Understanding young Korean-American children’s ideological becoming
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This study comes out of a tradition of viewing childhood as an ongoing process of participating in communities, rather than primarily as a time of preparation for adult life. In the era of global transmigration, there is a need for a new way to reconceptualize young children’s identity formation to better understand the process of becoming in diverse children and to integrate and interpret the nature of their socio-cultural experiences in global and transnational contexts. This is an ethnographic teacher research and arts-based curriculum study of how young Korean-American children living in the United States negotiate and struggle with multiple ideological positions and discourses while developing their hybrid ethnic identities. This study focuses on how four- to ten-year-old children’s talk and expressive arts in three bilingual classes in a Saturday Korean school revealed their ongoing efforts to negotiate identities that go beyond their hyphenated identity as “Korean-American.” I studied with them using the Critical Ethnic Narrative Through Arts (CENTA) approach, which I created as an innovative and multi-method model for teaching and research. The CENTA approach in this dissertation reveals the importance of a rich and creative teaching and research method to encourage young children to engage dynamically in the whole process of teaching and learning as well as educational research. Analysis of young ethnic minority children’s narratives and expressive arts reveals their ongoing efforts to understand and negotiate their emerging sense of hybrid ethnic identities. Implications for creating a classroom as a dialogized space where young ethnic minority children might express their own voices and experiences of cultural heritage and ethnicity are discussed. Also, this study provides directions for future research and insights for teaching and research with young children.