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Understanding children’s views on the perfect school | Bentham Science

2023-11-20
(Press-News.org)

Young Voices Unheard: Children’s Views from Scotland and Greece on Education is a new book published by Bentham Science that attempts to explore the question of how young children view the concepts of Children’s rights.

Giving children an opportunity to voice their ideas on their education is necessary, if we do not want to deprive children of their right to be consulted and their opinions to be listened to and be seriously considered when decisions are made affecting children’s lives (article 12 of the Convention).

The book attempts to give a voice to children aged 5 to 6 years on the education of children their age and then relate these voices to children’s rights as defined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child. More specifically, children’s views on aspects of behavior and rules, learning and play and the physical environment of a school were produced and related to the implementation or not of various provision, protection and participation rights that children are entitled.

The author - Evanthia Synodi – has used a comparative methodology in this work, citing that “it leads to a deeper understanding of education phenomena and the impact of societal factors on them.” Synodi’s work qualitatively focuses on two countries, Scotland and Greece, and each child participated in two focus group sessions.

What the data from both sessions in Scotland and Greece indicates is that articles 12, 19, 28, 29, 31 were important to children in both countries but article 24 was not. They wanted to be consulted when decisions affecting them are made, they wanted to be safe from physical harm, to be educated and to play, but not to eat healthy food. Children not knowing how to claim their place in the decision making process in school suggests that adults need to find ways to better implement article 5 and article 12 at school. Despite the differences in budgets, educational provision and dimensions of their national cultures, the comparative nature of this study indicated two major similarities in children’s views: children’s desire (a) for less control by adults over them and (b) for more play and initiative for children in school, even though they did not deny that they needed guidance from their teachers and that they should learn at school. Throughout the analysis the implementation of article 5 was crucial in accomplishing children acting as right holders became apparent. However, when it comes to young children, like the 5 to 6 year olds participating in this study, one finds that for children to learn that they are right holders and how to be right holders, we need to let them develop and learn through their free play rather than first cripple their freedom (in schools and other environments with no free play or limited play) and then attempt to fix them (the children)! This appears to be problematic in both countries whether the school young children attend is a primary school or a kindergarten.

The findings of this research are particularly useful to teachers as well as policy makers as well as parents and other adults working with young children. Teachers can begin to consider if their practices are similar to the ones children favored or not and attempt to improve them as some of the findings, particularly those in relation to omnipresent control and play, have been recorded by researchers from other countries. Teachers need to consider if they can allow more scope for consultation and children’s participation in decision making, especially when it comes to setting the rules or defining them. Another issue they need to consider is the daily routine and allowing children more time for play and other child initiated activities.

Policy makers can withhold or modify the strictness and rigidness of existing policies, which interfere with the implementation of the children’s rights, other than the right to education, at schools. Children wanting more control over their lives at school is a strong indicator that the predetermined policy and curriculum for young children is overwhelming to many.

Further professional development for teachers as well as policy makers emerges as a significant factor for the creation of a school promoting respect to, protection of and fulfilment of children’s rights. The issue of a healthy diet, that was brought up by the children in focus groups, is another matter that needs to be examined, so that measures can be taken to protect children’s health more effectively.

This book is unique because it researches and relates young children’s views on their education to their rights, because these children attend schools in Scotland and Greece, which had not been done before, and because it employs the method of focus groups for the production of data. For Synodi, studies on comparative education have proven to be a worthwhile endeavour.

Learn more about the book here: https://bit.ly/47yXhnz

 

About Editor:

Dr. Evanthia Synodi is an associate professor of Comparative Preschool Education at the University of Crete, Greece. She was educated as a kindergarten teacher at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 2001. She is interested in Comparative Education, children’s rights, play, antiracist education, initial teacher education and early childhood education.

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[Press-News.org] Understanding children’s views on the perfect school | Bentham Science