An Ethnographic Study on Children’s Culture

An Ethnographic Study on Children’s Culture

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Children spend most of their time in institutions such as schools, learning, in order to provide themselves with the education they need to make their dreams come true. Children view these institutions as a space for sociability where they can form bonds with others, outside their families, as they create and spread their own distinctive culture (McDonnell 26). As a reading buddy at Brooksview Middle School, the knowledge I acquired while there was fascinating as it allowed me to reflect upon my own experiences and relate it to what we were learning in the course. Observing firsthand and note taking allows a researcher to examine the practices of children’s culture more efficiently and this is what I spent most of my Monday afternoon’s doing. Although these institutions are there to help children succeed, they also deny them access to their own culture which may prohibit them from becoming “fully human” (Friere 28).
Viewing childhood as a culture allows one to understand why children view culture so differently from adults (McDonnell 22). At institutions such as Brooksview, children are denied access on a number of things and are assumed to be incapable of making their own rational decisions. Due to the institution’s location, the teachers and principle are extremely strict with the children on how they should act, giving them standards which may deny children from accessing their own culture. This influences these children to act in certain ways, ways in which they believe the society wants them to act. This is shown one day when I attended an assembly regarding the failing rate of the grade sixes. Throughout the assembly, the principle was educating the children on how they should behave in school which led him to his point that the cause of the failing rate (60%) was because of the “coloured” kids (Appendix, Day 6). This is similar to the experiment that is being tested on Octavian in the novel Octavian Nothing Traitor to the Nation. Due to Brooksview’s location and Octavian’s skin colour, people will presume that black people will fail, especially in practices such as education. “… African is, by nature, (a) shiftless and (b) rebellious, requiring constant supervision to remain productive… You have done us a wonderful service, through your failure.” (Anderson 337). This possibly will affect a child’s approach within their society as it may alter their perspective on how they should act rather than how they want to act; changing for the sake of others.

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