‘Let the Wild Rumpus Start!’. Using Carnival as a Metaphor to Highlight the Pedagogical Significance of Young Children’s Humor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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It is important that the field of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) continues to develop a pedagogical interest in humor and laughter. Research suggests that children have a positive approach to humor that embraces subversion and challenges authority. Differences in adults’ and children’s approaches to humor in ECEC are discussed within this chapter by complementing more traditional lenses that sit within a paradigm of developmental psychology and demonstrate how philosophical anthropologist, Mikhail Bakhtin’s, theory of carnivalesque can provide helpful insights. A short overview of Bakhtin’s carnivalesque theory is offered; then, the chapter discusses research findings that illustrate potential benefits of using Bakhtin’s idea to illuminate a more anthropological and socio-cultural context of young children’s humor and laughter in ECEC. Data from a study set in an urban early years setting are reported. Evidence of young children’s humor presenting as carnivalesque clowning; challenges to perceived authority, often in the form of ‘grotesque’ humor; carnivalesque performance not differentiating between performers and audience; and carnivality as a mode of communication, is explored. Finally, a discussion of how early childhood practitioners can draw on these ideas to facilitate an understanding of children’s intentions and motivations concludes the chapter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch on Young Children's Humor
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical and Practical Implications for Early Childhood Education
EditorsEleni Loizou, Susan L. Recchia
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-15202-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-15201-7, 978-3-030-15204-8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameEducating the Young Child
ISSN (Print)2543-0610
ISSN (Electronic)2543-0629

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