I mangetydighedens mellemrum: Om pædagogers daglige vidensprocesser

Plum, M.
Kbh.: Institut for Medier, Erkendelse og Formidling, Københavns Universitet.


The purpose of this study is to explore pedagogical knowledge as a relational phenomenon in ECEC life, i.e. knowledge as it unfolds in relationships between ECEC teachers, but also between ECEC teachers, children and everyday artefacts. The author thus explores pedagogical knowledge by shedding light on the correlations and connections indicated when ECEC teachers talk about "knowledge", about "to know" or about "they know". Specifically, the author seeks to answers three research questions: (1) What does it mean for ECEC teachers "to know" as part of their daily work? (2) What is the significance of colleagues for ECEC teachers' knowledge building and knowledge exchange? (3) What part do children, the specific institution and ECEC elements play in relation to such knowledge processes?


Overall, the author concludes that the relationships between ECEC teachers play a crucial role in the development of knowledge and in the quality of pedagogical work at ECEC centres. The study indicates that "to know" is not in the head of the individual ECEC teacher, but it is something that spans between the ECEC teacher and the many everyday artefacts such as toys, nappies, parents, other employees, rules, official objectives, etc. Knowledge is in the relationships.

Among other things, the author finds that, every day, ECEC teachers have to act in an environment characterised by a sort of ambiguity. This ambiguity constantly requires a form of stabilisation, for example they have to stabilise a meal situation or a situation in which the children need to get dressed. Through relationships developed with each other, the ECEC teachers are able to "cover each other", i.e. they can stabilise – take action, coordinate, create cohesion and order – and clarify the ambiguity in ways that relieve each other. On the other hand, a lack of knowledge about each other leads to a feeling of incompetence and lack of ability to cope with everyday episodes – not necessarily with the other person, but with themselves. The analysis therefore indicates that the experience of being a competent proactive ECEC teacher very much relies on the relationships with children and between adults at the ECEC centre. Using the concepts "infrastructure", "involvement", "covering each other" and "institutional adaptation", the author conceptualises the special nature of collaboration and puts focus on knowledge built up through relations, which again forms the basis for ongoing knowledge exchanges between ECEC teachers.

The author indicates that a new employee in an institution is not able to draw on the background of children and families and on the institution's routines. Therefore, it can be difficult to notice specific situations and to support specific pedagogical focus areas for the individual children. This causes additional strain on employees working with a new colleague, because this means that he/she will have to "stand alone", i.e. he/she will be solely responsible for taking action, coordinating and creating cohesion and order in life of the institution. According to the author, this may help explain why temporary staff are not necessarily considered a help, and why designated "language-teachers", "motor skill teachers", etc. find it difficult to disseminate their knowledge, as well as why sending two employees on a course is not experienced as knowledge investment that will have significance for practice. According to the author, considering pedagogical knowledge as a relational phenomenon makes it possible to question the very idea that an ECEC teacher can be described as "good", "knowledgeable" or "competent" on his/her own.


The empirical material is based on field work in two ECEC centres (0-6 years) with similar profiles, in the sense that they both describe themselves as "structured". In each institution, the author followed two ECEC teachers who were used to working together (worked in the same group/group room). They both swapped places, so that they worked in a new institution with a new "partner". The idea was to include the ECEC teachers in ECEC everyday life that was not entirely different from what they were used to, but with people, rooms and artefacts that were new to them. By making the ECEC teachers swap places, the author wanted to make the familiar unfamiliar, thereby causing the teachers to reflect on what is otherwise "normal" and taken for granted. The author observed the ECEC teachers in their usual surroundings and then in their "swapped" surroundings. In addition, the author interviewed and held reflection fora with the new teacher partners. Teacher assistants involved were also interviewed.


 Plum, M. (2017). I mangetydighedens mellemrum: Om pædagogers daglige vidensprocesser. Kbh.: Institut for Medier, Erkendelse og Formidling, Københavns Universitet.

Financed by

The project was financed by the Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators’ (BUPL) research foundation and the University of Copenhagen together.