This dissertation focuses on the actions and interactions of young children’s responses as they negotiate and understand diverse perspectives. Borrowing from critical literacy frameworks (Janks, 2000; Lewison, Flint & Van Sluys, 2002) and social constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978) as a way to view this work, this multi-year qualitative case study (Merriam, 1998; Yin, 2009) investigates how specific strategies or approaches facilitate spaces for enhancing meaning making and provide openings for inquiry-based responses when using picturebooks to discuss the topic of empathy. Another aspect of this study examines how verbal and artifactual responses are constructed by children through interactive discussions and dramatic engagements. Influenced by scholarship from Freire, Greene, and Noddings, while utilizing humanizing pedagogies, this investigation aims to not only disrupt normalcy in the way we see things but also in the way we are doing things in the literacy classroom. Thematic analysis (Fereday & Muir-Cochrane, 2006) and a second layer of critical questioning were used for interpreting and analyzing the data. Multiple themes emerged which are described using a model of empathy literacy that has been developed as a result of this qualitative investigation. Critical and reflective practices of empathy literacy infuse social justice literacy with 21st century skills such as leadership, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. The results suggest that approaching teaching and learning through inquiry and collaborative problem solving proved to be the opening that was needed to build a critical community of care. The participants showed evidence of fostering inclusivity, while valuing self and others, thereby contributing to existing theories of caring and inquiry. The findings could benefit scholarship in the areas of teacher researcher and teacher education practices, social justice literacy, humanizing pedagogies, and early childhood education. Fundamentally, this research aims to contribute a deeper look into what it means for children and teachers to situate the self in various social contexts while carefully examining the language, cultural, and social influences that drive meaning making processes and how that contributes to empathetic understanding.
|Advisor:||Medina, Carmen L.|
|Commitee:||Daley, Sharon, Lewison, Mitzi, Weltsek, Gustave|
|Department:||School of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Indiana|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Elementary education, Early childhood education|
|Keywords:||Children's literature, Critical literacy, Drama, Early childhood, Empathy, Inquiry|
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