What are young children telling us? – Think about school segregation from a totally different angle

Food for thought and a good discussion starter on segregation and school-life based on research by Prof. Bojana Breneselovic from Belgrade University:

First of all the vast majority of schools from early childhood to secondary have an age and spacious segregation policy in place. The children are assigned to homogeneous age groups, sometimes even offered facilities fully scaled down to their size (with small sinks and toilets, not even one of adult size in view). The movement of children in the schools are very often limited, even regulated to be limited. They are forbidden to enter certain parts of the building, certain rooms, parts of the yard. Sending a child to a group for smaller children is used as punishment in some cases.

Social segregation is also in place in schools. Children are allowed to meet a very limited number of adults in the school context, often from the same social class, and very often nearly exclusively women. Gender segregation does not end with the teachers being female, but also by arranging certain toys as girls’ or boys’.

The exclusion of parents, the fact that they cannot be in the building or the classroom anytime is also considered a form of segregation. Closed school doors (very often with the pretext of safety) artificially separates the world of children and adults.

When organising school activities there are two more regular types of segregation. One being a segregation of activities into learning and play, the learning through play element is often missing. There is also a segregation by power, in who chooses what and when the child is supposed to learn.

As a result, practice is more often than not there is a huge discrepancy between intentions and practice of schools, resulting in independence, tolerance, creativity and curiosity are replaced by compliance and obedience, surely not a way to educate active European citizens.