An Australian professor has taken aim at the “small chairs” used in early childhood education, calling them “problematic.”
Such furniture can haunt individuals, and they symbolize “the undervalued nature of teaching young children,” Jane Bone writes in her recent article published in the journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood.
“Chairs, as objects that furnish human lives, can also haunt those lives and give contradictory messages of power, comfort and suffering,” the senior lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne writes in the abstract of her paper, “Ghosts of the material world in early childhood education: Furniture matters.”
Mentioning her initial “encounter with the small chair,” Bone writes that she felt the piece of furniture was speaking with her and indicated that the preschool classroom is “a workplace that is gendered, feminised, child-focused and ultimately disempowering.”
The evidence mentioned by Bone in the article includes conversations in which students studying childhood education said they sometimes sit on small chairs during meetings and a teacher who says that most furniture for children is built for their size.
As part of her research, Bone even visited an IKEA furniture store so that she could sit in child-sized chairs. Included in the article are two pictures of Bone sitting in small chairs. The author also included a brief account of the experience.
“I lowered myself into a small wooden chair; once in position my knees were up by my chin and for some reason I felt like a young child. I was that young child again,” Bone said.
In her paper, Bone suggests that the chairs are a symbol that tell teachers they are “here to work and like women in retail, hospitality and catering, and at home, you will run around after others and not focus on what you might need for yourself.”
Completely,utterly batshit crazy.