Technology in Three American Preschools: Technological Influences of Ideology and Social Class

Technology in Three American Preschools: Technological Influences of Ideology and Social Class

Allison S. Henward
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-059-0.ch004
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This chapter explores the marriage of popular culture images, media and technology and the manner in which these are implemented in preschool settings. Discussing parents’ choices and teacher’s opinions, this chapter examines popular culture in children’s lives as social symbols. It is specifically concerned with the manner in which social class and preschool ideology contribute to or detract from children’s access to popular culture technology.
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It is 10:00 a.m., center time for the children in Faith Christian’s Pre-K Classroom. The four and five-year-old children in the class are engaged in a myriad of activities: A few children are sprawled out on the carpet perusing picture books, while a couple sit at tables with paper and pencils, tracing their names with the teacher. Not far away three children sit on a rug in front of a Teddy Ruxpin doll, a bear that moves his mouth animatronically when a cassette is placed in the player on his back. They are listening to Teddy “recite” a book on tape. In another corner, two other children are sitting at desks, headphones on their ears and a computer mouse in hand. Staring intently at the monitor in front of them, they are playing games such as Franklin’s Adventures and My Very First Little People Farm. These children are autonomous in their interaction with the computer; although the teacher is near they need very little assistance in navigating the games as they move the mouse, point and click from screen to screen with confidence.

Computer time, books on tape and videos are all common activities for children in this preschool, they are seen as alternate modes of instruction, ways in which children engage with the curriculum. The above vignette illustrates how children in this particular preschool are expected and encouraged to interact with technology, specifically computer software. The rationale or goal according to the school is for the children to cultivate “basic computer skills and to develop eye–hand coordination” (website omitted for confidentiality). This preschool, like many others supports technology and the popular culture characters that pair as components of their instructional curriculum.

This is not the case for all preschools; as I will discuss many see technology, media and popular culture as bothersome or even harmful (Buckingham & Sefton-Greene, 1994, 2004; Hodge & Trip, 1986).

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