Spatially Democratic Pedagogy: A pedagogical intervention to support children's design and co-creation of classroom space. A new trajectory for Froebel's Kindergarten Spaces?

 

                                                            Jennifer Clement

                                                   Canterbury Christ Church University 

 

The Foundation Phase curriculum framework was introduced by the Welsh Government in 2010 (and revised in 2015). It applies to all children aged 3 to 7 years in Wales and includes a number of additional pedagogies and rights based approaches that support more participatory understandings of learning and the child (WG, 2015). However, these additional pedagogies are expected to be played out within existing constructions of space. Dominated by continuous provision, these spaces are to be provided by teachers and aim to offer a variety of learning areas for children to explore including sand, water, writing, construction, role play. Recently rebranded as "Learning Zones" (Taylor et al, 2015), these spaces are becoming increasingly structured around a centralised concept of space, activity and outcome, creating a paradox by framing both space and pedagogy as prescribed and not participatory.

 

In response to this paradoxical positioning of the child as participant within pre-defined spaces, this PhD explores Spatially Democratic Pedagogy (Clement, 2017), a seven stage design process developed to support children in the design and co-creation of their classroom spaces. The project is pragmatic and sits within a Design Based Research frame (Reimann, 2011) aiming to, “solve real-world problems through the design, enactment and analysis of an intervention” (DBR Collective, 2003). Froebel's communal gardens (Froebel, 1899) are used as the pedagogical blueprint and are reflected through recent sociomaterial (Fenwick, 2011) and democratic (Moss, 2014) understandings of learning and space. Spatially Democratic Pedagogy is positioned as an additional (not alternative) construction of classroom space to support children's participation in their learning and as a new trajectory for Froebelian principles and practice within the Foundation Phase. 

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