How was the idea born to do research about the journal Barnträdgården and its meaning for the development of Sweden’s preschools?

It is connected to my interest in the history of the preschool, which has grown stronger over the years. The talk and discussions about the content, working procedures, and material of the preschool can sometimes seem as news that has not been formulated before. I mean that what is said and expressed about the preschool is a long row of conversations that have been deferred and changed. Investigating the journal Barnträdgården and paying attention to who wrote in the journal has been a journey into a past that is very much connected to the preschool today and in the future. It is both about continuity and change.

What is your own background and entry into the subject?

I have worked as a preschool teacher since the end of the 1970s. Directly after my graduation, I continued with studies in pedagogy and child- and youth studies while working in preschool. At the start of the 2000s, I came to Stockholm Institute of Education and eventually got admitted to the PhD-programme, and when early childhood education became a research topic, it was natural for me to do a doctorate in the subject.

Could you briefly summarise the most important findings of your research?

I show that kindergarten didactics has been formed by the proponents of the kindergarten having had an expressed interest in defining didactics through its material, work procedures, and environment. They did this through negotiations, changes, and nuances in expression that have pushed forward didactics in kindergarten. My contribution is to have described this part of the history of kindergarten didactics.
In it is included the fact that the journal’s establishment can be seen as a policy statement for a future kindergarten. In the title of the dissertation is the discourse about material and working procedures and how it was presented by those who actually wrote in the journal.

I show that there were many who contributed to the content of the journal, not only the most known pioneers. All of the voices contributed to export a message and thereby a discourse about an ideal kindergarten didactics with my focus on material and working procedures. But it also meant that the kindergarten claimed that even homes, charity in a future society, and the female leaders’ education would be affected, which was debated in the journal. Simultaneously, new knowledge in the form of child psychology was presented, as well as new ways to see children from a future perspective where the child’s freedom was an important aspect - and this is what emerges in my dissertation. How the working procedure and material would form the future work in the kindergarten with the assistance of new knowledge. Here, the importance of the role of environment in the development of the kindergarten is highlighted.

What meaning can the journal Barnträdgården have for the future preschool?

For me, the journal Barnträdgården is an archive in the sense that new questions from other perspectives than mine can be asked to it. Many have already done it before me in the research tradition that I am referring to and others can do it in the future.

Did something surprise you during your research?

I was surprised of how formulations in, for example, resolutions that were developed during the years 1918-1945 could be changed by a few words that gave buoyancy to a text in a new way. And how these formulations have a strong buoyancy today.

More about Annelie Fredricsson

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