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Robi Kroflič. RECOGNITION OF THE CHILD AS CAPABLE BEING – THE FOUNDATION OF EDUCATION IN THE SPIRIT OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS. Aims of lecture:.

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robi krofli

Robi Kroflič

RECOGNITION OF THE CHILD AS CAPABLE BEING – THE FOUNDATION OF EDUCATION IN THE SPIRIT OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

aims of lecture
Aims of lecture:
  • to show why it is urgent to reach an educational approaches, that are based on well balanced support of all of three clusters of children’s rights (for protection, provision and participation)
  • to prove, that especially for supporting children’s rights for participation, recognition of the child as pro-socially oriented and morally capable being is very important corrective of the concept of distributive justice
  • to describe three contemporary approaches that promote an image of “rich child” and are therefore educational concept that are based on the logic of children’s rights: pedagogy of listening in Reggio Emilia approach, inductive approach to moral education in To-Gather project, and use of art
how to understand inner logic of the convention on the rights of the children
How to understand inner logic of the Convention on the rights of the children?
  • Convention on the rights of the children is built on the concept of three clusters of children’s needs: for protection, provision and participation
  • So the accomplishment of the central goal of education in the spirit of children’s rightsis strongly connected with searching for the balance between the protection and participation, and provision of stimulative educational environment
how to understand inner logic of the convention on the rights of the children1
How to understand inner logic of the Convention on the rights of the children?
  • the very fact that we speak about special rights of children contains a FIRST DANGER, that we look at the children as simply more vulnerable beings than adult persons, which can lead to oppressive paternalism
  • THE OPPOSITE DANGER is connected with too big emphasis on children’s freedom of choices, which leads to lack of the sense of belonging and safety and changes our tendency to freedom into the liberal pressure toward free choices as moral obligations of living in the consumers’ society
how to understand inner logic of the convention on the rights of the children2
How to understand inner logic of the Convention on the rights of the children?
  • we can conclude that for a healthy development children need a well balanced provision of all three clusters of rights, because both described threats (of oppressive paternalism and lack of ontological security) are a serious danger for their psychological stability and the development of identity.
my personal experience on the importance of this warning
My personal experience on the importance of this warning

An ethnographical note: A change of a playing corner

“Since children no longer play with dolls, we decided that we will change the babies corner it into a beauty parlour. When I told them that (‘motivation to act’), Saša reacted: ‘Leave the babies corner as it is, Marija plays there every day. She loves babies, she loves them so much she’ll have nine of her own when she grows up.” (Marija is a handicapped child!) We left the nook as it was, and arranged a beauty parlour elsewhere.”

my personal experience on the importance of this warning1
My personal experience on the importance of this warning

I have to admit that it took me seven years of study to return to this “peak experience” with at least some sensible theoretical solutions. But what is more important, this ethnographical note has warn me that we should never treat a pre-school child as incapable, egoistic being who should be simply protected with formal rules and motivated to follow adult’s examples of noble moral acting. Saying in other words, it was a warning to treat children as subjects of moral decisions and legal rights!

children s rights and the question of justice in education
Children’s rights and the question of justice in education
  • Rawls concept of distributive justice is the most known political concept, relevant also for the protection of children’s rights
  • recognition of the child as socially and cognitively capable being is a kind of precondition for asserting of children’s rights for participation
  • as Nancy Fraser stresses out, proper recognition of every person should be seen as the important extension of rawlsean concept of distributive justice
how to understand recognition
How to understand recognition?
  • Recognition becomes a crucial moral task of educator when we accept the hypothesis, that our identities are formed in dialogue with others, in agreement or struggle with their recognition of us
  • But every form of recognition is not good for the development of the child, as well as every relation is not necessarily good, because domination is as relational as love.
how to understand recognition1
How to understand recognition?
  • in education we can trace different modes of inappropriate recognition of the child and therefore also unjust educational practices:
    • cultural domination (being required to assimilate),
    • nonrecognition (being rendered invisible),
    • and disrespect (being routinely maligned).
  • specially young children are very vulnerable for different modes of inappropriate recognition (historic images of the child - from child’s invisibility (rejection of the child as different being as adult person) to our expectation that the child is born as “incomplete being”, “sinful and egoistic being”, “irrational being” )
how to understand recognition2
How to understand recognition?
  • Mechanism of the projection causes that we are looking to the child through our subjective theories, so to assure a proper recognition of the child we need to stress out ethical and political consciousness of the educator

»When we recognize another, or when we ask for recognition for ourselves, we are not asking for an Other to see us as we are, as we already are, as we have always been, as we were constituted prior the encounter itself. Instead, in the asking, in the petition, we have already become something new, since we are constituted by virtue of the address, a need and desire for the Other... It is also to stake one's own being and one's own persistence in one's own being, in the struggle for recognition.«

(Judith Buttler)

how to understand recognition3
How to understand recognition?
  • two dimensions of recognition:
    • as a political request for just acceptance of one’s social status,
    • or as the ethical request for affirmation of individual’s identity which is a necessary part of optimal educational encounter and human flourishing
how to understand recognition4
How to understand recognition?
  • three different roles of recognition:
    • a concept that emphasize our commitment for personal confirmation of a child (recognition as confirmation – Martin Buber),
    • our willingness to reject oppressive modes of subjections (like looking at the child as incapable being – Judith Buttler) ,
    • and finally to accept the fact that recognition is ongoing reciprocal encounter (Jessica Benjamin)
from different concepts of recognition we can extrapolate further concrete duties of pedagogue
From different concepts of recognition we can extrapolate further concrete duties of pedagogue:
  • To be treated in a spirit of children’s rights, child has a right to be accepted as the worthy being (recognition as confirmation)
  • To enable child’s potentials for active engagement in decision making we have to build an image of rich child that is possible to step into active relations with adult persons (recognition as rejection of oppressive modes of subjections)
  • Pedagogical relation is reciprocal encounter so as we help the child in enabling him positive recognition, the child is also giving us the opportunity for growth of our personality and development of professional and personal identity.
pedagogy of listening
Pedagogy of listening

“Among the goals of our approach is to reinforce each child’s sense of identity through a recognition that comes from peers and adults, so much so that each one would feel enough sense of belonging and self-confidence to participate in activities of the school.” (Loris Malaguzzi)

“Listening is a metaphor for openness to others... Listening therefore means giving value to the other…” (Carlina Rinaldi)

slide16

Listening to the child is not only important because of our right to speak and be heard but also because we can know ourselves – that is our unconscious pre-judgments, prejudices and habits - only if we know others different of ourselves. So if we really want to spread the idea of education through the concept of children’s rights, we have to step further from political concept of rights to philosophical concepts of the development of human’s mind.

  • Listening is therefore the premise for any learning relationship, because in representing our theories, we ‘re-cognize’ them, so understanding is generated through sharing and dialogue. The same phenomenon we can find in the process of artistic imagination…
inductive educational approach
Inductive educational approach
  • Thesis on special discipline approach that can be called “inductive approach” was first elaborated in late sixties by Martin Hoffman
  • Hoffman’s approach of empathy as a source of pro-social emotions enabled him to restore a thesis that empathy is the first source of moral competencies of the child in very early developmental period which can influence successfully further development of emotional, motivational and cognitive capacities for moral decision making and acting.
slide18

with this basic statement Hoffman confirmed Levinas thesis about the responsibility toward the Face of the other as pre-ethical condition of moral acting

  • to speak about new educational concept/paradigm inductive method has to be widened to different types of activities and theoretically expanded with profound anthropological ideas. For this purpose I have spread the idea of inductive approach to Levinas concept of responsibility, M. Klein, S. Tood, N. Eisenberg and K. Kristjansson concepts of pro-social emotions and my own concept of self-limited authority of the teacher
t hree steps model of inductive educational methodic
Three steps model of inductive educational methodic
  • The child is in his or her first years capable of relations of love and friendship, therefore pedagogy supporting those relationships enables the child to develop relational response-ability and normative agency for pro-social activities in a most authentic way.
  • Because personal engaged relations may be as well harmful, the next important focus is to develop the sense of respect toward concrete persons or activities.
  • Last step of moral education is to become aware of ethical principles and humanistic demands, especially concerning human rights and ecological values.
slide20

the proposed model should not be understood as a step model of classical linear development (like Kohlberg’s model of the development of moral reasoning) because every phase of the model remains important for morality even when the next developmental step is reached…

  • the best way of using the inductive model of moral development is within an inclusive school environment and not only as an abstract learning of solving moral dilemmas in the classroom.
role of art
Role of art
  • as we can speak about authentic relationships (like love and friendship) that provoke child’s pro-social behavior, art (as one of the most authentic human’s activities) can foster the same attitude with compassioned imagination
  • art can be used in the processes of inductive approach in different roles, like:
    • a motivational tool for opening the senses for moral dilemmas,
    • as a source of ethical knowledge
    • and also as a kind of “cross-over” – a medium for binding cultural and emotional gaps between children
slide22
What does this widened inductive approach to moral education mean for education in the spirit of children’s rights?
  • it is the approach that is focused on all of three important dimensions of the process of recognition: on confirmation of Other, on rejection of oppressive modes of subjections, and on acceptance of the fact that recognition is an ongoing reciprocal encounter
  • with an emphasis on authentic relationships and activities we can enable a child’s sense of security, but also his willingness to be an active subject of activities that help him/her to build his/her personal construction of meaningful knowledge
  • with limiting our paternalistic tendencies to be the ultimate moral judges, we enable the space to the child to strengthen his pro-social motivation, but also social skills for being able to answer to the call of other person for help, or for improving the situation of moral conflict that was caused with his/her disrespectful act.
slide23

“…we promote opportunities for pro-social behaviour, for growing reflection of conflicts, and possibilities for common living on the basis of active tolerance, where empowerment of individual position of everyone and commitment to pro-social behaviour are the mill stones of our identity. We should stay inside the framework of human rights and enforce weaker ‘should obligations’ to respect human rights to become stronger ‘must moral imperatives’.”

(Kroflič and Kratsborn 2006, AgoraDispute)

“This project links the tiny little things inside myself with the great stuff.”

(Maria Peña, student from Lisbon, 15 years old)