ECCE instructors receive prestigious research grant

The Insight Grant will be used to look at how children interact with waste

Christine Beyleveldt // News Editor
Illustration by Rachel Sanvido

Capilano University Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) instructors Sylvia Kind, Cristina Delgado Vintimilla, Laurie Kocher and Kathleen Kummen received a $170,076 Insight Grant as co-applicants with Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Kind noted that the SSHRC is the federal research council, and they will conduct research in the area of how children interact with waste, called “Re-thinking the Rs through arts: transforming waste practices in early childhood education.”

Kind’s interest comes through the arts and prior material research. In 2011, along with Kocher and PaciniKetchabaw, Kind received an SSHRC grant that allowed them to examine children’s encounters with five material objects – paint, clay, charcoal, blocks and paper. The result three years later was a book, Material Encounters, and an exhibit that toured North Vancouver, Victoria and London, Ontario, with interest shown for possible tours in New Zealand and Australia.

CapU isn’t part of Universities Canada and therefore is the only Canadian university that can’t hold an SSHRC grant by itself because the council doesn’t recognize the institution. Any grants awarded to CapU instructors have to be held conjointly with another school. Kind explained that they have partnered with other institutions and they’ve benefited from their prior collaborations. “We had to do everything that a SSHRC eligible institution did,” explained Kummen. “But everyone else will get the money funnelled through their institution but us.”

The same four instructors also received a Partnership Development Grant of $192,585 for a research project also led by Pacini-Ketchabaw, Climate Action Network: Exploring Climate Change Pedagogies with Children, that they’ll carry out with participants at Melbourne’s Victoria University, the Australian Catholic University, the United Kingdom’s University of Birmingham, Senecca College of Applied Arts and Technology and George Brown College.

Even though collaboration is mandatory for CapU’s instructors to carry out research using grant money from the SSHRC, they will experiment in a studio setting at the school. The four instructors have already decided to work with Vancouver-based environmental artist Sharon Kallis, and with invasive weeds growing on campus in a studio setting. They aim to help students live with the 21st Century child, who is growing up in a world where waste and climate change are the legacies that they’ll have to contend with. “It’ll shape courses,” Kind said of their upcoming research in how children interact with waste. “It’ll be the stories that we tell in classes, it’ll be the ways of thinking with and about children.”

“Here was an event with charcoal, watching how charcoal as this active material starts to creep up onto hands; it gets a bit on your face, children look in the mirror, it becomes makeup,” Kind said, referencing an example of how experiments in Material Encounters informed her teaching. “But what is also being played with is an idea of race in a very dramatic visual and also fairly disturbing way, and so it raises all kinds of questions about who are children, what kind of issues do they think about and how can we engage thoughtfully in these ideas with children?”

Kummen noted that in the ECCE program, instructors are always conducting unfunded research. Despite the fact that CapU is a teaching-based university with a focus on preparing students for careers, this research component is a unique aspect of the ECCE program. “Research is an ongoing part of teaching,” she said. “It’s also learning to listen to children, creating environments to experiment together, to see what comes out of that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *