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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Claudia Protasio Ceccon
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: Children’s Protagonism at the Centro Cultural da Criança: A Case Study
Dr. Joseph Kretovics, Chair
Dr. Sue Poppink
Dr. Gunilla Holm
Date: Wednesday, Novemer 3, 2010 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
3208 Sangren Hall
This case study makes a thorough description and discussion of how child protagonism, participation and autonomy were implemented in an out of school center – The Children’s Cultural Center – in a favela, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From February 2008 to July 2010, the researcher visited the center twice a week for 18 months then once a week. In-depth interviews with educators and children were conducted, observation sessions in the activity rooms were recorded, and actualization sessions for educators and family days were observed. This study describes the perspectives and expectations of the Center’s educators on their work and how they rethought their practice to facilitate children’s protagonism. It presents the children’s perspectives on the opportunity of making choices and participation in decision making and problem solving. Discussions are contextualized using as reference an in-depth analysis of the community setting (Morro dos Macacos), the conceptual premise of the child as a rights holder, how it reflected on international and Brazilian policies, and, finally, the organizational challenges of implementing a novelty concept. Some of the main findings include: 1) young children are great communicators and contributors, willing to take on responsibility to lead when provided fair conditions for participation; 2) children organize themselves spontaneously and learn new forms of participation – both need to be valued as part of the participation repertoire; 3) children enjoy having freedom to choose and self-regulate their participation in activities; 4) children enjoy learning while playing, learning with peers of different gender and age, learning through observation, and learning in busy environments; 5) building caring relationship of mutual respect to create a learning environment where children and adult feel comfortable is fundamentally important; 6) educators need time, freedom to try and err, opportunities for discussion, as well as professional support to implement concepts that involve breaking paradigms; and 7) educators need to build a collaborative environment to share their concerns and work collectively on solutions to ensure implementation is successful and innovation attains sustainability. The Cultural Center's methodology is presented, so that readers can assess and get inspired by their approach for implementing children’s protagonism.