Talking early childhood education: fictional enquiry with historical figures

Selby Philip, Peter Clough

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The use of fictional writing, and in particular fictional dialogue, has gained increasing credibility and popularity within the field of qualitative social science research (Clough, 2002; Denzin, 1997; Tierney, 1998) but research in early childhood education has yet to exploit such methodologies. This article asks: what is meant by the term ‘narrative inquiry’ and how do researchers justify its use in research design and report? The article first argues the place for narrative enquiry in early childhood research. It then demonstrates the power of creating fictional dialogues by illustrating the educational ideas of two historical figures and famous pioneers of early childhood education, John Amos Comenius and Susan Isaacs, through an authored ‘dialogue’ with Philip Selbie. This fictional dialogue explores the meanings of Comenius’ and Isaacs’ work and their relevance to Selbie’s work with young English speaking children in the Czech Republic of 2004.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number5
    Pages (from-to)115-126
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Early Childhood Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2005


    • early childhood education
    • fictional dialogue
    • historical perspectives
    • narrative enquiry
    • qualitative research methods


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