Tvil som drivkraft.

Johannesen, N.
Nordic Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 6 (11), 1-17.


The purpose of this study is to investigate what takes place in the meeting between the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas' texts and empirical material based on interviews with early childhood educators from two different daycare centres (barnehage) in Norway.


The study concludes that doubt is an important element in the development of pedagogical practice. Doubt is a concept developed by the author by analysing the empiricism with Levinas' texts. Doubt arises in the early childhood educators when they meet the children's practice with openness (i.e. both what the children say and the way they react through their body language). By letting go of the situation and meeting the children's ideas and impressions, the early childhood educators let themselves be challenged by the child. This creates an asymmetric power structure between the early childhood educators and the child, by which the child's input can help develop the pedagogical practice. Through doubt, space is created for the unknown, which results in energy, commitment as well as improved professional skills in the early childhood educators. Thus the doubt of the early childhood educators works as a positive driving force in the development of their pedagogical work. This driving force arises because openness and the unknown possibilities for allowing leeway for children are considered important. However, the doubt in the early childhood educators should not be perceived as distrust in others or in their own work, but instead as an openness to different and unique opportunities which have not already been defined in practice.


The data material was collected over a period of four months and consists of observations of the early childhood educators' work in two Norwegian daycare centres as well as in-depth interviews of two-three hours with two groups of early childhood educators. The interviews with the early childhood educators focus on the pedagogical practice in the institution. Moreover, topics and pivotal points of the interviews are influenced by the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas' philosophical system of concepts, as the researcher has an active part in the interview and challenges the early childhood educators' views with the ideas of Levinas. In the analysis, Emmanuel Levinas' concepts open discussion about attentiveness, openness for the unknown, and the power structure between the adult and child. The data is analysed from a desire to add subtlety and new concepts to the pedagogical way of thinking (e.g. traditional notions about the power structure between the adult and child) by using Levinas' ideas about relationships between people to challenge the empiricism.


Johannesen, N. (2013). Tvil som drivkraft. Nordic Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 6 (11), 1-17.

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