Name: Bansen, Helen
Main Topic: ET
APA Citation: Quennerstedt, A, & Quennerstedt, M. (2013). Researching children’s rights in education: Sociology of childhood encountering educational theory. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 35(1), 115-132.
Summary: This paper takes a theoretical approach to understanding how children exist in terms of education and educational theory. By studying several texts on the subject, the authors are able to compare and contrast the work of scholars who study the sociology of childhood and those who are experienced in educational theory. The authors straddle the line between understanding children as full-status humans, while simultaneously experiencing the process of becoming adults. Putting value in both the child’s immaturity and at the same time, honoring that learning is a lifelong process allows the authors to eliminate the false dichotomy that children are either being or becoming full-status humans.
Evaluation: This paper functions primarily as a literature review, and is therefore a secondary text. This allows the authors a full range of discussion topics, exploring both the sociology of childhood and childhood-based educational theory. Their discussion of the general changes in the role of the child through recent decades provides a good foothold to move forward, and their discussion of formal education as a human right lends context to the later arguments. Citing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, they represent the child as being competent and therefore deserving of rights, but then make the accusation that this theory has not been challenged in research, and therefore needs more exploration. By juxtaposing later writings against John Dewey’s 1916 and 1938 writings on the topic, the authors drive home that the either/or dichotomous relationship that has previously existed, forcing children to be either already fully-formed or immature, this paper is able to recognize and legitimize that children exist in both spheres, and that this makes them more similar, rather than different from, adults, since learning and growth are a lifelong process, and no one is ever completely done learning.