‘Ignorance’ in childhood

Silin (1995) claims that the image of ‘ignorant children’ in early childhood pedagogy places young persons in opposition to the intellectual and competent nature of the mature world as [-p.136] outlined in Piaget’s (Inhelder & Piaget, 1964) constructivist model of child development. Silin (1995) draws on the two definitions of ignorance: the weak sense of ignorance refers to an absence of knowledge, while, in the strong sense, ignorance is a form of confidence and an openness to experiment. Silin (1995) claims that early childhood education uses the weak sense of ignorance, which has numerous consequences for understanding classroom disruption. Seeing young human beings as ignorant can work against young persons’ involvement in their own learning.” (135-136)

Positioning young persons as ignorant curbs their contributions to their own learning, because they are considered unable to decide what knowledge is necessary for them to have and about the ways that knowledge needs to be acquired by them. If young persons are unable to engage in decisions about their own learning, ‘disciplined’ activity, which is performed by implicit reasons and intrinsic values, cannot occur in the classroom. Consequently, teachers will have to resort to two controlling techniques: (1) a constant ‘supervising gaze’ over young persons and their conduct and with that the ‘enforcement’ of ‘appropriate conduct’; and (2) an imposition of an interest and responsibility in their own learning, in which interest is meant to serve as an implicit reason and value for the tasks they are requested to perform.” (136)

Ref: Zsuzsanna J. Millei (2005) ‘The Discourse of Control: disruption and Foucault in an early childhood classroom’ Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, Volume 6, Number 2, pp.128-139

Reference is made to: Inhelder, B. & Piaget, J. (1964) The Early Growth of Logic in the Child: classification and seriation. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.    Silin, J.G. (1995) Sex, Death, and Education of Children. Our Passion for Ignorance in the Age of AIDS. New York: Teachers College Press.


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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