In This study, Gerri August analyses a kindergarten classroom in which the “teacher’s practice aligns with the principles of democratic, transformative pedagogy” (August, pg. 4). She also examines the ways children interact with each other, and she focuses on one student, Cody, from a non-dominant family structure. During her observation, she noticed that Cody was resistant to share family stories, which at first made August interpret it as insecurity about Cody’s family structure, but, discovering at the end that the child was more insecure about being adopted. “Making Room for One Another” is basically about the analysis of Cody’s experience, but also it reveals how Zeke (the kindergarten teacher) created a democratic educational environment in which broad issues of difference were recognized and honored.
1- “Children whose discourse patterns match those of the dominant culture, for example, seem to enjoy longer turns and more meaningful interaction with the teacher.” This statement reminds me of Delpit and Johnson when they defend that the successful structure is the one designed for the children of those that are part of culture of power. August say that “… these children see themselves reflected in the explicit and implicit curriculum…”. On the other hand, a child with a different family structure rarely is represented in books, school’s curriculum, etc, as would agree Meyer, as well.
2- “How might a democratic, transformative educator respond to sociocultural differences that emerge in the classroom? How might that educator create constrains and possibilities that encourage students to recognize and appreciate difference? How might a child who represents a marginalized community respond to such interventions?” I found these questions so strong and deep -they are simple questions that demand deep reflection of our own practice, values and bias as educators to respond them and to better guide the students in class to deal with certain subjects. According to August, the kindergarten classroom that she observed “….although devoid of child-initiated opportunities to explore non-dominant family configurations, lent itself to an analysis of democratic pedagogical practice related to broader issues of difference and otherization.”(pg.3) On my understanding, August looks for a balance between individual and institution to deal with the inequity of the difference, but she seems to lean more towards the individual perspective to solve this issue: “if educators understand that society is in the process of being both preserved and transformed by our collective activities, then we will see our classrooms as activity systems that have both roots and wings.” (Pg. 7). This idea is reaffirmed on page 9: “Educators who are alarmed by this censorship need to find effective ways to develop empathic learners who are “ready to learn” the value of difference.
3- “The community needed to adjust, to make room for a newcomer…” According to August, and I agree, openness is what we all need to do to accept and recognize the difference. As teachers, language constitutes a power tool that we have to teach our students to use -we must “intervene in class events to alter their course.”August says that this power is vital to democratic life, but, normally, it is not equally distributed among students and teachers. We all need to learn to appreciate the diversity and practice solidarity.
Along the article, August shows through many examples, how the kindergarten teacher demonstrated, in the moment of teaching, the value of dialogicality.