment commitee.

 

Supervisors were Professor Elisabet Haakedal, UiA (main supervisor) and Professor Paul Egil Leer-Salvesen, UiA (co-supervisor)