Teaching for Active Citizenship: Personal Epistemology and Practices in Early Education Classrooms

Lunn Brownlee, Jo, Johansson, Eva, Walker, Susan, & Scholes, Laura (2017) Teaching for Active Citizenship: Personal Epistemology and Practices in Early Education Classrooms. Routledge, New York.

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Abstract

Chapter 1 Active Citizenship, values education and personal epistemology

  • While investment in young children is recognised as important for the development of citizenship for a cohesive society, less is known about how early years teachers can promote this in the classroom. This chapter overviews the research which provides important insights into teaching moral values for active citizenship. We introduce the perspective of teaching practices for moral values in active citizenship and then the personal epistemology framework that underpins this book. Active citizenship requires children to experience and internalise moral and democratic values and human rights, and develop their own opinions and moral responsibility however, the early years have been neglected in research on active citizenship. This is despite the early years being an international priority and of significant policy concern (Harcourt & Hägglund, 2013; Johansson & Thornberg, 2014b). We argue for a rights-based teaching approach in which education for citizenship has to be education of the critical spirit (Giddens, 2000). Research suggests that investment in the early years is vital for all learning (Cuhna & Heckman, 2006), and specifically for developing understanding of active citizenship for tolerant and cohesive societies (Howe & Covell, 2009; Invernizzi & Williams, 2008).

Chapter 2 Personal epistemologies in the context of teaching and learning about moral values

  • While there is a focus on values education in Australia, and internationally, what is less clear is how such education might support children to become active and responsible citizens who reflect critically on oppressive and exploitive conditions. To date, values education has often been based on psychological or developmental views with only more recent research focusing on how social contexts influence learning of moral values as well as research in the broader disciplines of social and biological sciences. We argue that part of this social context involves teachers and their engagement in critical reflection, which is linked to beliefs about knowing and knowledge (or personal epistemologies). Personal epistemologies are likely to influence critical reflection and teaching practices generally and we argue that this relationship between beliefs, critical reflection and practice may be important in teaching for active citizenship. In this chapter we overview the research related to teachers’ personal epistemologies and make a case for its significance in promoting teaching practices for learning moral values. We also examine the research related to children’s personal epistemologies.

Chapter 3 Teachers’ personal epistemologies and teaching practices for learning moral values

  • One way to understand more about how teachers support learning moral values for active citizenship in early years classrooms is to focus on the relationship between teachers’ personal epistemologies and their teaching practices. This chapter considers the relationships between teachers’ personal epistemologies, teachers’ beliefs about teaching moral values and the nature of teachers’ practices for active citizenship in early years education classrooms (aged 5 to 8 years). Drawing on a holistic personal epistemological framework, research related to the nature of teaching practices for moral values as well as the relationships between such practices and teachers’ personal epistemologies in early years education classrooms (aged 5 to 8 years) are explored.

Chapter 4 Children’s personal epistemologies

  • In this chapter, we focus on children’s personal epistemologies within “Teaching practices for learning moral values: A holistic personal epistemological framework”. We examine the nature of children’s personal epistemologies using research from a large scale longitudinal study of children’s personal epistemologies and moral reasoning. The focus was on understanding children’s views that something could be both right and wrong. Children’s justifications for why something could be both right and wrong showed that they acknowledged different perspectives and indicated elements of subjectivity and absolutist personal epistemologies. Complexity was evident in some absolutist responses which suggested emerging subjectivities. The findings in this chapter support the idea that children’s personal epistemologies for active citizenship need to be considered as part of the broader school context. It is likely that when teachers view knowledge as constructed and reasoned through a process of analysing evidence from different sources, including the children in their classrooms, they may be more likely to believe that teaching should engage children in actively constructing and enacting their own understandings of what it means to be an active citizen. However, using a holistic personal epistemological framework, an important aspect is how teachers’ personal epistemologies and teaching practices relate to children’s personal epistemologies.

Chapter 5 Epistemic climates for teaching moral values: A holistic approach

  • In this chapter we further explore research which has drawn on the holistic personal epistemological framework to explore the relationships between teachers’ personal epistemologies and their practices for teaching moral values, children’s personal epistemologies and school contexts. The epistemic climates of two Year 1 Australian classrooms are explored using case study methodology. Children’s personal epistemologies for learning of moral values were explored by investigating their responses about social inclusion during scenario-based interviews. Teachers were interviewed and their classroom interactions observed to gain insights into their personal epistemologies and teaching practices for moral values. Their practices were explored by considering the extent to which they supported children to reflect critically and to be active and responsible participants. Finally, school documents related to values education philosophies and practices were examined. This chapter argues for a whole of school approach to personal epistemology and teaching practices for learning moral values. The intention is to explore, holistically, the overall epistemic climate for teaching moral values for active citizenship in each of the schools.

Chapter 6 Promoting personal epistemologies for learning moral values: Implications for active citizenship

  • An understanding of teachers’ personal epistemologies may help to shed new light on how teachers might enact a range of teaching practices for learning of moral values in active citizenship. If teaching practices which value children as competent and agentic learners are mediated by personal epistemologies, this may have implications for teachers’ and children’s learning experiences. In this final chapter, we overview the theoretical and empirical contributions we have made throughout this book and then discuss in-depth some possible ways in which we might support evaluativistic personal epistemologies for learning of moral values in active citizenship.

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ID Code: 96037
Item Type: Book
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Personal epistemology, Early Childhood Education, Teachers' personal epistemology, Active citizenship
DOI: 10.4324/9781315757117
ISBN: 9781138797475
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
Funding:
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 Taylor & Francis
Deposited On: 12 Jun 2016 23:04
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 04:10

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