The research project “The Magic of Language” has its origin in a small pilot-study between the years 2007-2009 and has been conducted at the department of Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden (Dahlberg & Olsson, 2009). The project is supported by the Swedish Research Council and takes place in a network structure where researchers, preschool teachers, students, and student teachers have been working in close cooperation since the mid-nineties (Barsotti, Dahlberg, Göthson, & Åsén, 1993; Dahlberg, 2003; Dahlberg & Moss, 2005; Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 2007; Lenz-Taguchi, 2000; Olsson, 2009). The project “The Magic of Language” received funding in order to work with preschool children’s relations to, and preschools’ didactic tools concerning, language, reading, and writing, departing from the assumption that these questions are strongly affected by the fact that we today live in a globalized society. Thus, our contemporary globalized society could be described through its continuously transforming features. One important current and ongoing transformation concerns what is described as a changed knowledge production, where knowledge is crossing borders, exchanged, changed, and re - evaluated at great speed (Castell, 1997). At the same time, there is, within what has become called “the standards/accountability movement,” an enormous increase in devices intended to produce stable and permanent knowledge through the taming of learning processes as well as entire practices by planning, supervising, controlling, assessing and evaluating them towards preset goals (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 2007; Dahlberg & Moss, 2005; Grieshaber & Hatch, 2003; Lenz-Taguchi, 2009; Masny & Cole, 2009; Olsson, 2009; Taubman, 2009). This article proposes a way of orienting ourselves in the current situation through joining examples of preschool children’s learning to read and write and teachers’ and researchers’ work with pedagogical documentation with the concept “event,” which was introduced by French philosophers Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) and Félix Guattari (1930-1992). Deleuze and Guattari use the concept “event” in order to contest that we can have such a thing as permanent and stable knowledge of the world and ourselves and, simultaneously, they present some important ideas on language through this concept (Zourabichvili, 2003). As we shall see, the concept “event” counter-effectuates what is described as “orthodox thought,” which underlies the attempts to tame learning and practices and to standardize and trivialize method within the accountability/standards movement. The concept “event” theoretically reinforces our pedagogical and scientific work with pedagogical documentation, and, most importantly, it seems to relate to children’s way of using language in the most congenial way.
2012. Vol. 28, no 1, 88-107 p.