Facilitating children’s narratives in the classroom. From self-determination to authorship of knowledge. An exploration of pedagogical innovation to promote children’s agency in London primary schools

Scollan, Angela ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9005-5838 (2021) Facilitating children’s narratives in the classroom. From self-determination to authorship of knowledge. An exploration of pedagogical innovation to promote children’s agency in London primary schools. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This thesis illustrates a research project that includes the design, use and analysis of facilitation to promote children’s access to the role of authors of knowledge during classroom interactions. The research is motivated by the idea that promoting children’s status as constructors of knowledge is essential for a pedagogy of authentic listening. Authentic listening combines the ethos and methods of dialogue and early childhood education, applying them for the first time in KS2 Primary school classrooms contexts.

The contexts for facilitation were workshops in two London Year 3 classrooms where children were offered the possibility to narrate memories encrypted in photographs chosen or taken by them. Facilitating in Year 3 classrooms meant working with children on the cusp of early childhood whilst firmly embedded in KS2 school education.

Based on a solid theoretical background that includes newly developed concepts, the study investigated how facilitation can favour: 1) a participative approach to learning based on equality of opportunities, 2) empathic reflection on the background of personal memories; 3) expectations of personal expression as the form of participation to interaction. Equality, empathy, and expectations of personal expressions are core elements of dialogue. A qualitative approach to the production of data was considered appropriate. Facilitation was observed as developing sequences of adults’ actions and children’s actions including 1) adults’ actions promoting children’s authorship of knowledge and displaying attention for their choices and, 2) children’s actions displaying authorship of knowledge and choices.

The analysis of facilitation combined ethnomethodological observations and analysis of interactions to identify facilitative actions that prove effective in supporting children’s access to the i) role of authors of knowledge ii) as producers of narratives and iii) co-producers of narratives. The analysis of interactions was influenced by the ‘Conversation Analysis’ focus on the interactive achievement of meanings through sequences of actions-in-interaction. For conversation analysis, talk-in-interaction is both shaped by the context of an interaction that works to (re)produce the context of the interaction. This was an important point for the research: as a type of talk-in-interaction, facilitation can shape the context of adults-children relationships, contributing to the positioning of children as agentic authors of knowledge.

The analysis of interactions during workshops suggested that facilitation can create conditions of agency that are a presupposition of dialogic pedagogy. In particular, the new knowledge generated by the research consists in the identification of an array of facilitative actions that can successfully upgrade children’s epistemic authority as responsible decision-makers and promote their access to the role of authors of knowledge.

The expression of children’s self-determination is most evident when children take personal initiatives. An innovation advanced by this research is a focus on how facilitation can support children’s personal initiatives, even when children subvert the trajectory of the interaction initiated by the facilitator. Facilitation was not interested in measuring the fulfilment of the facilitator’s agenda. Children’s personal initiatives, whether they align to the trajectory of the interaction designed by the facilitator or not, are cues for the success of facilitation, and this is how the analysis of data approached them.

Based on the exploration and knowledge generated by the research an innovative idea is presented. The idea is to conceptualise facilitation as an environment that enables children to choose if and how to express their perspectives and experiences and to access the role of co-constructors of the social contexts of their experiences. Environments that enable position children as knowledge-leaders and knowledge-creators.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education
B. > Theses
Item ID: 36709
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2022 10:33
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2023 07:41
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/36709

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