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Social justice in early years settings Dr Kristina Konstantoni University of Edinburgh

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1 Social justice in early years settings Dr Kristina Konstantoni University of Edinburgh

2 Young children, ‘race’, ethnicity and discrimination Key findings: Quantitative and Qualitative studies, various disciplines: social psychologists, cognitive and developmental psychology, sociology children can become aware of ethnic differences from around the age of two, and are also able to develop negative attitudes and prejudices from about the age of three (Connolly, 2007) (see studies Connolly et al, 2002; Van Ausdale and Feagin, 2001)

3 History of work…early years and anti- discrimination Strategies and approaches challenge racism and discrimination early years (see Derman-Sparks 1989; Brown 1998; Knowles & Ridley, 2005; Lane, 2008)

4 Some key characteristics : anti-discrimination approach challenges inequalities going beyond a ‘touristic approach’ celebrating culture and difference, issues of power, justice and inequality included within formal and hidden curriculum- help pupils understand and deal with racism, prejudice and stereotyping (Gillborn, 1995)

5 staff should support children to feel good about themselves, enhance children's participation to their full potential, enhance positive relations, support children to recognize what is fair and unfair in their everyday relationships with each other and support children to stand up for themselves and for others who are treated unfairly, enhancing children's critical thinking at the same time (Derman-Sparks, 1985: 5; MacNaughton, 2000: 227).

6 Critiques lack of effectiveness; being more of rhetoric than a reality (Gillborn, 2006)

7 Brief Context of the study  Two case studies in Scotland One mainly white nursery class (25 children) One multiethnic nursery class (22 children)  Length of time of fieldwork One academic year (August 2007-July 2008) 4 days a week (2 days in each nursery) Spent on average 2,5 -3 hours each day

8 The story....

9 The example of Hassan (H)-Scottish Pakistani, boy-, R- African/Caribbean, boy and Young (Y)- Korean, boy in the mainly white nursery

10 The example of Hassan (Scottish Pakistani, boy), R (African/Caribbean, boy) and Young (Korean, boy) in the mainly white nursery Comment: Hassan did not used to have a negative view towards Young. However, the fact that he was listening carefully to R and then it happened that his favourite friends were being negative as well, helped for such beliefs to be transmitted and reproduced.

11 Staff’s approach Staff do not consider this a problem, as Hassan (Scottish/Pakistani,boy) was observed to play with Young (Korean,boy) on previous occasions. Teacher: But I have seen Hassan play with Young.

12 Comment: A few weeks afterwards, I observed another negative comment from Hassan towards Young (see 4). Young and Hassan are interacting by competing between them while playing with the car carpert. Hassan gets annoyed he says to Tara (white, Scottish), that he does not like chinese people making a more generalised comment. Hassan is now transferring his knowledge to Tara. Tara however is not influenced. Tara is saying that they are also Chinese- although they are not. Tara did not seem to be affected from Hassan's comments. The example of Hassan (Scottish Pakistani, boy), Young (Korean, boy), Nathan (white Scottish) and Tara (white Scottish) in the mainly white nursery

13 Staff’s approach Staff not aware, neglect, don’t feel confident or disregard social implications in relation to ethnicity

14 The example of Hassan (Scottish Pakistani, boy), R (African/Caribbean, boy) and Young (Korean, boy) in the mainly white nursery Comment: The power dynamics are obvious, Hassan is more powerful in the case of Young than with Bill. Hassan really wants to play with Bill but it is the fact that Bill does not play with him that he does not in turn want to play with him and that is why he is annoyed. Whereas in the case of Young, he is in the powerful position to choose not to play with him due to the fact that he annoys him due to his nationality and particularly the fact that he does not speak English “properly”.

15 Reflection points 1.What are your thoughts about this story? 1a. Has something similar happened in your setting? If yes, how did you react? 1b. If not. Think about what the practioners did, what are your thoughts? What would you do? 2.Are we always ‘really listening’ to children? 3. What are the potential implications for children’s health and well-being?

16 Children’s views regarding exclusion…  “N: coz he is from a different country”  YM: coz he don’t speak English very well so that’s why they don’t play with him (…) YM: he wants to play with friends R: he wants to play aha YM: but because he doesn’t speak English very well, it is difficult for him

17 We’re all friends in nursery Mainly White Nursery (Interview) Mrs W: Ehm, Hassan said something that was round the table last week, I don‘t like Young I don‘t like the Chinese boy. K: Aha. Mrs W: Meaning Young. K: I‘ve noticed that mmhh. Mrs W: That‘s what he said and I, I mean I‘ve never heard (her) say anything but I‘ve heard her (Tara) say that she doesn‘t like Hassan and I‘ve wondered myself (paused).

18 We’re all friends in nursery K: What? Mrs W: If it‘s because you know, ehm, ehm (gets very quiet and starts mumbling, starts whispering about Hassan having a different kind of skin, different colour but not at all confident about this). K: Mm… Mrs W: I‘ve asked her why and she couldn‘t answer me, I said at nursery we are all friends together… we are all friends in nursery

19 However… children did not feel that everyone was their friend ‘we are all friends in nursery‘ : slogan used by children when adults intervened in their quarrels, or between them in order to superficially avoid the child that they did not want to play with- little impact on their real feelings, ideas or attitudes. when quarrels and exclusionary or discriminatory attitudes occurred, issues were much deeper and needed further exploration, with a need to go beyond a ‘we are all friends in nursery‘ approach. temporary solution to the problem, not change attitudes and ideas that were perpetuated and repeated as soon as the adult left.

20 Educators’ practice commitment to social justice children encouraged to be friends with each other used resources (e.g. books, photos), circle times with dolls, and dedicated particular weeks to friendships and discussions of feelings of happiness, sadness and others Antiracist education seen as negative approach- Very often putting ideas into people’s heads‘ Emphasis on multicultural approach

21 Dominant and traditional developmental discourses (see Woodhead, 2006) ‘Childhood Innocence’  children as 'too young' to engage in or understand discriminatory practices  'not seeing' differences and as passive recipients 'just mimicking' or 'soaking up' adult behaviour (Robinson & Jones Diaz, 2006)  issues around equity and discrimination are often neglected  existing power relations are reproduced.

22 Children’s rights based pedagogies/approaches similar challenges: limitations to the implementation of Article 12 when children’s views are difficult to ‘listen to’ and involve a more challenging and interventionist approach ( moving beyond the ‘safe’ process of responding to children’s choices, interests and preferences in terms of everyday activities, resources and others). in the name of 'childhood innocence‘ discrimination neglected (Konstantoni 2013)

23 Children’s rights based approaches: contemporary practices implementation of participatory rights not always followed by a call to ensure that other rights are equally respected and acted upon (e.g. Article 2-right to non- discrimination). emphasis on children’s participatory rights is not always linked to an emphasis on other human rights (see also Browne 2004 ; MacNaughton & Smith 2009; Wood Lundy (2007) : all rights are interconnected, interdependent and interrelated

24 MacNaughton & Smith (2009: 163) suggest a ‘human rights-spirited early childhood curriculum’. In a human rights-spirited early childhood curriculum, the child‘s ideas and perspectives on their relationships and experiences become the starting point for a curriculum whose intention goes beyond children‘s participation in decision making to create a spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity through it‖ (MacNaughton & Smith, 2009: 166).

25 Implications for Teachers’ Practice in relation to Social Justice Why should we listen to children’s views?  there is a need to listen closely to, and question further and discuss children’s views, to believe in the children and their lived experiences, and to take their actions seriously  Uncritical and unchallenged views could develop and perpetuate discriminatory views Implications for practice in relation to social justice: Thinking critically about children’s ‘active’ participation Implications for practice in relation to social justice: Thinking critically about children’s ‘active’ participation

26 mplications for staff pedagogy  Proactive along with reactive  Develop children’s critical thinking  Challenge discrimination through direct involvement in children’s play (MacNaughton, 2000): promoting an anti-discriminatory approach Implications for practice in relation to social justice: Thinking critically about children’s ‘active’ participation Implications for practice in relation to social justice: Thinking critically about children’s ‘active’ participation

27 Making a difference, implementing and leading change in P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E

28 Resources: How can practitioners promote social justice in practice? Indicative resources:  Derman-Sparks, L. (1989) Anti-bias Curriculum: Tools for empowering Young Children. Washington, National Association for the Education of Young Children.  Knowles, E. & Ridley, W. (2005) Another Spanner in the works. Challenging prejudice and racism in mainly white schools. Stoke- on-Trent, Trentham Books Limited.  Lane, J. (2008) Young Children and Racial Justice. London, National Children's Bureau.  MacNaughton, G. (2000) Rethinking gender in early childhood education. London, Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd.  Robinson, H, K, & Diaz, J, C, 2006, Diversity and Difference in Early Childhood Education: Issues for Theory and Practice. Open University Press: Maidenhead.

29 Resources: How can practitioners promote social justice in practice? Indicative resources:  Diversity in Early Childhood Education and Training  Education Scotland (Inclusion and Equality) clusionandequality/index.asp clusionandequality/index.asp  Persona Doll Training

30 Thank you!!!!

31 References Brown, B Unlearning Discrimination in the Early Years. Oakhill: Trentham Books. Browne, N Gender Equity in the Early Years. Maidenhead, Open University Press. Connolly, P “Promoting Positive Attitudes to Ethnic Diversity Among Young Children: The Role of Research.” Early Childhood Matters, 108: publications/Browse_by_series.html?ps_ page=1&getSeries=4 Connolly, P., Smith, A. & Kelly, B Too Young to Notice? The Cultural and Political Awareness of 3-6 Year olds in Northern Ireland. Belfast, Community Relations Council. Available from: Derman-Sparks, L Anti-bias Curriculum: Tools for empowering Young Children. Washington, National Association for the Education of Young Children. Gillborn, D Racism and anti-racism in real schools: Theory, policy and practice. Buckingham, Open University Press. Gillborn, D Citizenship Education as Placebo: ‗Standards‘, Institutional Racism and Education Policy. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 1 (1),

32 Knowles, E. & Ridley, W Another Spanner in the works. Challenging prejudice and racism in mainly white schools. Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham Books Limited. Lane, J Young Children and Racial Justice. London: National Children's Bureau. Lundy, L “ ‘Voice’ is not Enough: Conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.” British Education Research Journal 33(6): MacNaughton, G Rethinking Gender in Early Childhood Education. London: Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd. MacNaughton, G., and K. Smith “Children’s Rights in Early Childhood”. In An Introduction to Childhood Studies, edited by M. J. Kehily, nd ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Wood, E “Reconceptualising Child-Centred Education: Contemporary Directions in Policy, Theory and Practice in Early Childhood”. Forum 49 (1): Wood, E Reconceptualising Child-Centred Education: Contemporary Directions in Policy, Theory and Practice in Early Childhood. Forum, 49 (1), Van Ausdale, D. & Feagin, J.R The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism. Oxford, Rowman & Littlefield


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