Childhood is for every child. It is marked by age and being. However, it is also the turning of a child into a gendered subject. The privileges of innocence and ignorance also bring in tow the hegemony of the adult and its ideology. Concordantly, children become the miniature ground for adult politics. In other words, turning children into gendered subjects, the society ensures its own longevity in terms of norms and codes of behaviour and social status or space. As a result, childhood becomes a prey of gender politics. On the other hand, class politics operate upon a child, declaring childhood to be a luxury. The coupling of gender and class brings to fore the marginalised state of a working class girl child.
Mhairi Cowden and Joanne C. Lau
The terms capacity and competence play a central role in moral and political philosophy by determining the moral status of a subject. More specifically, they play a primary role in the determination of rights, especially in the literature on children’s rights. Despite their importance, these terms are often used interchangeably, or not defined at all. This leads to confusion regarding their application and significance, particularly when using the terms to determine the rights of the child. In this chapter, we propose a distinction between capacity and competence that will help to address and clarify the debates in the literature. We then introduce the additional concepts of ableness. Finally, we argue that these concepts, distinguished in this way, can help to address future research within the field of children’s rights.
‘Children enter schools as questions marks and leave schools as periods.’ As this quote indicates, schools are entrenched in boundaries and rules which undermine students’ natural curiosity for learning, risk taking, and creative expression. Educators have recognised the need for social and emotional boundaries in the classroom since Maslow and Rogers’s writings. If a student does not feel psychologically safe in the classroom then it is unlikely that s/he will open up to answer questions, take risks, or even participate in the learning process. American students are frequently subjected to one standardised curricula, where teachers must be on the same page simultaneously, indifferent to students’ learning needs, multiple intelligence strengths, cultural/linguistic/socioeconomic diversity, and interests. Clearly these rigid curricula boundaries are ineffective. They undermine students’ confidence and self-esteem, forcing their creativity underground. Students become focused on extrinsic motivation - teachers’ feedback and the copious test scores inundating them (PSSAs, Terra Novas, Bench mark, SATs), which reinforce inflexible boundaries. Conversely, innovative thinking, and problem solving skills are considered the essential workplace qualities American workers currently require to remain forefront in the competitive job market. This demands students’ education be scaffolded utilising flexible curricula boundaries, where teaching can be individualised to maximise each student’s potential. Educators must understand students’ strengths, weaknesses and cultural boundaries, and how these may impact individual and group learning. Additionally, educators must recognise their own teaching and learning strengths, multiple intelligence profiles, as we all teach from our strengths. Furthermore, through careful observations, data collection, feedback, self-study and reflection educators must be aware of their own boundaries, and how these affect classroom climate. They must distinguish between boundaries that support academic and social growth and those that undermine intellectual curiosity, creative expression/problem solving, and consider how boundaries affect student learning. Educators must stretch themselves beyond their teaching comfort zones, thus modelling flexible boundaries to students.