Open Speakers Series Lecture "What do refugee background students want us to know about their school lives? by Dr Mervi Kaukko, IASR
Speakers Series 2019-2020, Autumn
What do refugee background students want us to know about their school lives? 'Zooming in' on the practice architectures of a multicultural school in Australia
Dr Mervi Kaukko, IASR
Time: Tuesday, 12 November 2019, at 16:15-17:45
Place: Tampere University, NB! Pinni B, lecture hall B1100, Kanslerinrinne 1, 1st fl.
What happens in multicultural schools during moments which children choose as significant? Why are those moments significant? Does it matter that they were chosen by students from refugee backgrounds? In this lecture, I present a study in which young (58 years of age) children from a range of “refugee-like backgrounds” (UNHCR 2019) in an Australian primary school helped me answer these questions. The children used micro cameras (GoPro) to document the ebb and flow of their everyday school lives and identified moments when they felt happy or ‘successful’. Perhaps not surprisingly, much of these moments included play.
I present three types of play practices, namely play as building, play as bonding and play as negotiating, and discuss their possible role in supporting newly arrived children’s settlement in a new country. The video data showing these types of play was analysed through a practice lens: ‘zooming in’ to identify at granular level the distinctive sayings (talk), doings (actions) and relatings (relationships) of children involved in these practices, and ‘zooming out’ to see the extra-individual arrangements that hold these practices in place. This is crucial for practices are not solely products of the experience and intentions of individual people. Instead, all practices are rendered possible by the particular cultural-discursive arrangements (in language), material-economic arrangements (in work and activities), and social-political arrangements (in solidarity and power, inclusion and exclusion) found in their particular sites.
The lecture will include some examples of child-collected video data and my initial interpretation of what matters for refugee background children in their everyday school lives, and why. Furthermore, I discuss how the child’s experiences, occurring practices and broader practice architectures of schools seem to be nested with one another. The findings will disrupt a common misunderstanding of refugee children’s education as full of struggle and challenge. Instead, the data shows a group of resourceful and skillful students engaged in nuanced and complicated projects of child-led play.