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    Slow has become Urgent. How can I Foster a Slow Pedagogy in a Preschool for Children with Special Needs?

    Finnegan, Audrey (2021) Slow has become Urgent. How can I Foster a Slow Pedagogy in a Preschool for Children with Special Needs? Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    The purpose of this research was to investigate how I could foster a slow pedagogy with young children with special needs in a preschool. ‘Slow is about connecting to self, others and place.’ (Tanti, 2019). Nutbrown (2012: 3) calls for teachers of early years children ‘to become effective pedagogical leaders who understand the learning and development needs of children and can enhance and extend learning opportunities.’ I would like to include in this, children with special needs, who, when given a voice and an opportunity, have the power to effect change. Fostering a slow pedagogy gave me the opportunity. The research was conducted in a preschool for children with physical disabilities. Their primary disability is physical, and some had additional medical, sensory, and/or social needs. Six pupils were engaged in the study. All children had a different physical disability and required various forms of additional support to access curricular and play resources. The research participants were in the researcher’s class. Three Special Needs Assistants took on the role of critical friends throughout the study. A self-study action research methodology allowed me to explore my own teaching practice with the aim of improving it. The study was qualitative in nature. It consisted of two research cycles; each cycle was four weeks. Cycle One explored the introduction of daily movement activities based on themes. The movements were to promote body awareness and exploration of the children’s physicality through fun, creative themes. Cycle Two extended these themes through the lens of a slow pedagogy. My values of care, inclusion and positive relationships became more visible, more explicit as this second cycle progressed. Data was collected using a variety of tools through questionnaires, observation field notes, notes from meetings with critical friends and validation group, reflective journal, photographs and documentation to build a valid source of evidence. The key findings revealed that a slow pedagogy allows children’s curiosity to be seen and extended by adults. Time allowed learning activities to flow naturally, in tune with each child’s internal rhythms of themselves. The children could exercise choice and control at their level of ability, over aspects such as duration and pace of activity and area of exploration. The connectedness within the group created opportunities to work with others and learn from them, thus ‘Slow’ became about connecting to themselves, with each other and to their classroom environment. Throughout the research I have questioned my personal epistemology and I can now conclude that I have improved my teaching practice and developed deeper connections with the children while fostering a slow pedagogy, I have created my own epistemology, I have lived closer to my values and progressed my claim to knowledge.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Keywords: Slow Pedagogy; Preschool; Children; Special Needs; Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
    Item ID: 15162
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2021 14:04
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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