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Making sense of ‘challenging’ behaviour in Reception: A discursive exploration of the way parents and teachers construct young children.

Lusby, Rachael (2016) Making sense of ‘challenging’ behaviour in Reception: A discursive exploration of the way parents and teachers construct young children. DEdCPsy thesis, University of Sheffield.

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The rise of so-called challenging behaviour in primary schools continues to be a topic for discussion amongst educators, politicians and the media. Children are often quickly categorised as having Social Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties or as being simply ‘naughty’ within a framework of available discourses dominated by constructed understanding of the ‘bad’, ‘mad’ or ‘sad’ (MacLeod, 2006). This thesis explores how parents and school staff use language to make sense of and share understanding of children’s behaviour that is understood to be ‘challenging’ or ‘problematic’ as they begin the journey through school based education- in Reception Year of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). A qualitative design was followed to provide in-depth research; focussing specifically on language used to share understanding of the behaviour of a five-year-old child. The study explored how key adults around a child drew upon various discourses to construct the child and bring meaning to the child’s actions. Data was gathered from semi-structured interviews with school staff and the child’s parents, followed by a joint consultation involving myself, the school staff and the parents. A critical analytic approach was drawn upon through a synthetic use of Discursive Psychology and Foucauldian Discourse Analysis. This provided a framework to explore both how discursive resources were used to make sense of behaviour, as well as what constructs were produced and how they were made available to others (Willig, 2008). This approach was found to be helpful in understanding the ambiguity and complexity of shared understanding of ‘challenging’ behaviour. Emerging discourses of pathology, disciplinary practices and the construction of the ‘normal’ school child within ‘normal’ development emphasised the power dynamics present and active within the EYFS education system. Discursive complexities of what it means to be ‘good’ and how adults position themselves in ensuring such social compliance also became relevant.

Item Type: Thesis (DEdCPsy)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.692446
Depositing User: Mrs Rachael Lusby
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2016 14:57
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 13:19
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13869

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