Early Childhood’s Aesthetic Experience in the Digital Age: Perspectives and Connections

Lorenzo Manera, a pedagogista and a PhD student at the University of Modena in Reggio Emilia, joined us in August 2019 for our third exposure series conversation: “Early Childhood’s Aesthetic Experience in the Digital Age: Perspectives and Connections”.

Our conversation travelled from what we open ourselves to when we think of aesthetics as experience to the importance of a pedagogist standing for something. In that, we also chatted about the importance of making choices when formatting research questions to thoughtfully shape our curricular relations, and into questions of how digital technologies shape our everyday entanglements in early childhood education.

Lorenzo opened by speaking about the trajectory of his work of becoming a pedagogista, which we held in dialogue with the processes of becoming a pedagogist that we are working to nurture here in Ontario: how do we see the work of becoming a pedagogist as sustaining a process of undoing and re-knotting? How do we think of becoming a pedagogist as participating in processes that do not conclude with having acquired a particular designation but that work to orient us toward certain dispositions necessary for creating conditions for locally meaningful pedagogical work?

Lorenzo then shared with us his work at the intersections of pedagogy, aesthetics, and digital technologies. He offered for us a proposition of the importance of holding strong commitments and making decisions about how to create particular aesthetic experiences with technologies.

Holding Strong Commitments and Making Decisions

Cristina, the pedagogista with the Provincial Centre, connected this to the pedagogical commitments that we work to activate with the Provincial Centre: what opportunities for bringing to life our pedagogical commitments might we create when we think of aesthetics as an experience? When we think aesthetics as an experience entangled with digital technologies, how might we craft ‘research questions’ that hold close to our commitments? Lorenzo offered the idea of adult (educator, pedagogist) as researcher with digital technologies and aesthetics: what educational possibilities might we open when we take seriously our active role in creating conditions for inquiry with technologies and aesthetics as experience? How do we engage with technologies and aesthetics as something to think with (and, weaving back to the work of the Provincial Centre, as exposures) that help to shape the questions we can propose and the ways that we take up those questions with children? This emphasizes the importance, we think, of making decisions as a pedagogist – it matters what exposures, technologies, aesthetic conditions and experiences, and commitments that we think with. What we stand for as a pedagogist is deeply consequential.

Making Decisions as a Pedagogist
Exploration Through Documenting
Intentions and Specificity

We concluded our discussion with some questions from participants, where we thought with how more-than-human others entangle with digital technologies and aesthetics. Here, the importance of context and space in co-shaping possibilities for living well together was brought to the forefront. Linked to our work with the Provincial Centre, this makes us think about the necessity of thinking about relations beyond only centering humans: how does attending to the always entangled relations within particular contexts shape our commitments, questions, decisions, and work as pedagogists? How might thinking relations more expansively interrupt our status-quo practices of engaging with digital technologies and aesthetics with children?