Communal Agency and Social Development: Examples from First Grade Classrooms Serving Children of Immigrants

Jennifer Keys Adair, Kiyomi S?nchez-Suzuki Colegrove
page. 69~91 / 2014 Vol.8 No.2


This article explores how children of Latino immigrants responded to a learning environment where theycould influence how and what they learned. Using ethnographic data from the much larger Agency andYoung Children project in the United States, this article describes how a particular six year oldclassroom serving mostly children of Latino immigrants responded in ways that not only increasedcontent knowledge in subjects such as science and literacy but also increased the amount of shared orcommunal agency in the classroom, even affecting the development of social capabilities by the childrenand teacher alike. Using a conceptual framework borrowed from development economics andparticularly the work on agency and capabilities by Sen (1999; 2003), this paper counters a strictlypsychological, individualistic version of agency and instead conceptualizes agency as a means tobuilding individual and communal capabilities.

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