JACE 5/1

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Abstract Despite the legacy of progressive education, current trends in western schooling favour an emphasis on individual achievement and external standards. Much of what happens in primary classrooms is embedded in social contexts yet education policy is increasingly reflecting an emphasis on learning as a highly individual enterprise. This paper discusses a project which highlights Dewey’s emphasis on learning as a shared social endeavour in which children are partners with teachers and peers in shared activities and goals. Two vignettes from the project are drawn from data collected during the project. These vignettes show that when the social context is valued the arts manifest multiple opportunities for children to be active participants and learners. There are however, constraints and issues that require consideration and these are outlined. Nonetheless, we argue that learning as a social endeavour in the arts affords children agency and is timely a reminder of Dewey’s message. volume 5 • number 1 ISSN 1832 0465 © University of Melbourne

Shared learning, Fraser & Price 2011

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