London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Changing professional practice: A sociology of childhood for the right of children to participate

Author(s) Manuela Ferreira and Maria Emília Vilarinho  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2000  
Editor Alistair Ross, Curricula for Citizenship in Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
Comments: For epistemological and pedagogic reasons our courses (in the subject of 'Introduçao r Sociologia' - Introduction to Sociology - in the Degree of 'Ciencias da Educaçao' - Education Sciences of the University of Oporto, and in the subject of 'Sociologia da Educaçao - Sociology of Education - in the Degree of Education and in the baccalaureate of Childhood Education offered by the University of Minho) assume the child to be an agent and a social actor: but we have found that this has been met with great resistance by our students. Because of this we have systematically collected students' accounts of representations and memories about children and childhood (between 1995-1999). This paper is based on an analysis of these accounts, and aims to identify the structural and structuring characteristics our students use to construct their concept of the child and of childhood, as well as the different underlying notions which shape a particular notion of citizensh! ip. Discussing the basis of the arguments and justifications for these conceptions enables us to identify their epistemological limitations, especially those of a naturalistic and ethnocentristic type that are determined by reference to the adult world. The paper also argues that, at the level of training for the childhood teaching profession, the introduction of sociological reflection which makes use of students' representations and memories, linked to the recognition of children as social agents and actors, leads towards the basis of a new paradigm in education in which the right of children to participate will be assumed as a right of children within their practice of active citizenship

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