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Margin|Centre: Towards a Dialectic View of Participation.

One of the central challenges for researchers is to understand what happens inside classrooms that make the environment available for children's learning. In this paper we adopt and further develop the margin|centre dialectic as a general framework for describing participation of very young children in science-related activities. In this study, we employ a cultural-historical approach that goes beyond the classical theories and allows us to see learning as participation of very young children through a dialectical lens. We suggest that the contradictions inherent in the concept of participation can be examined through the metaphor of the dialectical union of margin and centre, which, as all dialectical units, embodies contradictions that constitute the drivers of change. We analyse the events in a classroom of four-year children in a public Brazilian kindergarten school focusing on the interactions that occur during a hands-on activity about a physical world phenomenon exploration. The case study shows us that (a) young children's participation is more than following teacher's instruction, (b) learning is a process of change in and through concrete social practice, and (c) viewed through the metaphor of margin and centre, participation and learning are constituted dialectically between individual and collective.

Goulart, M. I. M., & Roth, W.-M. (in press). Margin|centre: Towards a dialectic view of participation. Journal of Curriculum Studies.

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