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Title:Who are "we"?: Social relationships and peer interactions in a multilingual/multicultural preschool classroom
Author(s):Ting, Hsueh-yin
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Daniel J. Walsh
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Education, Sociology of
Education, Early Childhood
Abstract:This study explores the peer social world of preschool children in a multilingual/multicultural classroom. Using an ethnographic approach, I focus on the following aspects: how do children organize themselves into groups given the boundaries of language and culture; how do children interact with each other across the group boundaries; and how is the construction and the operation of the peer world influenced by the routines and rules planned by the adults? Methods included participant observation, video and audio taping, interviews of adults and children.
I found that the children form small groups very early in the year and their relationships are maintained throughout the year. Gender and language/culture are the two major boundaries in the peer grouping structure. With minor changes, the children organized themselves into a Russian boys' group, a Chinese boys' group, a Chinese girls' group, a Pakistani girls' group, and an African girls' group. In addition to these stable groups, some children had difficulty in gaining entry into a group and stayed on the edge throughout the year.
I also found that the children protect their interactive space and maintain group boundaries by switching code, pretending to be furious dinosaurs or dogs, labeling another child as the bad guy or the enemy, building walls in the block center, or simply by avoiding or ignoring.
Finally, I described how the children interpret and operate the adult-planned routines of name-singing and name-tag-hanging, the limited-number rule, and the social rule of "everybody has to be friends." I found that the meanings the children constructed for these routines and rules were quite different from what the adults intended. The children's peer relationships and group boundaries shaped and, at the same time, were shaped by the enactment of these routines or rules.
In the conclusion, issues related to peer relationships are discussed, including the influences of school Discourse, gender segregation, the stable status of the "edge children," and identity socialization. It is suggested that the multilingual/multicultural education should seek a balance between the emphasis on the small group "We" and the development of the larger group "WE."
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Ting, Hsueh-yin
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9624518
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9624518

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