Today’s society places high demands on the individual in terms of ability to acquire understanding of and knowledge about technology. One of the visions of the 2010 Governmental committee Teknikdelegationen was a Swedish society that provides all its citizens with the competence needed to understand; profit by and influence the development of an increasingly complex and technologically advanced society. Hence the committee emphasized that knowledge about technology must be disseminated early on; already in the preschool; and technology should be an important feature throughout the education system (Teknikdelegationen; 2010; p. 26-27). A clear majority of Swedish children now attend the preschool; although it is not mandatory. The preschool is consequently the first institutional context that Swedish children meet in their lives; and it therefore plays a very important role in the Swedish welfare state. As of 1998; preschools were part of the public school system and the first curriculum was then adopted. In the new curriculum for the preschool (2010) technology is emphasized as one of the most significant pedagogical areas to work with. In many countries the preschool age is seen as an important time for laying the foundations for knowledge about and interest in technology; since it is believed that the children’s curiosity comes naturally (Axell; 2012). It is thus seen as a crucial age to get both boys and girls interested in technology. Although research on technology education in the preschool is lacking to a great extent; existing research largely confirms these views (see; for example; Parker-Rees; 1997).
The aim of this paper is to investigate how girls and boys explore and learn technology in free play in two Swedish preschools. The empirical study is inspired by an ethnographic approach and is based on qualitative data collected through observations and informal talk with children and teachers. Two preschools with children one to five years old were chosen for the study.
Keywords: Preschool; technology education; free play; gender; philosophy of technology