Expressing, interpreting and exchanging perspectives during infant-toddler social interactions: the significance of acting with others in mind

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    This chapter explores the ways that intersubjective experiences were evident during the social interactions that took place in two Australian infant and toddler early childhood classrooms. In philosophical terms, the word experience has traditionally been used to refer to individual perspectives; to perceptions, feelings, desires and thoughts that make up the private, inner life of an individual. When viewed this way, experience is subjective and personal, either in the form of introspective reasoning about, or the embodied experience of being in, the real world. The viewpoint advanced in this chapter contrasts with individualistic notions of experience to suggest that perspectives are not necessarily as private as some standpoints would have us believe. My starting point is the theoretical ideas of George Herbert Mead (1863–1931), who argued that by virtue of membership of a social group and associated, collective social practices, perspectives are regularly expressed and perceived during social interactions with others (Mead, Mind, self and society. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1934). In other words, during engagement in sociocultural, joint activities, individuals orient themselves to one another leading to an intersection of first person (individual) and third person (others) perspectives (Rochat, Others in mind: Social origins of self-consciousness. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009). In this chapter, I present data from two observational studies of infants, toddlers and their teachers to analyse the interpersonal and intersubjective dimensions of their experiences. I develop the argument that, when individual perspectives are expressed, interpreted and exchanged, infants and toddlers participate in the kinds of shared experiences that build a sense of togetherness and community within their classroom.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLived spaces of infant-toddler education and care
    Subtitle of host publicationexploring diverse perspectives on theory, research and practice
    EditorsLinda Harrison, Jennifer Sumsion
    Place of PublicationDordrecht
    PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
    Number of pages13
    ISBN (Electronic)9789401788380
    ISBN (Print)9789401788373
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Publication series

    NameInternational perspectives on early childhood education and development


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