Realizaram-se na passada sexta-feira, dia 05 de maio de 2017, às 14:00h, as Provas de Doutoramento em Estudos da Criança, na especialidade de Sociologia da Infância requeridas pela Mestre Joana Campos Louçã, tendo como orientadores o Doutor Manuel José Jacinto Sarmento Pereira e o Doutor Alan Prout. O júri foi presidido pela Doutora Laurinda Sousa Ferreira Leite, tendo estado presentes os seguintes vogais: Doutor João Miguel Trancoso Vaz Teixeira Lopes, da Universidade do Porto; Doutor Licínio Carlos Viana Silva Lima, da Universidade do Minho; Doutora Natália Fernandes, da Universidade do Minho; Doutora Maria Emília Pinto Vilarinho Rodrigues Barros Zão, da Universidade do Minho; Doutora Teresa de Jesus Seabra de Almeida, do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa ISCTE-IUL; Doutor Alan Prout, da Universidade de Leeds. No final, a candidata foi aprovada, por unanimidade, com a menção de “Muito Bom”.
Título da Tese: “We’d learn in a different way. Instead of listening, we did things” Body and movement in primary school education”
Resumo: The main goals of this thesis were to study children participation in schools, through their bodily expression and free movement, subverting the discipline of the traditional school inducing passivity. From references mainly sustained by Childhood Studies, with incursions through the sciences that deal with the children’s bodies and its relations with school and learning, this research was a case study using mainly qualitative data, such as participant observation, visual methods and interviews. It was done over three years following a project of learning through movement called THE BODY AT SCHOOL, applied by an artistic association (c.e.m) at a primary school in Mouraria, Lisbon. The results showed that the children learnt curricular, pedagogic, artistic and social contents through the project. The positive feelings the children associated with the project’s sessions helped them remember what they had learnt, enhanced episodic learning and memory in what, we argue, was the creation of positive “somatic markers”. The network of care and affection created through the project between the children and the adults, inside and outside the school and the fact that the sessions were based on open-ended exercises increased the children’s confidence and pleasure in learning, which was particularly important for the children with learning or language difficulties. Children participation at school through the project was especially developed when they taught a class to a group of adults, when they made a book and in their participation in the project’s sessions outside the school, in the ruins of an abandoned building in Mouraria. These “collaboratively emergent” sessions developed in a shared decision-making process that also included the children’s families, former students from the school, the teachers and some inhabitants of Mouraria. The work with the neighbourhood managed to combine the children’s “emplaced knowledge” with “spatial knowledge” and the children’s collective actions with the adults transformed ruins that were not originally designed for children, into a “children’s space”. The use of the arts and the fact that the sessions developed in a sequence of “expansive cycles” (defined by activity theory) permitted the children to manage their own bodies and, in particular, we described how one child achieved a “moment of epiphany” (or “priming event”) that transformed her relationship with the others. A moment that, we argue, would not have happened in a regular class and, in that sense, the project created an approximation to an “ideal speech situation”. We exemplified a moment where the project allowed for the translation of children’s notions of their “incarnated bodies” into the adults’ idea of a “somatic body”. Through these sessions, the children’s “body as project” was potentiated and the children’s formal, informal and non-formal knowledge was included and valued, and we argue that helped the children learn. The “ethical symmetry” between adults and children, developed by the children working together with the adults, created a flexible “network of relationships” in which most children recognised the importance of their participation in the shaping of the sessions, but they also saw this symmetry as being short-lived and limited to the project. The sustainability of the project and its promoting association were threatened by a lack of institutional support. Hence, the research could not help but to focus – despite its original intentions did not predict it – on the difficulty of transformation at school, an important question in the contemporary educational agenda, but that is limited or severely restricted by the lack of political structures capable of sustaining change in education. That is one of this thesis’ dimensions: its undeniable political character, regarding a defence of the public school and its change for the promotion of learning for the children, especially of the poorer children and/or those who do not correspond to the dominant culture. Keywords: Childhood Studies, Movement, Learning, Arts, City, Body, School, Community.