Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies
Invited Speaker

Elin Eriksen Ødegaard

Collaborative exploration – a personal and professional signature story

Main content

The letter to the Duke of Meiningen, written by the German philosopher and educator Friedrich Froebel in 1827, is a powerful autobiography of boyhood and the early experience of life and the educational system. This autobiography describes a long-time commitment to children's play and holistic learning to convince the intended reader of the value of education for very young children. His legacy was play-oriented, and he developed a didactic based on an explorative approach to world knowledge for holistic development and learning. The letter was never completed and probably never sent.

In this keynote, I will pick up this narrative thread and tell you about girlhood in a contemporary Norwegian context and a lifelong commitment to value the voice and world-making of the youngest children in the local educational system. I invite you to join me in wayfaring my narrative inquiry of understanding early childhood education. My expedition will take us to narratives on how cultural formation, play and collaborative exploration were tailored to my research. For example, you will meet an old pioneer of early childhood education in Norway and hear a story of how early childhood professional knowledge valued children and childhood during the second world war. This knowledge was weaved into practices often challenging traditional family fostering. Furthermore, we can disclose failed didactic approaches with holistic approaches and understandings of children's lives and conditions, as seen during the Covid-19 pandemic when information was almost exclusively shaped in a manner best suited to ages four and up. Although children might follow the commands of adults about infection control, a didactical order aiming at getting rid of the virus could be received as something alienating and even frightening by children. We could co-explore communication about washing hands by creating a colorful, abstract animated visual language, with stimulating rimes, rhythms, and melodies, and ongoing dialogue with an artist, children 2-4 years and families. I will present you with storied snapshots for the embodied eye and the ear to give attention to the youngest children's meaning and world-making to remind us to value and validate the next generation through our research and education.

Key Questions

  1. How can you recognize critical events in your own life that impact your academic interest and your choices?

  2. How can the youngest children's music and musicality best be studied?

  3. What is your signature in research and education?

Recommended Reading

  • Ødegaard, E. E. (2021). Reimagining "Collaborative Exploration"—A Signature Pedagogy for Sustainability in Early Childhood Education and Care. Sustainability, 13(9). https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095139


Elin Eriksen Ødegaard is a visionary capacity builder committed to sustainability and equity for children in their early years. She has served the early childhood educational (ECEC) sector and teacher education in various roles. In 2007 she defended her doctoral theses; Narrative Meaning-Making in Preschool, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She has successfully led research projects funded by Research Council Norway, some of which children's, teacher students, teachers' and researchers' narratives have informed insights and knowledge on play, exploration, collaborative narratives, dialogic engagement, and teachers' transformative practices. Since 2018, she has been Researching Director at 'KINDknow - center for Systemic Research on Diversity and Sustainable Futures', [BARNkunne]. Currently she continues her inquiry in early childhood education with particular attention to local and global conditions for practices and expressions in children's play, exploration, and movement. She has supervised six PhD candidates into completion, currently supervising four PhD students and mentoring post-doctoral candidates. Furthermore, she is committed to the World Organization for Early Childhood (OMEP). She is Editor in Chief of Nordic Kindergarten Research Journal. Within these topics, she has published extensively. Her dissemination includes invited keynotes, research translations and the production of video documentaries and animated films.