Children's constructive social worlds: Existential lives in the balance
Committee ChairMoll, Luis C.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThough children are capable of describing themselves and their lives in candid and lucid fashion (e.g., Coles, 1970), their voices are easily supplanted or discredited by the adult (Cahan, Mechling, Sutton-Smith, & White, 1993). A similar phenomenon, girls' loss of self-identity and voice, has been studied by Gilligan (1982). The research design of this dissertation, a qualitative, phenomenological approach, facilitates the documentation of children's social worlds. Extensive observations, interviews, home visits, monolingual and bilingual dialogue journal interactions, and a researcher as "peer" role are among the methodological tools used to provide a panoramic of Mexican and Mexican American language minority children's social worlds. Additionally, the dissertation has been guided by an interdisciplinary approach to the study of children's social worlds and inner lives. This approach is reflected in the dissertation itself, as found, for example, in the following chapters: A Socio-Historic Perspective to Understanding the Development of Childhood in South Tucson, Arizona; A Phenomenological Approach to the Construction of Reality; An Ecological Approach to Human Development and its Social Context; Bronfenbrenner's Ecology of Human Development; and Consequences of El'konin's Theoretical Premise. Children's social worlds or peer cultures are at worst viewed pejoratively, as inferior subcultures, especially for minority children. This perception is misleading, inferring that these worlds are necessarily insignificant and detrimental to the child (Marsh, Rosser & Harre, 1978). Within the many social worlds children create for themselves and those which they participate in, children gain vital knowledge and create networks of support crucial to their development and survival as humans. Those worlds are evidenced in ecological environments where children lead creative, meaningful, and sometimes problematic lives. The educational and societal potential for understanding those social worlds lies in its contributions to the development and practice of pedagogically relevant theory.
Degree ProgramLanguage, Reading & Culture