03 SES 05, Education and Childhood: From Current Certainties to New Visions
Some critics argue that ‘child centred education’ has been superseded by a subject-driven and target led approach, one in which the child’s interests and ideas have been marginalised and where teachers have become mere technicians. For others child centred education embodies ‘a particular modernist understanding of the child, as a unified, reified and essentialised subject – at the centre of the world – that can be viewed and treated apart from relationships and context’ (Dahlberg et al, 2007, p. 43). From this perspective it is suggested that child centred education may mask the cultural and social diversity that shapes the lives of children and their families and has little if anything to do with children at the cultural and economic margins of society and in particular those at risk of social and educational disadvantage. Drawing on recent research and policy statements, this paper aims to unravel some of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding child centred education in theory and in practice. It will draw also on Bernstein’s early work on visible and invisible pedagogies (Bernstein, 1975) and more recent instantiations of this in his articulation of competence and performance modes (Bernstein, 2000).
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