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Making Room for One Another

Dynamic and Designed Dialogicality in a Kindergarten Classroom


Gerri August

Quoting an abolitionist preacher, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, «The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice». This is true, but the moral arc doesn’t bend on its own. We must lean into the task. Making Room for One Another is the story of how one kindergarten teacher did just that. This critical ethnography lies at the intersection of democratic, transformative pedagogy and differences that impact an urban kindergarten. Drawing largely on discourse analysis, the book explores the interplay between Zeke, the classroom teacher, and his students. The participation, resistance, and discourse patterns of one particular student exemplify the complex nature of social systems in general and emancipatory pedagogy in particular. All educators recognize their responsibility to hone students’ cognitive abilities, to teach students to read and to write and to reason. Making Room for One Another is written for educators who dare ask themselves the question, «Read and write and reason about what? To what end must students read and write and reason?»
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3. Methods and Procedures


← 42 | 43 → Chapter Three

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

(Helpful advice at a crossroads)

I began this project with a metaphor: school is an adventure. Research about school (or anything else, for that matter) is also an adventure, a journey. Early questions include, “What shall I pack?” and “How long will I be gone?” and, probably most important, “What do I want to see; what do I want to understand?” The research path forked early for me. The quantitative path was manicured with T-scores and standard deviations; the other was “an elaborate venture in…‘thick descriptions’” (Geertz, 1973, p. 6). Stashing my graphing calculator into the recesses of my research backpack, off I went down the messy (and long) path of qualitative research. Of course, the division is not as definitive as Frost’s diverging roads; some would even say that at the level of data, there is very little difference between quantitative and qualitative research methodologies (Trochim, 2001). Others have abandoned the notion of a bifurcated world of inquiry, replacing it with a continuum (Patton, 2001). Still, this fundamental choice is critical, for the axioms or basic beliefs that organize the research experience in the quantitative travel guide are decidedly different from those in the qualitative. These distinctions have procedural consequences. A researcher’s basic ← 43 | 44 → beliefs about what can be...

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