Tradition and convention dichotomises children and curriculum and this is challenged by re(con)ceiving children in curriculum. My study generates ways for thinking differently about children’s complex interrelationships with curriculum by working with the philosophical imaginaries of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. I use an assemblage of imaginaries, namely: rhizome, plateaus, multiplicities, nomad, de~territorialising lines of flight, smooth spaces, becoming, milieu, monad and singularities, all of which disrupt traditional and conventional thought in various ways.
Working with children to share their understandings of curriculum, demonstrated in their curricular performativity of becoming~learning, becomes a complex methodological endeavour, which inextricably (rhizomatically) entwines researching and researcher/participants and research. What I call the assemblage of the thesis is thus as much about researching rhizomatically as about young children’s understandings of curriculum and Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries help bring these together. Rhizome and becoming are two imaginaries that feature frequently in the discussion and in the methodology, with plateaus comprising the condition and expression of the ‘thesis’ cum assemblage. However, as plateaus work non-linearly, the conventional notion of a chaptered thesis is rendered sous rature. Hence the thesis assemblage becomes a milieu of plateaus that can be read in any order, rather than a conventional linear sequence of chapters containing specific sections of the research process. Continuing with generating a milieu (while simultaneously disrupting linearity) both the literature review and rhizoanalysis occur in various plateaus, and the rhizomethodology is played out throughout.
Bringing my understanding of Deleuzo-Guattarian imaginaries of rhizome and becoming into theories about children and childhood and bringing the notion of rhizome together with young children’s curricular performance opens possibilities for conceiving children and curriculum differently, and for receiving these into reconceptualist curricular conversations. A poststructuralist feminist theoretical approach works to destabilise developmental perspectives of children and childhood as well as the adult|child binary, and recognises curriculum as a complex endeavour. The interconnected processes of rhizo inquiry, rhizomatic methodology and rhizoanalysis engage with emerging understandings of researching complexity and further disrupt modernist, arborescent thought.
Data for the study were generated in a kindergarten during a two-week period by moving rhizomatically with the activity of children’s play while video recording their games. Mostly I operated the camera, with the children preferring to be performers in these spontaneous video plays, but periodically various children took the camera and recorded activity of their choosing, thereby generating another dimension to the data. As and when requested by the children, they watched the videos of themselves at play, with opportunities for replaying sequences and engaging in conversation about their becoming~learning. These review sessions were recorded on a second video camera, contributing to an intensifying multiplicity of data. To continue generating this data multiplicity, I approached the rhizoanalysis in several ways – through conventional transcripts, visual notations and by juxtaposing interactive pieces using the literature, transcriptions from the data and my commentaries. For example: data were juxtaposed with philosophical imaginaries; data from both cameras were read alongside one another; data of the children playing were used to inform the methodology as well as the methodology being used to inform the rhizoanalysis; transcriptions were turned into storyboards and some play episodes were mapped pictorially.
Determining conclusions is not the purpose of a rhizomatic research multiplicity. Instead I leave off with thoughts for the reader about ongoing and opening processes of thinking differently around curriculum as (a) milieu(s) of becoming and children as dynamically becoming(s)-child(ren). Rhizomatically, these link to data used to explain map(ping) play(ing), children performing curriculum complexly, children’s expressions of power-fullness and children performing rhizomethodology. These data demonstrate young children’s sophisticated understandings of their doing~learning~living. As well as opening possibilities for adults to understand children’s understandings, the data open possibilities for children’s understandings to inform adult understandings of curriculum, as practiced, theoretical and philosophical, that is, for receiving children into curriculum.