Emergent scaffolding

Children joining an existing classroom need to learn how to receive, influence, and give assistance to others. Child peers may be only slightly more skilled than partners, they may not be consistently more capable, and the affective dynamics of the relationship are important. It seems useful to use Stones’ view of scaffolding as a fluid interpersonal process when exploring young children’s experiences in their first year of school. We have used the term ’emergent scaffolding’ to refer to interaction in which a child attempts to lead a peer to a new perspective or to support a peer’s developing skill.” (20)

During the course of their research, the authors found that “In their first few weeks at school children engaged in a variety of peer-related behaviours, starting with a simple awareness of peers as a source of information, to engaging in social interaction with peers, to receiving assistance and advice from peers, and finally as a provider of scaffolding as new children joined the classroom.” (22) They continue: “It was clear that a rich peer life operated in the new entrant classroom, and also that much of this operated as a sort of ‘underlife’, separate from the official class programme.” (22)

“While it is recognised that many teachers use small groups for curriculum activities, encouraging peer social interactions can also provide opportunities for children to receive assistance and to practise emergent scaffolding skills. … A positive classroom climate in which asking questions is encouraged makes seeking help more likely. Children need to learn how to use other people as resources in positive ways to provide scaffolding for their own learning as well as to scaffold the learning attempts of others.” (23)

The authors conclude: “We found that new entrant children needed to be interacting at a social level before seeking, receiving, or giving help. … Learning is embedded in the whole of classroom life, not just that part of it which is officially directed by a teacher.” (23)

Ref: Alison St. George and Joy Cullen (1999) ‘Social Life and Learning: Peer scaffolding in a new entrant classroom’ Early Childhood Folio 4, pp20-23


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!
This entry was posted in Literate Contexts, Metaphors and Narratives around children and learners, Teaching excellence and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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