Recognition of Children’s Learning in Educational Research, Policy and Practice: Herbison Invited Lecture, NZARE Annual Conference 2022

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Springer Nature
CC BY 4.0
For Jean Herbison, learning in her early 20th century childhood world was relatively uncomplicated and predictable. Life was shaped by unambiguous family, faith and settler colonial prescriptions about how children should behave and what they should become. Approaching the centenary of her birth, children today must navigate a very different society of ‘unlimited can’; an achievement society that generates a debilitating compulsion to self-improve (Byung Chul-Han). In this Herbison lecture, I offer a personal reflection on the contemporary ‘triangle’ of education research, policy and practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. Viewed as a culturally and historically specific ‘form of life’ (Rahel Jaeggi), I ask whether, over the last thirty five years, this triangle may have unwittingly contributed to a collective failure to give adequate recognition to children’s learning. Despite our best intentions, have we simply reified students and in doing so alienated them from learning in all its complexities and dimensions (Knud Illeris)? More than mere acknowledgement of ‘the other’, recognition theory highlights the importance of socially developed qualities such as confidence, respect and esteem (Axel Honneth) to each child’s capacity to develop meaningful relationships to or ‘resonance’ with an ever accelerating and uncontrollable world (Hartmut Rosa) and the people and communities in it. In practical terms, then, what can we draw on that is already immanent in our research, policy and practice triangle to transform children’s institutionalised learning?
New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 2023