Shaking off the cloak of ‘certainty’ and embracing ethical dilemmas in baby rooms research

Journal article


Powell, S. and Goouch, K. 2017. Shaking off the cloak of ‘certainty’ and embracing ethical dilemmas in baby rooms research. New Zealand Journal of Infant and Toddler Education: The First Years Ngā Tau Tuatahi. 19 (2), pp. 32-37.
AuthorsPowell, S. and Goouch, K.
Abstract

For a decade, we (the authors) have been actively engaged in funded research about Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) for babies and toddlers. In all cases, our work was approved by a Research Ethics Committee (REC). This scrutiny process provides an important mechanism for encouraging researchers to consider carefully the impact of their intentions and for protecting research participants from harm. But it can be simplistic in its requirements, its application and its conceptualisations of research relationships, procedures and outcomes.

This article is not concerned with the shortcomings of RECs; instead, we consider some of the situated and relational ethical considerations that we encountered and which, in our experience, rarely surface in applications for ethical approval. We acknowledge that the very act of researching can do harm or lead to unintended consequences. Through our work, we became aware that research can produce results that may be unpalatable to the researchers and / or the participants.

We have used Tronto’s (2013) five elements of an Ethic of Care to frame our post hoc reflections about researching the principles and practice of early childhood education and care (ECEC) for babies from birth to two in England. We employ the term, ‘palimpsest’ to convey our understanding of the ways in which multiple scripts, including research narratives, are layered upon those working with babies and young children. For example, the imposition of a national curriculum ‘script’ has the potential to usurp pre-existing professional beliefs, knowledge, understanding, identity and autonomy.

KeywordsInfant and toddler education; early childhood education and care; research ethics; Tronto; baby rooms
Year2017
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Infant and Toddler Education: The First Years Ngā Tau Tuatahi
Journal citation19 (2), pp. 32-37
PublisherUniversity of Auckland
ISSN1175-0529
Official URLhttp://www.education.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/research/research-at-faculty/research-publications/first-years.html
FunderEsmee Fairbairn Foundation
Ragdoll Foundation
The Froebel Trust
Publication dates
Print30 Nov 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Jan 2018
Accepted14 Nov 2017
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
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