Observing Inclusion, examples from Reggio Emilia

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsKeynoteResearch


Shifting the frame of observation from linguistic deficit to display of agency
Migrant children’s participation in interactions with adults and peers in early years settings can be hindered by their limited knowledge of the host language. Mainstream pedagogical literature suggests that education should prioritise improvement of language competence and positive intercultural relationships for the inclusion of migrant children. However, I argue that the focus on linguistic competence positions migrant children in a condition of deficit, limiting the observation of their participation to linguistic production. If the frame of observation shifts from linguistic competence to communication competence, and if expectations shifts from migrant children’s deficit to the recognition and promotion of their agency, a different image of migrant children emerges. This is an image of migrant children as competent participants in communication, who can produce and act knowledge. The contribution concludes suggesting that a shift in the frame of observation from linguistic deficit to display of agency entails two consequences:
1) approaching linguistic difficulties of migrant children by promoting their participation in communication, recognising their agency as legitimate authors of valid knowledge. This may be an alternative to specialised programs of language learning or promotion of bilingualism;
2) emphasising personal expressions and identities that limit the risk of cultural essentialism, therefore promoting more complex social constructions of migrant children’s identity.

Period22 Oct 2022
Held atTACTYC: Association for Professional Development in Early Years, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational