Pedagogy, class and culture : a study of young children's learning at home and school
This study investigates the home and school learning of a sample of sixteen four year- old children who started school in a working-class neighbourhood in an English provincial town in September 1997. The children, from English and Bangladeshi families, are viewed as embedded cases within a single case study of a Reception class. The study uses mixed qualitative and quantitative methods, within a broadly ethnographic approach, to describe the children's learning in their families, and to monitor their progress throughout the Reception year. The children's attainments were assessed at age 4, when they entered school, and again the following July. The study constructs and analyses its data on the children's learning within a framework of concepts derived from the social theories of Basil Bernstein and Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu's concepts of habitus and the forms of capital are used to describe and analyse the ways in which children acquire their individual 'systems of dispositions' towards learning in their families. Bernstein's theory of pedagogic discourse is employed to compare the curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation practised in children's homes with that of their Reception classroom. Both theorists attribute the differential educational and social success of children from different backgrounds to the symbolic control which transmits broad macro power relations into socialising institutions such as families and schools. The thesis focuses in turn on: the habitus and capital of individual families within their social and ethnic groups; the curriculum and pedagogy of children's homes; the pedagogic discourse of the classroom; children's adaptation to school, and attainments on entry; and their Reception progress and outcomes. Throughout the thesis a series of individual case studies illustrates the ways in which the regulative and instructional discourses of home and school influence children's social and cognitive development, and their school achievement.