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Issues in Educational Research, 2018, Vol 28(4), 953-966
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A touch of touch: Preschool teacher education students' reflections about physical touch

Caroline Johansson and Maria Hedlin
Linnaeus University, Sweden

Magnus Åberg
Karlstad University, Sweden

International research has shown that several countries have adopted a cautious attitude towards physical touch between educators and children. Physical touch in preschool is a sensitive and difficult issue that requires preschool teacher education to address the question in a considerate and thoughtful manner. Nevertheless, the question of how students are prepared for the touch that is part of an educational environment with children has only been investigated to a limited extent. The aim of the present study is therefore to study how students perceive that the question of touch is handled in Swedish preschool teacher education. Data was collected through surveys (N = 204) and through semi-structured interviews with students and graduates in preschool teacher education. The results show that the informants felt that their interests and needs were not met. Instead, they were forced to take their own responsibility for raising the issue. To the extent that discussions about physical contact were addressed in education, it was primarily negative aspects that were raised. The results are discussed, for instance from a gender perspective. The men in the program are more affected by the lack of a clear place for touch in the program.
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Authors: Caroline Johansson (corresponding author) is a lecturer in psychology at Linnaeus University, Sweden. Her research focuses on touch and psychology.
Email: caroline.johansson@lnu.se
Web: https://lnu.se/en/staff/caroline.johansson/

Maria Hedlin is Associate professor of Education at Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden. She is a teacher educator and her research focuses on preschool, teachers and gender issues.
Email: maria.hedlin@lnu.se
Web: https://lnu.se/en/staff/maria.hedlin/

Magnus Åberg is an ethnographer and gender scholar at Karlstad University, Sweden. His research revolves around power practices in mundane educational settings, with main focus on gender issues in preschools.
Email: magnus.aberg@kau.se
Web: https://www.kau.se/personal/magnus-aberg

Please cite as: Johansson, C., Hedlin, M. & Åberg, M. (2018). A touch of touch: Preschool teacher education students' reflections about physical touch. Issues in Educational Research, 28(4), 953-966. http://www.iier.org.au/iier28/johansson.pdf

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Created 4 Nov 2018. Last revision: 4 Nov 2018.
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