Detskoe tvorchestvo: Pedology and the Scientific Study of Children’s Creative Output
Colloque hypertext link symbol La culture enfantine en URSS, 1917-1941 : objets, lieux et pratiques
Auteur(s) : Byford Andy
Durée : 43 minutes

Référence électronique : Byford Andy, « Detskoe tvorchestvo: Pedology and the Scientific Study of Children’s Creative Output » [en ligne], 2018, disponible sur, page consultée le 08/12/2021

Résumé de la communication

Those engaged in the systematic study of children are likely to be interested in what children produce or create, either spontaneously or under instruction (as part of guided play, educational exercise, labour activity, medical therapy or scientific experiment). What has been studied most typically are children’s art and craft, creative writing, and sometimes performance. However, what precisely is collected as the output of children, how such artefacts are classified and interpreted, how children’s production is framed epistemologically or ideologically, is not self-evident, but depends on the context in which such research is conducted. This means that the scientific study of children’s “outputs” needs to be situated and analysed historically.

This paper will examine how different kinds of outputs produced by children were studied by those who during the first couple of decades of the Soviet era identified with the discipline dubbed “pedology” (child science). The paper will identify some of the roots of pedology’s interest in the output of children in the pre-revolutionary child study movement, but its focus will be on research carried out during the 1920s-30s.

Given that Soviet pedology was a heterogenous field, which assembled a diversity of occupational and disciplinary priorities and theoretical and methodological frameworks, the study of children’s outputs was not a monolithic enterprise. For some, the collection of such artefacts represented a subdomain of pedological research with its own purpose and coherence, usually as part of the study of children’s subjectivities or as a contribution to an ethnography of childhood. For others, children’s outputs were merely a function of charting child development or the development of the mind more specifically, with reference to different, competing theoretical frames – reflexological, psychoanalytic, defectological, cultural-historical, etc. Children’s creative production was also used to assess levels of development or to channel development in a particular direction (e.g. as part of the improvement of the deviant or the culturally backward). One must also bear in mind the significance of politically-relevant framings of such artefacts (e.g. as examples of the ideologically valorised notion of “labour”, or as the culturally distinctive output of a Soviet ethnic minority).

The paper is not envisaged as an exhaustive analysis of this sub-area of Soviet pedology; its ambition is to sketch some of the axes of interest in children’s outputs across the 1920s-30s. Its purpose is to enable us to grasp some of the historical complexities of this domain of the study of children and childhood. Part of the aim of this is to historically both differentiate and connect the interest in children’s creativity that was typical of child scientists of the early 20th century with the one that typifies childhood studies today.

Detskoe tvorchestvo: Pedology and the Scientific Study of Children’s Creative Output [durée : 43 min.], Byford Andy

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