A cry to teach for social justice: linking early childhood education, participatory action research and children's literature

Hawkins, Karen (2010) A cry to teach for social justice: linking early childhood education, participatory action research and children's literature. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

Text (Introductory Pages)

Download (74Kb)
Text (Whole Thesis)

Download (21Mb)


This study examined the use of children’s literature as a vehicle to teach for social justice. It was conducted in two preschool settings that provided noncompulsory,
prior to formal school years’ care in a town on the Queensland coast of Australia. Five early childhood educators, two groups of preschoolers (aged between
three and five years) and the researcher were involved in the participatory action research study which included a 10 week orientation phase and an 11 week action
research phase.

The study was underpinned by the recognition paradigm of social justice which argues that marginalisation and exploitation result from inequitable and inadequate recognition of difference. With this paradigm in mind, the study was framed within a participatory worldview, critical theory and socio-constructivist perspectives. Participatory action research aligns with these perspectives and was used in this study to produce knowledge and improve practice collaboratively in the
two preschool settings through the direct involvement of the early childhood educators as co-researchers.

Through cyclical, critically reflective analysis of weekly videotaped storytime sessions, the co-researchers found that the judicious use of children’s literature worked as an appropriate pedagogical strategy to teach for social justice. The study heightened preschoolers’ awareness and understandings of, and sensitivities to, social justice issues related to difference, diversity and human dignity
and it transformed their language regarding these issues from exclusivity to inclusivity.

The study concluded that teaching for social justice should begin in the early years and the use of children’s literature is an appropriate medium to do so. Such
pedagogy should help preschoolers to develop an appreciation of and respect for difference and diversity. A further conclusion of this study was that participatory
action research is a collaborative and socially just mode of inquiry that values and acts upon the knowledge, skills, expertise and voices of those involved to create
positive change.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 8376
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Education
Supervisors: Henderson, Robyn
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2010 04:58
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2016 02:19
Uncontrolled Keywords: early childhood education; teaching for social justice; children’s literature
Fields of Research : 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2201 Applied Ethics > 220104 Human Rights and Justice Issues
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130102 Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori)
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/8376

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only