“the Less Smelly Bathroom”: The Scape of Children from Symbolic Violence in the Classroom

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Ivan FERREIRA, University of Brasilia, Brazil
Ingrid Dittrich WIGGERS, University of Brasilia, Brazil
This study aimed to analyze the children’s perceptions about their favorite places at school. The results are part of a master's thesis. We selected a 5th grade class from a full-time public elementary school with a traditional institutional model in Brasilia, Brazil. Twenty-five children between 8-11 years old participated. The classroom was warm and too small; the children had a low mobility and the teacher used to give a myriad of orders to them. Data were collected through the children’s drawings regarding the theme: "My favorite place at school". We also asked each child to explain his/her drawing. We highlight responses from two 10-year-old girls. Both represented the bathroom as their preferred place. The first girl replied: "The bathroom is my favorite place because I can express my emotions there. For example, when I am sad, I use to cry alone to feel better. In the classroom I cannot express my feelings, because everybody asks me and this bothers me”. The second girl said: "I like the bathroom, because I can cry alone there. I feel more comfortable there. When I am humiliated by someone else, I want to be alone". The last girl also reported that she chooses a specific bathroom in the school, one that does not smell too bad so she can express her feelings more easily. The symbolic violence in the context of the classroom acts directly on children who, in turn, try to react to it. In the process to react to that violence, the bathroom became the only space where they can truly express their feelings. We consider that the school with a traditional model keep using elements of the symbolic violence and it generates children's aversion to the learning environment when, in fact, this environment should be welcoming to them.