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Title: Building common knowledge : a cultural-historical analysis of pedagogical practices at a rural primary school in Rajasthan, India
Author: Rai, Prabhat
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The centralised control over curriculum framing and pedagogy, the generally poor quality of teaching with little sensitivity to children’s sociocultural environment; and very high drop out rates, even at the primary school level, are some of the challenges facing school education in many of the regions of India. However, one of the successful approaches to these challenges has been the Digantar school system, working in rural communities. The study is based in one Digantar School in Rajasthan and employs concepts derived from the Vygotskian tradition to interrogate the methods employed in Digantar school system. The study took Edwards’ (2010a, 2011, 2012) idea of common knowledge and Hedegaard’s (2008, 2012, 2013) idea of institutional demand in practices as conceptual lenses through which to investigate the components of the pedagogical practices that help Digantar teachers to align the motives of the school with those of the child in classroom activities. In doing so it analyses the institutional practices that lead to the development of common knowledge that in turn facilitates how teachers engage pupils as learners. Data were gathered over six months and comprised around 120 hours of school-based video data together with interviews and detailed observations with teachers and community members. Data were gathered in classrooms, teacher meetings, meetings between parents and teachers and at school-community meetings. Analyses focused on the construction of common knowledge and the use made of it by the school to achieve a mutual alignment of motives between the practices of the school with the community and the families. The study has revealed that teachers’ engagement with the knowledge and motives of other teachers and community members helped to create common knowledge, i.e. an understanding of what mattered for each participating group, which facilitated teaching-learning in the school. The analysis also points towards a form of democracy, which enhances children’s participation in their learning. It was found that building and sharing of common knowledge and creating a socially articulated ‘space of reasons’ (Derry 2008) produced a pedagogical model that engaged children in creating their social situation of development, seeking and recognising the curriculum demands being placed on them.
Supervisor: Edwards, Anne Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education ; Early and Child learning ; Sociocultural and activity theory ; Teaching and teacher education ; Psychology ; Developmental psychology ; Social cognition ; Social disadvantage ; Social Inequality ; common knowledge ; funds of knowledge ; motives ; cultural-historical activity theory ; learning ; primary education ; child development ; space of reasons ; Vygotsky ; Hedegaard