25 SES 05, Concepts in Children’s Rights Discourse: the ‘Learner’, ‘Vulnerability’ and ‘Growth’
This paper reports on the first preliminary results from a larger study that investigates perceptions of children’s rights and the role of education for children’s rights. One of the questions posed in the study is how the child is constructed as a holder of rights in early childhood education and school. The study examines both how teachers construct children as rights subjects, and how children construct themselves as rights subjects. This paper focuses on the latter.
The study draws theoretically on a combination of sociological, political philosophical and educational thinking. The theorising within the sociology of childhood has together with children’s rights thinking been a catalyst for a changing view of children and childhood. From such a changed viewpoint, children’s position in society has been problematised, and children as active contributors in the various setting where they reside has been given attention. The study’s children’s rights approach is based on the idea of civil, political and social human rights, and that children are equally to other humans holders of all three rights categories. The study’s view on the relation between children’s human rights and education draws on John Dewey’s educational philosophy, particularly on his concept of education as ‘growth’.
With the theoretical standpoint taken in the study it becomes important to upgrade children’s role in and contribution to society’s knowledge production, in this case in research. The examination of how children are constructed as holders of rights in education can accordingly not only seek the constructions of adult stakeholders, equally important are children’s constructions. The study has therefore actively included children as sources and producers of knowledge. Children between age 1 and 12 have participated in various ways, depending on their respective communication habits and preferences.
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