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‘She’s not a teacher, she’s a mummy’: reflections from four-year- olds on a researcher’s identity. Julie Evans College of St Mark and St John

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Presentation on theme: "‘She’s not a teacher, she’s a mummy’: reflections from four-year- olds on a researcher’s identity. Julie Evans College of St Mark and St John"— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘She’s not a teacher, she’s a mummy’: reflections from four-year- olds on a researcher’s identity. Julie Evans College of St Mark and St John

2 The younger a child is the less likely they are likely to be engaged in participatory research and yet: “children from a surprisingly early age can understand the basic elements of the research process and their role within it if this information is presented in an age appropriate manner” (Thompson, 1992:60)

3 Moreover: Mindful that adults such as parents and teachers cannot give valid accounts of children’s social worlds (Mahon et al. 1996)

4 Children were traditionally viewed as ‘beings’ rather than ‘becomings.’ In the early nineties Lansdown was highlighting “we simply do not have a culture of listening to children” (1994:38)

5 Arguably, what has evolved is a culture whereby: ‘listening’ can become a cliché, whereby nobody really knows what it means but somehow no-one can object to it either (Clark et al, 2005:12).

6 The research set out to: 1] Examine the ways in which teachers plan for and organise role play in reception classes. 2] Examine the ways in which children respond to different types of role-play provision in reception classes. 3] Understand children’s perspectives on their experiences of play in school. 4] Develop methodologies for studying children’s role play in educational settings.

7 Listening to Young Children: The Mosaic Approach Clark and Moss (2001) Multi-method- recognises the different ‘voices’ or languages of children Participatory – Treats children as experts in their own lives Reflexive – Includes children, practitioners, parents, other adults, caregivers

8 Adaptable- to different settings Focused on children’s lived experiences Embedded into practice – potential to be an evaluative tool

9 Sample A reception and year 1 mixed class in a rural primary school A reception class in a primary school in a small town An early years unit in a large, urban first school

10 80 children in term 1 rising to 144 in terms 2 & 3 Children aged 4/5 years 6 teachers (female) 6 teaching assistants (1 male) 3 reception classes 71 visits (av. 8 visits per term)

11 Methods Observations Video recordings Children’s photographs Small group work Children’s drawings Vignettes Interviews - teachers Dialogue with teachers and support staff

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15 Ethos and approach As a researcher understanding your own values and positioning of children and childhood (Connolly in James et al., 1998) Power differential may be lessened if children have support from their peers (Hood et al., 1996) Mandell’s (1991) ‘least-adult’ To eradicate generational differences between adults and children is not possible within the research setting (Mayall 2000)

16 Children’s responses to the research process Direct and indirect feedback ‘Using’ the researcher to manipulate situations(!) Adults asking them for consent was often an ‘alien’ concept – particularly at this age At times we were clearly the ‘outsiders’ Children make their own decisions about participation (or not) in research (Davis, 1998)

17 With hindsight would argue that to eradicate generational differences between adults and children is not possible within the research setting (Mayall 2000), certainly not in an educational setting where adult authority is so acute.


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