Learning from below: A micro-ethnographic account of children's self-determination as sociopolitical and intellectual action

Natalie R. Davis*, Shirin Vossoughi, John F. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper argues for an amplification of the everyday intellectual and political gestures of children as valuable indices and movers of learning. We identify and focus on microacts of self-determination, defined here as, “as contestations and moves to elsewhere that shift activity and dictate future status”. In particular, we consider if and how such microacts that could be cast as idiosyncratic build and shape new possibilities for learning and social interaction, what we refer to here as learning from below. Learning from below reflects an effort to move beyond the binary of individual versus collective activity and to situate scholarship on social and historical movements and forms of decolonial insurgency as germane to sociocultural and interactional studies of learning. Drawing from an extensive data set which included ethnographic fieldnotes, semi-structured interviews, and over 70 hours of video data collected from an after-school community tinkering program, we found that children's everyday forms of self-determination were much more than individual acts; they emerge from social histories and carried future potentialities that shaped learning and intellectual life within the setting. This central finding is anchored in an analysis of over 600 examples, as well as two cases that look more closely at individual children's participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100373
JournalLearning, Culture and Social Interaction
Volume24
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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