Event: Nomadic Subjects: Children on the Move – a C & S seminar with Dr Leena Robertson and Dr Zinnia Mevawalla

Date & time: 24th January, 12-1.30pm

Location: Middlesex University – Town Hall, Committee Room 2

Seminar 6: Nomadic Subjects: Children on the Move

Dr Leena Robertson (Middlesex University) Roma Children on the Move and in School

This presentation provides a brief snapshot of an Erasmus+ funded project ROM-tels that arises from two long-standing, global and well documented educational challenges: firstly Roma pupils’ poor participation and persistently low achievement in education, and secondly the decline of home language use in primary classrooms as a pedagogic tool to raise the academic achievement of pupils whose home languages differ from the official language of schools. The project introduces translanguaging as a process for learning in schools (in Romania, France, Finland and UK) that facilitates a deeper conceptual understanding that synthesises teachers’ pedagogical knowledge and parents’ and pupils’ linguistic knowledge. In inviting Roma parents to draw on their linguistic ‘funds of knowledge’ the participation in the project empowers teachers to develop and maintain more open and trusting reciprocal relationships between families and schools and in doing so the project aims to change the power-dynamics of school-family relationships. Data presented in this presentation comes from a Newcastle primary school and its ‘translanguaging enquiry learning space’; it shows young Roma children engaging with a history lesson in English and in East Slovak Romani dialect enabling them to draw on these two languages as natural semiotic tools for learning.

Dr Zinnia Mevawalla (University of East London) The Underlife: Resistance as an Act of Social Justice in the Early Years. A Case Study of Young Children Living on the Street in India.

A range of literature presupposes that critical approaches to education are necessary to addressing the current “crises” and injustices that are faced (and often caused) by humankind. The early years have been cited as particularly salient entry points for such endeavors, given that institutionalisation and enculturation to ideologies develops during these early years and, as the early years have lifelong effects upon individuals and societies’ economic, social and political ventures – particularly in low and middle-income contexts and with marginalised groups. Recognising the need to reframe education as ethical and political praxis, this presentation reflects on the lived experiences of young children living on the street in Mumbai, India. In doing so, the presentation unpacks the ways in which social, historical, cultural and political inequities in this context have been recycled to silence and exclude minorities such as children and families living on the street. Subsequently, the presentation draws on data from a case study research conducted with young children, exploring the ways in which children (aged 3-8) living on the street are conscious of, and resistant to, several forms of oppression and injustice. The presentation also highlights the ways in which young children demonstrate participation, agency, and activist ideals to redress the inequitable power relations they experience in their everyday lives.