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Title: The emotional context of young children's literacy learning
Author: Price, Heather
ISNI:       0000 0001 2415 5574
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis presents findings from an ethnographic, psychoanalytically informed research project which aimed to investigate the emotional context of young children's literacy learning in the final year of the infant school. Using psychoanalytic observational methods, data was gathered over a two year period in an inner city primary school. The author undertook non-participant observation weekly in classroom settings, and also took children of different abilities, singly and in pairs and triads, for individual teaching sessionsD. rawing on a mixture of ethnographica nd psychoanalyticp rinciples, observationatlr anscriptsw ere analysedt o generateg roundedc onceptualisationso f children's, and to a more limited extent, teachers', conscious and unconscious relationshipst o eacho ther and to the learning task. The classroomi s conceptualiseda s an 'inter-psychic' psychosocialf ield which can be researcheqfr om a number of intersecting vantage points. The thesis reviews the relevant psychosocial literature and research on emotionality and children's literacy learning, together with post-Kleinian Object Relations theory as applied to child and learnerd evelopment.I t discussesk ey methodologicald ebates surrounding clinically and observationally based psychoanalytic research. The aims and methodology of the study are discussed and situated in the context of these reviews. The six data chapters focus respectively on teachers, the task of literacy learning, struggling learners, high achievers and middle range achievers. In each chapter, selected observational reports across the time period of the research are presented, and a psychoanalytic account of emotional factors in the learning process is generated. The analysis reveals several key dimensions to the emotional life of an 'ordinary' classroom. Individual case studies show children struggling in relation to the task because of different degreeso f developmentalo r linguistic disadvantagec; hildren capableo f using the 'literacy learning object' to engage in well sublimated imaginative learning and growth; and children using the arena of literacy learning to work through questions of power and gender. The emotional core of the teaching task is shown to centre on the use of authority to establish and maintain order and orderliness; and on a capacity for recognition of children's different and shifting states of mind. The researchin dicatest he potential and the need for a range of emotionally sophisticated capacities in teaching staff if the complex balance between group learning and the needs of individual children is to be maintained. Additionally, the project constitutes a modest advance in the development of professionally relevant psychoanalytic research methodology in micro-social settings
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available