Templeton, Tran N. (ttn2114)

Tran N. Templeton

Assistant Professor
Faculty Co-Director, Rita Gold Center

Office Location:

302E Zankel

Office Hours:

Tuesdays 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. and Thursdays 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., or by appointment

Scholarly Interests

politics of childhood; critical childhood studies; visual sociology; critical early childhood curriculum; early childhood literacies and play; children’s environments and geographies; disability studies in education; qualitative, image-based, and ethnographic research methods


Taking up a critical childhoods framework that troubles the adult-child binary, Tran's work grapples with questions of how particular social and political structures, policies, and phenomena are brought to bear on childhoods, as well as how young children continually work to negotiate and refigure their social worlds and identities. Through visual research that examines young children's photographs, performances, and narrations of their own lives, Tran juxtaposes children's versions of themselves against adults’ renditions of children. She’s concerned with how adults mis-recognize, and therefore misrepresent, children, especially young children and disabled children, whose ways of knowing and relating far exceed adults’ capacities to understand them. The implications of this are manifest in the processes, policies, and practices of school where adult agendas can override children’s desires, interests, and intentions.

Throughout her body of work, Tran proposes that enlargening our adult visions of children has significant implications for the ways that curriculum, schooling, and research are enacted, especially as we account for the historical, social, and political conditions wherein childhoods play out. Her research draws out a politics of the child, which asks, which children are afforded which rights, which protections, and which childhoods? These questions are threaded through her courses, which include topics such as critical pedagogies and visual research methods, children’s environments and geographies, multi-species relations, and curriculum as socio-material assemblages.

Tran was a 2017-2018 AERA Minority Dissertation Fellow, part of the 2019-2021 STAR cohort of the Literacy Research Association, and a 2023 Emerging Scholar of AERA's Critical Perspectives in Early Childhood Education SIG. Over the last few years, she has been working with Vivek Vellanki (as part of their VT/TV collective) on how teachers can re-imagine place and space from children's perspectives. With Victoria Restler, she has co-edited the childhood & youth section of the Palgrave Encyclopedia of Critical Perspectives on Mental Health (2019-2023). With Haeny Yoon and Catherine Cheng Stahl, she's explored ways to tell multimodal stories of being Asian American. Tran has published her work in Children's Geographies, Harvard Educational Review, Language Arts, Urban Education, and Bank Street Occasional PapersHer profile photograph was made by Tulasi, who was 3 years old at the time. 

Educational Background

Ed.D. in Curriculum & Teaching (Early Childhood Education), Teachers College, Columbia University (2018)

Coursework towards a Ph.D. in Special Education, University of Washington (2005-2007)

Ed.M. in Learning & Teaching, Harvard Graduate School of Education (2004)

B.S. in Human Development & Family Sciences (Child Development), University of Texas at Austin (2000)

Selected Publications

Fellner, A.R., & Templeton, T.N. (2023). Sitesensing as method: Emplacement as a tool for connecting to young children’s worlds. In H. Yoon, A.L. Goodwin, & C. Genishi, (Eds.), Diversities in early childhood: Rethinking and doing (pp. 71-84). Teachers College Press.

Templeton, T.N. & Harvey, M. (2022). Unsettling scenes and the geographies of racialized, dis/abled childhoods. In A.E. Vickery & N.N. Rodriguez (Eds.), Dreaming out loud: Critical race theory and social studies futures. Teachers College Press.

Templeton, T.N., & Doherty, M. (2022). A panda bear named Potato Chip: Children’s play and visual literacy. Reading Teacher. Online First.

Yoon, H.S., & Templeton, T.N. (2022). Critical consciousness in teacher preparation: The struggle for control, dominance, and representation in early childhood curriculum. Urban Education. Online First.

Templeton, T.N. & Vellanki, V. (2022). Decentering the adult gaze: Young children’s photographs as provocations for place-making. Language Arts, 99(4), 227-240.

Literacy Futurisms Collective. (2021). We believe in collective magic: Honoring the past to reclaim the future of literacy research. Literacy Research: Theory, Methods, and Practice.

Templeton, T.N. (2021). Whose story is it? Thinking through early childhood with young children’s photographs. Bank Street Occasional Papers, 45.

Templeton, T. N., & Cheruvu, R. (2020). Childhood innocence for settler children: Disrupting colonialism and innocence in early childhood curriculum. New Educator.

Templeton, T. N. (2020). Family photography. In D. T. Cook (Ed.), SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies. SAGE.

Templeton, T. N. (2020). ‘That street is taking us to home’: Young children’s photographs of public spaces. Children’s Geographies, 18(1), 1-15.

Templeton, T. N., & Moffett, C. (2019). Kid president: Aesthetics of childhood in political cartoons. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 11(2), 1-15.

Cabral, M., Fincham, E., & Templeton, T. N. (2019). Making their marks: Graffiti explorations and the artistic practices of toddlers. Trends: The Journal of Texas Art Education Association, 32-37.

Yoon, H. S., & Templeton, T. N. (2019). The practice of listening to children: The challenges of hearing children out in an adult-regulated world. Harvard Educational Review, 88(1), 55-84.

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