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Young black children and science: Chronotopes of narratives around their science journals

Authors

  • Maria Varelas,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1040 W. Harrison St., Chicago, Illinois 60607
    • Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1040 W. Harrison St., Chicago, Illinois 60607.
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  • Justine M. Kane,

    1. College of Education, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
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  • Caitlin D. Wylie

    1. Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
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Abstract

We explored 30 Black Kindergarten-2nd grade students' spoken narratives around pages of their science journals that the children selected as best for showing them as scientists. Because in all narratives, space–time relationships play an important role not only in situating but also in constituting them, we focused on such relationships using Bakhtin's (1981) construct of chronotopes. Our chronotopical analysis aimed at fleshing out the temporal and spatial features that were present in the children's journal pages, and in the children's ways of talking both about these features and about being scientists. Our goal was to better understand ways in which African-American children identify with science and scientists in particular contexts: an interview with an adult who had visited their class throughout that year and a class where they were offered various opportunities to engage with science. Using six cases that maximized the variety of understandings we could develop vis-à-vis our research question, we show how the children's narratives were filled with differing space–time relationships in which the children found ways to showcase their agency. Thus, we provide insights into how the children authored relationships with science and scientists, negotiated the past with the present and possible future, and contextualized their narratives within various time-spaces that had meaning for them. Moreover, multiple people populated the children's chronotopes and became intertwined with the space–time relationships that underlined their conceptions of themselves vis-à-vis science and scientists. Despite the varied conceptions of science and scientists that the children portrayed, their narratives communicated a high level of confidence in being able to do science and be scientists, and initiative in learning. The children's narratives were filled with hope, “able-ness,” knowledge, affect, and possibility. These findings point to several considerations for practice. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 49: 568–596, 2012

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