Children As Storytellers. Migrant Narratives in Primary Schools

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:50
Oral Presentation
Angela SCOLLAN, Middlesex University in London, United Kingdom
Federico FARINI, University of Northampton, United Kingdom
This presentation discusses the results of a research aiming to promote children's narratives of personal and family memories in intercultural ed multilingual classrooms, in collaboration with an adult expert in the use of facilitation, to enhance dialogic intercultural learning. The learning activities observed are part of the SHARMED (Shared Memories and Dialogue) project, funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and coordinated by the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy) in partnership with University of Suffolk (UK) and University of Jena (Germany).

The methodology of SHARMED is centred around Project-Based Workshops (PBWs), applying dialogic teaching to engage children in extended narratives originating from memories elicited by visual materials. As storytellers, migrant-background learners are given a voice, towards their inclusion in the educational context. Dialogic teaching is based on the acknowledgment that children are active participants in constructing social practices (James,Jenks&Prout,1998; Baraldi&Iervese,2014), creating conditions in which all participants can contribute, mutually encouraging each other to participate actively (Mercer&Littleton, 2007).

The presentation focuses on children's narrative concerning experiences of migration and inclusion in the English education system, in particular with concern to the interrelation of language adaptation and participation in the education system. The promotion of children’s narratives support a phenomenological description of their life-world. The discussion will develop around the main themes emerging from children's narratives: 1) the ambiguous status of native language vis-a-vis the language of education and peer-relationship; 2) dynamics of marginalisation based on system's expectation of failure, and children's rejection of sch categorisation through active participation in peer-groups, 3) the multicultural classroom as a social space where migrant (and non-migrant) children become agents of cultural hybridization and social. The presentation concludes by asking how far these narrated experiences challenge hegemonic representations of children as inhabiting spaces of marginality in society.