Among The Little People
January 22, 2018
We are in fairly constant contact with furniture.
Yes, it’s time to sup from the deep, sorrowful well of feminist scholarship and thereby discover previously hidden knowledge. Specifically, regarding the “problematic” nature of preschool seating, on which Dr Jane Bone, a senior lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne, focuses her keen mental cutting beam:
Then there is the ordinary chair, with a seat, back and four legs, usually arranged around a circular table… This chair is ubiquitous. I rarely go into an early childhood environment where there is not some version of this chair. Designed for children, it is sometimes metal, sometimes wooden, either painted or plain, but always – and this is my point – small.
Do try to keep up. This “child-sized furniture, suited to [a child’s] height and weight,” is of course the aforementioned problematic furniture, for reasons that will now become all too clear:
In my first intra-active encounter with the small chair,
Which I’m assuming entails bending one’s knees and lowering one’s buttocks.
I felt that it talked back to me
And what did the tiny chair say?
I felt that it talked back to me about the preschool as a workplace that is gendered, feminised, child-focused and ultimately disempowering.
And in particular,
The small chair passes on a very important commandment to teachers: “Thou shalt not sit down” – you are here to work.
This traumatic and “haunting” experience – being a grown-up among lots of small chairs – apparently reveals “the undervalued nature of teaching young children.” A point Dr Bone underlines with an anecdote involving a teacher who, during a meeting, perched on a chair intended for children, rather than searching out a more suitably proportioned one. Damning and conclusive, I think you’ll agree. And Dr Bone’s mental reach extends beyond mere anecdote:
In order to recapture this [experience]… I went to IKEA to sit on some small chairs.
Selfless, fearless dedication. Behold:
Dr Bone tells us that her “methodological approach is intra-active and diffractive,” which seems to necessitate disdaining that most unfashionable demographic, i.e., “dead white males,” and namedropping Jacques Derrida’s Spectres of Marx, the profundity of which was touched on here. She also informs us that her work is “not necessarily logical.”
Via Real Peer Review.