Investigations into children’s participation and agency: working towards change in classroom practices and cultures

Cox, Susan (2014) Investigations into children’s participation and agency: working towards change in classroom practices and cultures. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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My research broadly has two strands. The first has contributed to work on young children’s use of representational practices, showing how children’s drawing activities are grounded in intention and meaning-making in social contexts. In drawing attention to what children do and how they actively use visual representation it added new insights to theoretical work on learning in a socio-cultural framework where learning is understood as participation in social practices; as joint activity, mediated by other people and cultural activities and artefacts. The second strand was based in these understandings of learning but explored, and also developed communicative practices in classrooms and children’s role in decision-making. The research investigated the extent of the children’s democratic engagement and the development of a more democratically participatory space where they can exercise agency both as learners and as participants in democratic communities. This work also contributed in new ways to children’s agency as researchers. I argue that these two strands are inter-related, a position also represented in my sole-authored book (Cox 2011). In relation to development in pedagogical practices across important areas of teachers’ work, including classroom interaction and communication, curriculum and assessment, I argue in this book that principles can be based in socio-cultural ways of theorising learning, as well as in democratic values, suggesting more ‘participative’ (empowered) participation. Using research evidence and argument I show how changes in classroom practices can be appropriated by conventional theorisations of learning (person-to-person accounts) and existing cultures of ‘schooling’, limiting children’s learning. I explore the tensions that arise, especially in a wider context of performance-driven, market-led policies. An underlying theme is that a shift towards socio-cultural understandings of learning might help to resolve these tensions and achieve changes in practices in possibly transformative ways, creating a more educational culture and embracing the idea of children as agents of cultural change. I aim, in the commentary, to convey the thematic connections and contributions across my work in relation to my role as teacher educator as well as researcher.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Publication
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Users 7377 not found.
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2014 13:09
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2014 13:09


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