SESSION #5: Politics of Teaching
The latest HighScope Roundtable series, inspired by the book Segregation by Experience: Agency, Racism, and Learning in the Early Grades (2021, University of Chicago Press) will delve into a groundbreaking study on equity and agency in the early childhood classroom.
This session focuses on how teachers’ efforts to support agency and connect to children’s real lives is complicated by power and politics operating at multiple levels. Chapter 5 shows how Ms. Bailey often felt pressure to be efficient and position the young children as individuals, rather than as a community, as well as how she responded to those specific pressures. Chapter 5 shows how offering sophisticated, dynamic, and agentic learning experiences to the children in her classroom brought about tension between her and her teacher colleagues, and put her between the politics of early childhood education and up against racist ideologies about who is ready for what when they arrive at school. The discussion will focus on how outside social-emotional learning programs, testing, and regulations restrict teacher agency and make it difficult for educators to focus on children as smart and capable within a system designed for compliance, assessment, and management.