Transitions: From novice participation to expertise, pre-school 'matters' in an Irish pre-school community

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Date
2015
Authors
Clerkin, Frances Mary
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University College Cork
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Abstract
This in depth, qualitative, participant observer study tracks children's transition experiences from novice to experienced membership of their pre-school community. It also considers adult roles in mediating this process in the context of the recent introduction of a universal free-pre-school year for children growing up in Ireland. Participation and the space to negotiate a participatory identity is understood in this study as a key element of positive experiences of early years transitions, within pre-school and beyond. The underlying theoretical framework is socio-cultural. This approach shifts from a scientific positivist view of thinking and learning as an individual inside the head process and asserts the historical, social, cultural as well as the situated context of learning and meaning making All participants, including myself as researcher, are recognised, explored and valued as embedded in the cultural context studied. In a sense, this approach tilts the worlds being observed through participation in them and reflects them in new light. The aim is to interpret and reflect the multiple realities constructed in this context rather than seek a truth out there waiting to be found. Special efforts are made to be invited in to and acknowledge children's expertise in the cultural worlds they negotiate with peers and adults in pre-school. The aim is to better understand what children may find motivating, interesting or problematic as they interpret reproduce and transform meaning within their play and learning worlds. My aim is for an honest rendering of the voices of stakeholders in pre-school communities from teachers, parents, and policy makers to children themselves. It makes visible constraints; potentials and possibilities within everyday Irish pre-school practices in the situated context studied as well as the broader societal, legislative and macro policy influences it reflects. Casting light on the taken for granted opens the possibility of adaptation or transformation. Transition itself can act as a tool to meet the changing needs of children on their developmental pathways across the life cycle
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Keywords
Transitions , Community of practice , Participatory identities , Children's cultural worlds
Citation
Clerkin, F. M. 2014. Transitions: From novice participation to expertise, pre-school 'matters' in an Irish pre-school community. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.