An examination of philosophy with children as a material discursive practice in a year 7 classroom

Munro-Morris, Luisa (2017) An examination of philosophy with children as a material discursive practice in a year 7 classroom. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

The research reported on in this thesis examines whether Philosophy with Children can support teachers and students to bring their own ways of knowing to classroom practice. It began from my concern that dominant neo-liberal educational discourses and deficit models of the child limit students’ and teachers’ ability to be heard as knowers in schools. The research was set within the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), which affords young people the right to participate, and Wales where I work as a headteacher, and where the UNCRC is expected to underpin all work with young people. I facilitated weekly Philosophy with Children enquiries with one Year 7 class over an academic year, examining the Community of Enquiry as both a material and a discursive space, influenced by an agential realist theoretical perspective. Observation, the Community of Enquiry, and focused enquiries were employed as methods of engaging with the participants. In my thinking about the material and the discursive, I moved from a traditional qualitative approach to a diffractive methodology. Diffraction also supported me to plug data with the key ideas I engaged with, namely: childism, epistemic injustice and neo-liberalism; and competency narratives of young people provided by the New Sociology of Childhood and the Philosophy of Childhood. At the start of the research, epistemic relations and practices in the class seemed to limit both teacher and student in their ability to share their meaning making voices. Knowledge was presented as already decided, with the job of the teacher to transmit, and the job of the student to absorb. I argued in this space both the teacher and the students were epistemically harmed. Through the introduction of Philosophy with Children, as a participatory practice, teacher and student experienced each other differently. The teacher learnt to hear and value the students’ knowledge, and the students learnt the teacher was genuinely interested in their ideas. Teacher authority/responsibility changed to distributed/shared responsibility between teacher and students. These changes evolved as the teacher critiqued her beliefs about young people, and her understanding of how neo-liberal priorities impacted on her ability to teach and listen in ways that supported the students as epistemic agents. However, the teacher continued to feel constrained by the accountability culture she works within, and consequently suggested that the things she had learnt about her students, and about herself, were unlikely to have any lasting impact on the way she taught.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy, Children
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Institute of Education and Humanities
Institutes and Academies > Institute of Education and Humanities > Academic Discipline: Childhood and Education
Depositing User: Sandra Stedman
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2020 10:25
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2020 10:59
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1245

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