Children’s proximal societal conditions

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Inspired from especially Danish/German critical psychology but also from John Dewey’s ethical, educational and psychological thoughts, this presentation will elaborate on an understanding of the dialectic between an ethical society, -school and -theory. To this aim I will argue for and unfold the conceptualization of children’s “proximal societal conditions”. Throughout different research projects in which children’s everyday life in different daycare settings and in schools has been studied, it becomes clear that ‘the societal’ is not something that is above or outside the institutional setting or the children’s everyday life, but something that is represented through societal structures and actual persons participating (in political ways) within the institutional settings, in ways that has meaning to children’s possibilities to participate, learn and develop.

Understanding school or daycare as (part of) the children’s proximal societal conditions for development and learning, means for instance that considerations about an inclusive agenda in a (Danish) welfare state with well-developed school- and daycare system, are no longer simply thoughts about the school having space for as many pupils as possible (schools for all). Such thoughts can or should be supplemented by reflections about which version of ‘the societal’ we wish to present our children with, and which version of ‘the societal’ we wish to set up as the condition for children’s participation and development.

These questions require an ethical theory that allows for discussions on dynamically moving between considering what constitutes an ethical society as a whole and what constitutes ethical schooling within this society.
Translated title of the contributionBørns nærmeste samfundsmæssige betingelser
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateAug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
EventISTP - THE ETHOS OF THEORIZING - Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 21. Aug 201725. Aug 2017


LocationRikkyo University
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