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Adult learning in school-age care: child care workers as reflective practitioners Musson, Stephen Philip 1994

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ADULT LEARNING IN SCHOOL-AGE CARE:CHILD CARE WORKERS AS REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONERSbySTEPHEN PHILIP MUSSONB.A., University of British Columbia, 1983A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENTOF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of Administrative, Adult and Higher EducationWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAMarch, 1994© Steve Musson, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of , AJR Mi)The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate__________________DE-6 (2188)IIAbstractThis is a study of adult learning in school-age care (SAC). Datafrom observations and interviews with ten school-age care workers(SACWs) form the core of this research. The writer was once a SACWhimself, and now is an instructor of SAC-related courses at twocommunity colleges.The initial research question was “how do SACWs learn tobecome more effective in their work with children ?“. The focus onadult learning naturally led to an examination of the learners’ thoughtsand their thinking processes. Thus the focus of this research evolvedto include the reflective elements of quality SAC practice. As the datafrom the observations and the interviews was collected it becameapparent that quality SAC work involves reflective practice.During the interviews it was noticed that several SACWs initiallyexperienced some difficulty describing the thought processes thataccompanied their skillful action. This could be due to the tacit natureof their skills and knowledge, or it could be because thoughtful actionis difficult to describe in a society that, on the whole, devalues thework that adults do in child care. Despite some initial reluctance totalk about their work as “skilled” and “thoughtful”, the data from thefield work clearly shows that SACWs do reflect upon their action, andIIIthat sometimes they reflect i.n their action. The study documents sixspecific examples of reflection-in-action (Schon, 1983, 1990).The study concludes by pointing out three key implications of thereflective practice concept as it applies to adult education in SAC.SACWs should be given plenty of formal and informal opportunities toreflect upon, and to talk about, their practice. On-site supervisors andcollege educators should emphasize the complexity and richness of thethought and skill involved in quality practice. A distinction should bemade between training (which focuses on the acquisition ofdemonstrable skills) and education (which focuses on ways of thinkingabout children and child care). Implications for further research arealso discussed.ivTable of ContentsAbstract iiTable of ContentsAcknowledgements viForeword viiChapter One: Introduction & Background 1School-Age Care (SAC) Defined and Described 4The Connection Between Training & Quality SAC 8The Research Question: A Preliminary Discussion 11“More Effective” in SAC 1 2Chapter Two: Research Methods 1 8The Ethnographic Tradition 22The Informants (SACWs) 23The Observations 26The Interviews 28Data Collection & Analysis 29The Reflexive Journal 33Chapter Three:Research Question & Theoretical Framework 36The Original Research Question 36Learning as First-Order and Second-Order Change 39A Developmental Perspective on Adult Learning in SAC 49VChapter Four: Emergent Themes 55Initial Denial 56Tacit skills & knowledge 66Invisible Skills 67SACWs Thinking about Their Work 70Reflections on Content - Golden Rule 80Reflections on Content - Sane communication 83Chapter Five: Reflective Performances 93Reflective Performance #1: Frank and the Snack Table 93Reflective Performance #2: Heather and the Mural 96Reflective Performance #3: Cindy and the Day Pack 98Reflective Performance #4: Danielle Signing Children In 99Reflective Performance #5: Betty and the Foozeball Table 1 05Reflective Performance #6: Steve at the “Fishing Hole” 1 06Schon’s Concept of “Reflection-in-Action” 11 0Chapter Six: Conclusions & Implications 11 5Summary of Findings 11 5Conclusions 11 8Reflection as learning 212Implications 1 22Opportunities to reflect on and Dialogue about Practice 1 23Emphasize Skill & Thought in SAC Practice 1 26Making a Distinction between Training & Education 1 29Implications for Further Research 1 32Final summary 1 33References 135viAcknowledgmentsI would like to begin by acknowledging the ten school-age careworkers who generously consented to be participants in this study.Their actions and words are at the core of this research.I would like to thank Dr. Allison Tom, my research supervisor.Her advice, support and encouragement have been vital throughout theentire research and writing process. With her help I have come to seemany things in a different light. I believe that being able to “seethings in a different light” is one of the main characteristics of a goodgraduate school experience.I would like to thank Dr. Dan Pratt for his insights into adultlearning. I would also like to thank Dr. Hillel Goelman for hiscontributions regarding Early Childhood Education as a field of study.Gyda Chud had supervised and supported my work as an instructorat Vancouver Community College (Langara). My work at Langara hasprovided the background for much of the learning represented in thisthesis. The students in my courses at Langara College and DouglasCollege have shared with me their genuine questions about learning andnumerous the real-life examples of their own learning.I am grateful to Colleen Spring for her support and patienceduring the research and writing of this thesis.viiForewordIt should be noted that part of the section entitled “MoreEffective in SAC” (in Chapter One) has been adapted from my bookSchool-Age Care: Theory and Practice, published by Addison-Wesley,1994.1Chapter One:Introduction & BackgroundWorking in school-age care (SAC) is both an intellectual and apractical endeavour. It requires thinking and doing. Quality SACinvolves an integration of thought and action. As with other forms ofchild care, SAC suffers from an image problem. There is a prevalentmyth that “anyone can work with children” and that it is not anoccupation that requires much thoughtful action. Kelly (1990) pointsout that “the reality is that most people now view child care assomething anyone can do” (pg. 172). Because of this widespread myth,many school-age child care workers (SACW5) often do not recognizetheir own skills and talents. Until this issue is addressed it willcreate problems for training and education in the field.In this thesis I will demonstrate that working with children isskilled work and that SACWs do think about and reflect upon theirwork. Further, I will show that SACWs can learn to become moreeffective in their work with children by becoming more reflective - bybecoming more conscious of their purposes, options, choices andbehaviours - and by developing their ability to reflect in the midst oftheir action. I will show that as SACWs become more aware of what itis they want to accomplish and how their actions can contribute to2their goals, they can become more intentional and more able to controlor harness their actions in the service of high quality SAC. Toparaphrase Ayers (1989, p. 5), the more self-conscious they become,the more they will be able to author their own care-giving scripts.I began working with children in 1978. Almost from thebeginning I was fascinated with how adults work with children. Thisfascination led to an interest in how adults learn to work effectivelywith children. Over the years as a “front-line” child care worker andas an administrator, I have observed hundreds of adults work withchildren. Over the past seven years as a college instructor teachingschool-age care courses I have had the privilege of seeing many adultslearn how to become more effective with children. Throughout mychild care and my teaching career I have tried to focus on the questionof adult learning in school-age care. I have often wondered “How doadults learn to become more effective in their work with children ?“This thesis represents one specific attempt to answer that question.This research has helped to change the way I teach in the collegeclassroom. I am now focussing more on the way that the adult studentsare learning and less on the way that I am teaching. Through thisprocess I believe that my teaching has improved, and, moreimportantly, the students’ learning has improved. On a regular basis Iask them to reflect upon their work and learning in their centres and in3the college classroom. This reflective process helps all of us becomemore effective in our work with children.In Chapter One I create a context and background for the researchand define key elements of the research question. In Chapter Two Ioutline and discuss the research methods. In Chapter Three I detail theevolution of the research question and construct a theoreticalframework for the thesis. Chapter Four begins with an examination ofa phenomenon in which SACWs fail to recognize, or to adequatelydescribe, the thought involved in the execution of skillfulperformances. I then demonstrate that SACWs do think about andreflect upon their work, and I discuss two content-oriented conceptsthat serve as foundations for much of that reflection: the Golden Ruleand “sane communication”. In Chapter Five I focus on five vignettes ofreflective performances in SAC. In each reflective performance we cansee the integration of thought and action. The phrase “working in SACis both an intellectual and a practical endeavour” comes to life in eachperformance. I also include one vignette that I personally experiencedduring the research period. Each vignette serves to support andillustrate the idea that quality work in SAC involves “reflection-inaction” (Schon, 1983). In Chapter Six I will examine the conclusionsthat can be drawn from the research, and I will outline some of theimplications of this research for current and future adult education4efforts in the field of SAC.School-Age Care Defined and DescribedMcDonell (1993) defines school-age child care as “care providedin family day care and centre care facilities (both licensed andlicence-not required) and programs designed for recreational purposesfor children of school-age” (p. ix). Using a fuller definition, Musson(1994) defines school-age care as:an interrelated collection of adult-sponsored carestructures and program activities that are set up on aregular basis for school-aged children (usually between theages of 5 to 13 years) for the periods of time when schoolis not in session and parents are not at home. When theparent leaves the child, the SACW assumes responsibilityfor the child’s whereabouts and well-being until the parentreturns to pick the child up. The SACW provides age-appropriate activities and environments, nourishment andnurturing, supervision, guidance, and possiblytransportation (p. 3).RMC Research (1993) points out that the term “school-age childcare” can also encompass “summer camps, drop-in centres, and otherprograms that offer supervised care and enrichment opportunities forthe nation’s school children during their out-of-school hours andvacation periods” (p. 6).A school-age care worker (SACW) is an adult who works withchildren in a SAC program. These adults may be paid or volunteers,they may be group leaders, assistants or specialists, they may be full-5time or part-time, and they may be trained or untrained. All the SACWsin this research worked in SAC programs that were licensed andregulated by government agencies.Several authors have asserted that the number of SAC programshas grown over the last ten years, and is continuing to grow. Speakingabout the years 1982 to 1992, Seligson and Allenson (1993) state that“after ten years, there had been a phenomenal growth in the number ofprograms” (pg. xi). Doney (1990) has stated that “in the last few yearsschool age child care has emerged as the fastest growing [child care)service across Canada” (p. 22). In a recent comparative study ofschool-aged child care programs, Park (1992) noted that “in Ontario,the number of school-aged children in licensed child care programs hasgrown dramatically over the past few years” (p. 1). McDonell (1993)notes the “increasing number of school-age care programs” in the pastfew years in British Columbia (p. 2).There are several reasons for this increase in the number of SACprograms and for the increase in demand for these programs. While thereasons listed for this growth by RMC Research (1993) are from anational study of SAC programs in the United States, these reasonsapply to Canada as well.Over the past two decades, several trends in American societyhave influenced the need and demand for non-familial carearrangements for children ages 5 to 13. These include:6- dramatic increases in the numbers of family membersworking outside the home who are unavailable to supervisechildren when school is not in session;- rising fears about the health and safety risks unsupervisedchildren may experience; and- the growing interest in supplementing formal K-12 educationwith a variety of informal social and educational activitiesthat enhance children’s development.Increased demand for child care reflects four demographic shifts:- the growth in number of young children as the baby boomcohort has begun to reproduce;- the sharp increase since 1970 in the employment of motherswith young children;- the increase in the proportion of single-parent families; and- fewer family members available to care for school-agechildren during non-school hours (p. 3).According to a recent report on a national child care study,(Goelman et at, 1993), “the majority (57%) of Canadian children underthe age of 13 participate in at least one non-parental child carearrangement in a given week. The children spend an average of 18.3hours per week in non-parental care” (p. 13). In terms of school-agechildren, this study revealed that “the 6 to 9 year-old age group hasreportable numbers of children in [SAC] programs. Of 6 to 9 year olds,4.2% (60,400) were in these programs for an average of 10.8 hoursduring the reference week” (p. 61). Of 10 to 12 year-olds, 1.1%(11,100) were in SAC programs for an average of 7.8 hours per week (p.73). This means, of course, that there are an estimated 71,500children enrolled in SAC programs in Canada.7The report also points out that Canadian families chose theirchild care arrangements for a variety of reasons. These reasonsincluded:1. To stimulate children’s physical, intellectual andemotional development; to promote their personalcompetence; and to help them develop social skillsthrough interaction with other children and adults.2. To provide children with care when their parents areworking or looking for work.3. To provide children with care when parents are in schoolor in job training.4. To provide special needs children with speciallydesigned stimulation and remediation in a settingallowing social interaction with other children andadults.5. To support families with special needs such as familiesin which parents have serious health problems, familiesin distress, families with a background or risk of childabuse or families with handicapped or chronically illchildren.6. To support families is specific times of peak need suchas parental illness, family emergency, seasonalemployment, or breakdowns in existing child carearrangements.7. To provide children with care when parents are engagedin volunteer, community, religious or other activities (p.19).8The Connection between Training & Quality in SACThe rapid growth in SAC has served to focus attention on thesubject of training and education in the field.Over the past few years, data from a variety of provincial,national and international research projects have shown asignificant relationship between the education and trainingof care-providers and the quality of care environments, inboth centre care and family day care . . . This body ofresearch, focusing primarily on preschool aged children, hasrevealed a strong correlation between training and qualityof care. It makes intuitive sense, therefore, to assume thattraining is also an important variable influencing thequality of care for school-aged children (6-12 years). As aresult, care-providers and child care advocates in BritishColumbia have been increasing calls for the establishmentof training opportunities for school-age care-providersworking in both family day care and school-age centre carearrangements (McDoneII, 1993, p. 1).In the same vein, Alexander (1986) asserts that “the proper training ofafter-school program employees is the most critical element in anysuccessful operation for elementary age children” (p. 7).There has also been an increased demand for SAC training andeducation in the past few years.A combination of a requirement for training as well asan increasing number of school-age child care programshas resulted in an increased number of individualswishing to access school-age training . . . Many postsecondary institutions and other agencies across theprovinces have, therefore, turned their attention to thedevelopment and availability of school-age training(McDonell, 1993, p. 2).9After conducting a province-wide training needs analysis project,McDonelI has asserted that “the school-age community in BritishColumbia has been increasingly vocal about the need for training”(1993, p. 3). She has also pointed out that while there is a growingdemand for school-age training, criteria for such training has not yetbeen developed by the government (McDonell, p. 4).In Canada, training for SACWs is typically not required byprovincial government child care regulations. SACWs in Ontario andManitoba are required to have the same training as those working inprograms for preschool aged children. In Alberta:school-age programs are not licensed through theirprovincial day care act, however, some municipalities,including Edmonton and Calgary, regulate school-age careand require trained care-providers in their school-ageprograms (McDoneII, p. 2).In British Columbia specific training for SACWs is not yet required bygovernment regulation. According to the Province of British Columbia’sChild Care Regulation (1989) a person working in SAC needs to be “aresponsible adult”. A responsible adult is a person who: 1) is of goodcharacter; 2) is 19 years of age or older; 3) is able to provide care andmature guidance to children; and 4) has completed either a course onthe care of young children or has relevant work experience (Province ofBritish Columbia, 1989, p. 6). There is no indication as to what that10course might be for SACWs.Despite the lack of government regulations regarding training forSACWs, a college certificate program has been set up at VancouverCommunity College (VCC) offered at the Langara campus. In 1993/94the same program is also being offered at Douglas College, using thesame curriculum and the same instructors. The “Working with School-Age Children” certificate program is made up of six core courses and anumber of electives. The core courses include: Introduction to SAC (18instructional hours); Working with 5 Year Olds (24 instructional hours);Working with 6-9 Year Olds (24 instructional hours); Working with 9-12 Year Olds (24 instructional hours); Working with Children withSpecial Needs (24 instructional hours); and Leadership andOrganizational Skills (24 instructional hours). With relevant electivesthe entire certificate program totals 150 instructional hours. Themajority of students enrolled in these courses are already working inthe SAC field, but there is usually also a significant minority ofstudents who are not employed in SAC. Members of this latter groupinclude supervision aides for schools, professional nannies, andstudents who simply want to find out more about a career working withchildren.While there is a marked increase in the attention given totraining in SAC (McDonell, 1993; Exploring Environments, Dec. 1991;11School-Age Notes, Oct. 1993; Albrecht, 1991; Doherty, 1991), there hasbeen little written about adult learning in SAC. A focus on training andeducation issues for adults in SAC is important for the professionalevolution of the field. At the same time, attention to adult learning inSAC also deserves some serious attention. Examining how SACWs thinkand learn can help adult education providers design and deliver relevanteducational experiences for them.The Research Question: A Preliminary DiscussionThe initial research question was: “How do SACWs learn tobecome more effective in their work with children ?“. This questionhas remained at the forefront of the research process. At the sametime, the question has also evolved. The focus on learning led to anexamination of the learners’ thoughts and their thinking processes. Theresearch question has evolved to include a focus on the reflectiveelements of quality SAC practice and the implications of this for adultteaching and learning in the field. What do SACWs think about whenthey are involved in skillful practice ? Do SACWs learn to thinkdifferently as they become more competent ? A more completediscussion of the evolution of the research question can be found inChapter Three.SAC is a relatively new phenomenon for academic study. After anextensive search I could find nothing published that dealt specifically12with the subject of adult learning in SAC. As such, there is no separateliterature review in this thesis. It is integrated throughout the paper.Literature dealing with child care in general, adult learning, andprofessional practice is cited throughout.“More effective” in SACThis research report will use three complementary notions todefine the concept of what it means to become “more effective” inwork with SAC children. The first notion is based upon existinglicensing regulations for the field. The second notion is based upon thecurrent field-based literature on quality care and appropriate practicein SAC. The third notion is based upon each individual SACW’s goalsand principles as these relate to her’ work in SACThe main purpose of licensing regulations is to ensure thatminimum standards are adhered to by all licensed centres. Theseregulations also serve to prohibit unacceptable practice in SAC. Hereare three examples of regulations from the Province of BritishColumbia’s Community Care Facility Act (1989):The licensee shall . . . establish emergency procedures . .and ensure that all staff are thoroughly trained in theprocedures . . . (Part 2, 24, a).The licensee shall . . . provide the staff . . . and parents with1 Because the majority of adults working in SAC are women I willuse the pronoun “she” throughout this paper unless I am specificallyreferring to a male SACW.13a written statement of the facility’s policy on discipline(Part 2, 27, A).The licensee shall . . . ensure that no child enrolled in afacility is . . . subjected to harsh, belittling or degradingtreatment, whether verbal, emotional, or physical, thatwould humiliate the child or undermine the child’s self-respect (Part 2, 27, B, ii).Part of the process by which a SACW becomes more effective in herwork is based upon the extent to which she moves closer toconsistently making these, and other licensing requirements, a realityin her day-to-day practice.In the last few years several documents have been publishedwhich describe quality care and developmentally appropriate practicein SAC. Various authors have, for the most part, agreed on what can beconsidered “quality criteria” for SAC. This literature includesAlbrecht (1991) which outlines a wide variety of quality criteria forthe field. Albrecht & Plantz (1991) uses specific examples of practiceto articulate what is meant by quality care in SAC. O’Connor (1991)describes a detailed assessment process for centres. Doherty (1991)uses research in other forms of child care to discuss quality in SAC.These writings have helped to create a picture of what iscommonly agreed upon in the field as “quality practice”. Here are fourexamples of quality criteria or developmentally appropriate practice14from this body of literature:Staff actively seek meaningful conversations with childrenand youth, commenting on work, talking about events ofimportance, etc. (Albrecht, 1991, P. 1).Staff . . . involve children and youth in establishing clearlimits and rules that are tailored to fit school-agers’emerging skills. They explain reasons and rationales forrules as well as expectations for behaviour so that childrenand youth can use this information in making choices abouttheir actions (Albrecht & Plantz, 1991, p. 8).As a team, staff should act as good role models for thechildren:- Staff share their skills, interests and ideas with children.- Staff share their enthusiasm with the children.- Staff share their thoughtfulness with the children.- Staff share their sense of humor with the children(O’Connor, 1991, Program Observation, p. 4).Staff [should provide] increasingly more frequentopportunities for the children to select, plan and implementactivity as the children mature . . . (Doherty, 1991, p. 95).A SACW can become more effective in her work by making these, andother literature-based quality criteria, a reality in her day-to-daypractice.Not all quality care can be described by licensing regulations andfield-based literature. There is an essential individual, personalelement involved in the production of quality in SAC. When describingprofessional competencies in early childhood education, Beckett &15Hooktwith (1991) include the concept of “self-understanding”. Theystate that:One’s relationship to oneself - for example, one’s self-esteem, one’s knowledge and understanding of one’s ownprejudices, attitudes and behaviours are the bases for one’sreactions to people and problems, that determine theeffectiveness of any relationship with others. It iscrucially important that teachers be aware of these factors- that is, be self-aware, self-understanding - in order thatthe special relationship between teacher and child be anappropriately nurturing one for both teacher and child (p.27).The SACW’s own personal/professional goals and principles playan important role in defining the notion of effectiveness. Each SACWmust decide what she wants to accomplish (her goals) in her practice,and what she believes to be important (her principles) in terms ofchildren and child care. Most SACWs’ goals and principles include thequality criteria expressed in the field-based literature but may also gobeyond these quality criteria. Listed below are four examples of goalsand/or principles that informants in this study expressed regardingtheir own work with children in SAC.During the interview, Frank2 said:I think it’s very important for kids that age to be givensome freedom. For them to know, “Hey, he’s treating mewith trust, he’s trusting me so in turn I’m going to showresponsibility because I really enjoy that trust”.2 Pseudonyms are used throughout this paper16Expressing what she wanted to accomplish in her work with children,Erica said:Responsibility, respect, and achievement basically. . . Andautonomy too. I want them to do things on their own.Independence too.Wayne said that for him:Cooperation is big . . . because we have to share a space, astructure, whether it be a physical space or the way wehave to do things . . . We have limited resources to acquireand to maintain [supplies and equipment] . . . so we have tocooperate, because we have to be here whether we want toor not, for whatever reason, right ?At several points in Betty’s interview she made comments thatreflected the purposes that underlie her work and the work of her staffteam.I really see our role as ‘social educators’, and of courseteaching the children to be responsible for their behaviour.This is our work, we want the best for these children, wewant to treat each child fairly and equally . .that’s been one of our goals - teaching childrenresponsibility for their own behaviour.A key part of the process by which a SACW becomes moreeffective in her work is based upon the extent to which she movescloser to consistently making her own personal/professional goals andprinciples a reality in her day-to-day practice.17Taken together, these three complementary notions define whatis meant by the phrase “more effective” in SAC. In summary then, aSACW becomes more effective to the extent that she:1) moves closer to abiding by the minimum standards setout by the applicable, enlightened licensingregulations, and2) moves closer to actualizing the ideas regarding qualitycare and developmentally appropriate practice in SACas outlined in the current literature, and3) moves closer to actualizing her ownpersonal/professional goals and principles as sheworks with children, staff and parents at the centre.18Chapter Two:Research MethodsIn this chapter I will outline the reasons why I chose to usequalitative methods to answer the research question. I will brieflydiscuss the ethnographic tradition in qualitative research and point outthat although this study was not “fully ethnographic”, it does fit intothe ethnographic tradition. In the latter part of the chapter I describethe key components of the research design.There were four main reasons why I chose a qualitative approachfor this study. A qualitative approach is appropriate for research thathas a “discovery orientation” (McMilIan & Schumacher, 1989), it ishelpful in the study of tacit dimensions of behaviour and thought(Marshall & Rossman, 1989), it allows the participants’ perspectives tobe portrayed and valued (Marshall & Rossman, 1989), and it has provedsuccessful in the study of women’s work and the work of other non-dominant social groups, such as child care workers generally (Miller,Mauksch & Statham, 1988). I shall now examine each of these reasonsin more detail.McMillan & Schumacher (1989) state that “traditionally . . . aqualitative method is chosen because the researcher is in a discoveryorientation” (p. 179). There is no published research to date that dealsspecifically with adult learning in SAC. This study required an19approach that would allow me to gather a variety of information andallow patterns and themes to emerge.A qualitative approach is also helpful in uncovering tacitdimensions of behaviour and thought. In exploratory research theresearcher needs a certain amount of interaction with the informantsin order to negotiate the meaning of questions, comments, events andbehaviours. Comparing quantitative and qualitative methods, Marshall& Rossman (1989) assert:The research techniques themselves, in experimentalresearch, have affected the findings. The lab, thequestionnaire, and so on, have become artifacts. Subjectsare either suspicious and wary, or they are aware of whatthe researchers want and try to please them. Additionally,subjects do not know their feelings, interactions andbehaviours, so they cannot articulate them to respond to aquestionnaire. One cannot understand human behaviorwithout understanding the framework within whichsubjects interpret their thoughts, feelings, and actions (p.48).Marshall & Rossman (1989) point out that sometimes research subjectsare not aware of many of their thoughts, or actions. In order tounderstand what a research subject really means by a certain commentor the complex series of thoughts that accompany a skillful set ofactions, the researcher and the subject may have to participate in “thejoint construction of meaning” (Mishler, 1986), negotiating what eachparty means through an interactive dialogue. Only then can an20understanding of the tacit dimensions of behaviour and thought beapproached with confidence.Qualitative methods are also appropriate when value is placed onthe perspectives and perceptions of the people being studied. From thebeginning I felt that the words and actions of the people who wereactually involved in the work should be valued and respected asessential sources of information. This study relies heavily on thewords that the SACWs themselves use to describe what they did andwhat they thought. It also relies on descriptions of these SACWs inaction. Marshall & Rossman (1989) point out that, as a process ofinquiry and as a set of methods, the qualitative approach is appropriatefor research that:values participants’ perspectives on their worlds and seeksto discover those perspectives, that views inquiry as aninteractive process between the researcher and theparticipants, and that is primarily descriptive and relies onpeople’s words as the primary data (p. 11).Miller, Mauksch & Statham (1988) point out that “qualitativemethodologies bring into central focus the points of view of thosebeing studied and their active participation in constructing worlds” (p.311). One of the main purposes of this research was to hear the voicesof ten SACWs as they talked about their learning and the meaning thatthey give to their work. Speaking about a qualitative study of six21preschool teachers, Ayers (1989) maintains that “[preschool] teachersare dignified when they are assumed to be a rich and powerful sourceof knowledge about teaching, when they are looked upon as people whoare essential in making some sense out of the intricate and complexphenomena that they know best” (p. 2). The same can be said of theSACW5 in this study.Qualitative approaches to research have also proven successful inthe study of women’s work and that of other non-dominant socialgroups (such as child care workers). It is worth noting here that mostchild care workers are women. Miller, Mauksch & Statham (1988) holdthat “the active role of women in the social construction of a workreality that is uniquely theirs would have remained beyond the grasp ofthose adhering to a deductive, positivistic perspective” (p. 310).Qualitative methods allow the researcher to negotiate a level of trustwith the informants and stimulate meaningful dialogue that values theinformants’ own ways of knowing and previous experience.In this study I did not set out to “prove” anything - although asthe research progressed I felt that it was important to demonstratethat SACWs do indeed reflect upon their practice. As Ayers (1989) hassaid of his study involving preschool teachers “we do not, of course,end up with the truth, but perhaps more modestly with a burgeoningsense of meaning and knowing grounded in real people and concrete22practices” (p. 4). The same can be said of this study.The Ethnographic TraditionAs a qualitative approach, ethnography focuses on (among otherthings) “the importance of understanding the perspectives of thepeople under study, and of observing their activities in everyday life”(Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983). McMillan & Schumacher (1989)describe ethnography in the following way:Ethnography is interactive research which requiresextensive time in the field to observe, interview, andrecord processes as they occur naturally in a selected site.Although there is no specific set of researchprocedures, as in statistical analysis, there are commonmethodological strategies which distinguish it from othertypes of inquiry: participant observation, ethnographicinterviews, and archival collection. Most ethnographicstudies are exploratory or discovery-oriented research tounderstand people’s views of their world and to developnew theories. Ethnographies frequently identify areas ofinquiry which prior research had not considered importantor even recognized (p. 383, emphasis in original).Ayers (1989), borrowing from other authors, describesethnography in the following way:“Doing ethnography” consists of “gathering fieldnotes inthe context of fieldwork” (Wolcott, n.d.). Clifford Geertz(1973) offers a textbook definition of “doing ethnography”as “establishing rapport, selecting informants, transcribingtexts, taking genealogies, mapping fields, keeping a diary,and so on” (pg. 6). Producing an ethnography, on the otherhand, is the result of rigorous analysis and paying rivetedattention to field notes. “Being there” (Geertz, 1988) and23then portraying a different life in the context of a specificculture - conveying the insider’s sense-making view - isthe essence of ethnography (p. 11).This study utilized a combination of ethnographic techniques. Itconsisted of ten observations and ten in-depth interviews. I also kepta reflexive journal to keep track of my changing perceptions andthoughts throughout the research process.The approach to the research cannot be called “fullyethnographic” because it did not involve a prolonged study (i.e. over 12months) and the primary focus was not on culture and the “webs ofsignificance” (Geertz, 1973) of a group of people who interact witheach other and share meanings with each other on a consistent basis.However, the research was firmly grounded within the realm ofethnographic tradition. The intent of the research was to observespecific behaviours and to listen attentively as SACW5 told theirstories. This research represents a serious attempt to accuratelyreflect the perspectives of the SACWs and to understand the sense thatthey were making out of their actions, their learning, and their workwith children.The Informants (SACWs)The ten SACWs who participated in this study were chosenbecause they met the following selection criteria:1) they were willing to participate in the study,242) they each had over one year of work experience in SAC,3) they were identified by their supervisor as someone whowanted to learn more about working with children,4) they identified themselves as persons who were interested inlearning more about working with children.All SACWs were recommended to me by child care agency supervisors.Five child care agencies in Vancouver consented to involve SACWs inthe project. Eight child care centres were involved. These centreswere located in various parts of the city. Four centres were located inneighbourhoods that could be characterized as being middle to high interms of socio-economic status, and four were located inneighbourhoods that could be characterized as middle to low socioeconomic status. All the centres were licensed by the Province(through the City’s Health Department), and thus all met the minimumrequirements in the field.I cannot claim that the informants in this study arerepresentative of all SACWs. This research must be seen as a set ofparticular cases in particular settings, not as a report on arepresentative group (see Gaskell, 1987). While the research is notrepresentative nor is it generalizable, it may be “transferable”(Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The findings in Context A may be transferable25to Context B if Context A and Context B are sufficiently similar.Lincoln and Guba (1985) discuss the concepts of transferability andfittingness:How can one tell whether a working hypothesis developed inContext A might be applicable in Context B ? We suggestthat the answer to that question must be empirical: thedegree of transferability is a direct function of thesimilarity between the two contexts, what we shall call“fittingness”. Fittingness is defined as the degree ofcongruence between sending and receiving contexts. IfContext A and Context B are “sufficiently” congruent, thenworking hypotheses from the sending originating contextmay be applicable in the receiving context (p. 124, emphasisin original).The SACWs involved in the study were between the ages of 22 and37 years. Two of the informants had just over 1 year of experienceworking in SAC. Two more had just over 2 years of experience, threeinformants had approximately 3 years of experience, one had almost 4years of experience and the other two informants had 8 and 10 years ofSAC experience. Four of the SACWs were full-time employees (40hours per week) at their respective centres. The other 6 SACWs werepart-time employees averaging between 21 and 35 hours of paid workper week. Two informants indicated that they did not plan to stay inthe SAC field in the next year. One informant was planning a careerworking with children with special needs and was leaving the SACcentre to pursue an education in that field. One informant was planning26to take maternity leave and then hoped to open her own family day careonce her child was born. The other 6 informants indicated that theywould like to work in SAC for at least the next year, if not longer.Two of the informants had Diplomas in Early ChildhoodEducation (ECE) and three other informants had university degrees (onehad a degree in Recreation Management, one in Physical Education, andone in Chemistry). The rest had high school graduation as a minimum.All of the SACWs had received some form of work related in-servicetraining from their agency. Four out of the ten had also taken one ormore college-level courses directly related to SAC.Eight of the ten SACWs were women, two were men. Womenmake up the vast majority of child care workers (see for exampleNelson, 1990; Ayers, 1989; Tom, 1993). But it is also important torecognize that men also work in the field. In this study I wanted toreflect the voices of both male and female SACWs. I also felt that itwas important to present more than one male voice. While the use oftwo male informants may constitute a form of “oversampling”, Ibelieve that it is justified in order to hear voices from both sexes.The ObservationsThis study included ten observations of SACWs in action. All theobservations took place at SAC centres and were done in theafternoons. I arrived approximately one half hour before the children27arrived so that I could do a detailed description of the centre. Theylasted until the end of the program session at six p.m. Eachobservation was three and a half hours in length.In each observation I focussed on one individual SACW and herinteractions with children. I took detailed notes almost every time theSACW interacted with children - what was said, what was done, andthe immediate outcome of each interaction. After the observation thefield notes were typed out and reviewed. Certain incidents andepisodes were then highlighted for possible further discussion duringthe interviews. Most of the episodes discussed in the interviewinvolved what I judged to be skilled performances by the SACWs. Inthis way a major part of the interviews revolved around real eventsand the practices of each individual SACW.During the observations I took on the role of a participantobserver. As well as observing and taking notes I interacted withchildren and helped out in little ways where ever I could. I adoptedthis role for two reasons. First, it is a more natural role than an adultdistancing himself from the action and taking notes. Children are usedto seeing adults helping out in a child care setting. It allowed a morenatural flow of activity and conversation to take place. Second, itallowed me to get a feel for the demands of the SACWs’ work (althoughI was a SACW myself for 3 years). Most SAC afternoons have a rough28temporal flow to them - there is an initial excitement and energy whenthe children first arrive, then things settle down for a bit, and then,late in the afternoon, there is a “tired” phase when children and adultsare likely to run out of energy. My participant-observer role allowedme to experience this flow in much the same way as the informantswere experiencing it which helped me to put many of the SACWs’actions and comments into an appropriate context.The InterviewsThe research project also included ten interviews. Eachinterview was done after the observation so that data from theobservation could be discussed in the interview. Each interview tookplace within one week of the observation. Interviews were done invarious locations: four were done at the centres when children werenot present, three at administrative/head offices, one was done in thestands of an aquatic centre, and one was done in a coffee shop. Eachinformant was interviewed once. All interviews were tape recordedand later transcribed. The interviews lasted between one and a halfand two and a half hours, with the average lasting about two hours.The interviews could be characterized as “in-depth” rather thanstructured interviews with standardized questions. Because I wasparticularly interested in allowing the description of learning in SACto emerge from the point of view of the learners themselves, the29questions asked in the interview were open-ended. Mishler (1986)maintains that “the discourse of the interview is jointly constructedby interviewer and respondent”(pg. 52). The informants were given thepower to negotiate the meaning of questions and answers, and to telltheir stories in their own words and in their own time. As Marshall &Rossman (1989) point out “the participant’s perspective on the socialphenomenon of interest should unfold as the participant views it, notas the researcher views it”(p. 82). The direction and flow of eachinterview was dictated, in large part, by the Informants.While the interviews were open-ended, they were also focussed.Each interview could be characterized as a “conversation with apurpose” (Marshall & Rossman, 1989, p. 82). The interviews focussedupon the SACWs’ work histories in child care, their beliefs and goalsregarding their work with children, and their conceptions of learning,including what they learn and how. The interviews also focussed onvarious incidents and episodes that took place during the observationand the thoughts and thought processes of the SACWs as they wereinvolved in these incidents and episodes.Data Collection & AnalysisData was collected from the observations and the interviews.During the observations I took extensive field notes. Care was taken tominimize any interruptions to the natural flow of the SAC programs30and, at the same time, to maximize the accuracy of the details ofactions and speech within the settings. These hand-written “scratchnotes” were then expanded into type-written text very soon after theobservation (usually that evening).Each interview was tape-recorded and transcriptions were made.The transcripts were then checked against the tape-recordings. Eachinformant was given a copy of the transcript of their particularinterview and asked to make any changes that they thought would helpthe transcript to more accurately reflect what they were trying toexpress during each interview. Events noted in the observationtranscripts and subsequently discussed during the interviews weremarked so they could easily be connected to one another. This was doneso that I could easily refer to both the informant’s words and heractions.Marshall & Rossman (1989) characterize the data analysis phaseof qualitative research in the following way:Data analysis is the process of bringing order, structure,and meaning to the mass of collected data. It is a messy,ambiguous, time-consuming, and fascinating process. Itdoes not proceed in a linear fashion; it is not neat.Qualitative data analysis is a search for generalstatements about relationships among categories of data(p. 112).The data analysis proceeded in a series of “rounds”. As I read31through the observation notes and the interview transcripts for thefirst round, I began to attach labels (titles) to issues, patterns andthemes as they emerged. If an Informant stressed a point or spent aconsiderable amount of time discussing an issue it was given a label.Labels were also given to themes that came up repeatedly in oneinterview or came up independently in several interviews. These labelsthen represented the initial concepts that were then refined, and insome cases transformed, as the research progressed. There was aconstant interplay between the concepts that emerged from the dataand concepts that I found in the literature that helped me to betterunderstand some of the patterns that I found in the data.As the successive rounds of analysis progressed and as theconcepts emerged from the data (for example the tool box, the GoldenRule, “sane communication”, reflection-in-action, etc.) the transcriptswere analyzed several times for positive and negative instances. Thedirect quotations from the observations and the interviews werechecked to ensure that the informant’s words were consistent bothwith the specific context of those words and with the informant’sentire interview and observation transcripts taken as a coherent whole.I used my reflexive journal to keep track of the initial labels andthe evolution of those labels over time. One example of such anevolution involved three initial concepts that I first labelled as “own32childhood” (informants talking about various aspects of their ownchildhood), “communication” (informants discussing how and why theycommunicate in cerLain ways with children), and “respect” (Informantsdiscussing the concept of respecting oneself and/or respecting others).Much of what was included in these initial concepts was refined abouta month later into a broader concept that I labelled “purpose” becauseit was primarily through these three initial concepts that theinformants stated the purposes that they ascribed to their work. Theconcept of purpose was refined once more into the concept labelled“reflection about purpose” because this latter concept more accuratelyreflected the thought processes that accompanied the SACWs’comments about the purposes of their work with children. The label“reflection about purpose” was finally incorporated into either theconcept labelled “reflection-on-action” or the one labelled“reflection-in-action” (Schon 1983, 1990), depending on whether theSACW was simply making a comment about her purpose or actuallydescribing how that purpose shaped her response in the midst of action.In terms of the evolution of the analytical concepts, then, Iinitially perceived the informants’ talk about their childhood as simplythat - talk about childhood. But as the research progressed it becameclear that many of the Informants were using talk about their ownchildhoods in order to express what they thought the purpose of their33work with children was. As the research progressed even further itbecame clear that not only were the Informants talking about thepurpose of their work, they were also describing an important avenuethrough which they constructed the purpose of that work. And finally Ibegan to understand that the SACWs’ thoughts about purpose fellnaturally into two categories which had implications for adulteducation in the field (this will be discussed in the final chapter). Atheoretical framework emerged through this interactive dialoguebetween the data and the emerging themes and patterns.The Reflexive JournalDuring the study I kept a personal journal containing subjectivethoughts, emerging ideas, initial patterns, and reflections on theresearch process itself. PrelI (1989) defines reflexivity as “thecapacity to arouse consciousness of ourselves as we see the actions ofourselves and others” (p. 251). Anderson (1989) defines it as the“self-reflective processes that keep [the researcher’s] criticalframework from becoming the container into which the data arepoured” (p. 254). The researcher must constantly be aware of himselfas a research instrument. Hammersley & Atkinson (1983) urgequalitative researchers “to recognize the reflexive character of socialresearch; that is, to recognize that we are part of the social world westudy” (p. 14).34The reflexive journal was used to record unedited thoughts aboutthe people involved in the research, my feelings about the settings andevents that were observed, my concerns and frustrations regarding theresearch process (both in the field and at the University), and thoughtsabout how I was personally affected throughout the study. The journalalso contained the “decision path” of the research - it described thetrail of logistical and analytic decisions that were made during thestudy. In the journal I often asked myself; “what decisions an I makingabout this research ?“ and “how am I making those decisions 7”As mentioned, the journal reveals some marked (and some subtle)changes in the categories that were used to analyze the transcriptdata. It also reveals changes in my perceptions of the phenomena understudy. Here is an example of this type of reflexivity.Journal entry for February 7, 1993:The whole idea of reflection-in-practice is becomingclearer for me. Effective, “professional” SACWs constantlyreflect upon their practice - perceiving options, linkingvalues, trying out new ideas. . . Gaining more and moreability to think about your action in common and not-so-common child care situations. “Read and react”, but select- know where you want to help the child(ren) get to, butfiguring out what is going to be the most likely strategychoice and (if that strategy doesn’t work), the nextstrategy-choice, etc.The journal also contains an example of myself as the researcherengaged in reflection-in-action, a major concept to emerge from the35data (and from the writings of Donald Schon). This example isdescribed in detail in Chapter Five. The heightened experience ofreflection-in-action marked a turning point in the research process.After experiencing reflection-in-action, I had a much greaterappreciation for many of the stories that the SACWs told within theinterview data. The reflexive journal echoes the words of Wax (1980)when he states that “in many cases, the finest insights of thefieldworker are developed from interaction within the self” (p. 277).36Chapter Three:The Research Question & Theoretical FrameworkIn this chapter I will begin by stating the original researchquestion and will then trace the evolution of that question into a set ofmore specific and more refined questions. In the latter part of thischapter I will describe the emergence of the theoretical frameworkwhich informs this study. The theoretical framework is made up oftwo components, and each will be discussed in detail.The Original Research QuestionI shall use the phrase “the original research question” to refer tothe question that formed the foundation of the study. I shall also referto the original question in the present tense because it serves as aguiding light and a directional beacon throughout the entire researchprocess. The original research question is: “How do SACWs learn tobecome more effective in their work with children ?“ As the fieldworkprogressed the research question evolved. A series of more specificquestions began to assume a more prominent position in the researchprocess. My focus on adult learning led naturally to an interest in thethoughts and thought processes of the SACWs who participated in thestudy. The evolution of the question began when I “struggled” with the37fact that several of the SACWs initially denied that they thought aboutanything when they were involved in the execution of specific skillfulperformances (this initial denial is discussed in more detail in ChapterFour). This forced me to ask a very basic question: “ SACWs thinkabout and reflect upon their work ?“ This question will be addressedin Chapter Four.I analyzed the data and found many positive instances of SACWsthinking about their work. A question arose about the content of thesethinking instances. “Are there any patterns or principles that underliethe thinking that accompanies effective practice ?“. This questionwill also be addressed in Chapter Four. The instances of SACWsthinking about their work fell naturally into two categories: 1)reflection-on-action and; 2) reflection-in-action (see Schon, 1983,1990). A question then arose about the implications of thesecategories for adult education in the SAC field. This question isaddressed in Chapter Five.Throughout the research process the original question has servedto focus the fieldwork and the data analysis. Although the question hasevolved and has become informed by the issues that emerged from thedata, the focus has always been on adult learning in SAC.Before I move on to discuss the theoretical framework for thisstudy there is one issue that I must deal with regarding the original38research question. There is a conceptual tension inherent in thephrasing of the original question. This tension revolves around thedifference between how SACWs learn (process) and what they learn(content). The tension also involves the difference between describingthe acquisition of effective strategies, and describing SACWs engagedin effective practice. Both types of descriptions are useful inunderstanding adult learning in SAC. The research question can beaddressed by identifying both the processes of change (for example byclaiming that SACWs learn by reflecting more consciously), and byidentifying the contents of change (for example by listing skills andconcepts that SACW5 describe when they talk about their ownlearning). Process and content are interconnected. Reflection onaction involves thinking about content, which in turn can lead to agreater awareness of how one operates and on discrepancies betweenhow one operates and how one intends to operate. Describing thecontent of one’s learning can lead to reflection on action which in turncan lead to awareness of patterns and transformational events.The process of learning in SAC is closely connected to thecontent of that learning. Hounsell (1984), writing about content andprocess in adult education has stated that “we turn from content toprocess, from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’ of learning. This is a shift ofemphasis rather than a substantive change. Content and process are39complementary and interrelated aspects of the experience of learningand teaching” (p. 197). Content and process are interwoven. WhatSACWs learn, and how they learn it, are different elements of the samephenomenon. This is why I have included content topics (such as theGolden Rule and sane communication) and process topics (such asreflection on action and reflective performances) in the answer to theresearch question.The evolution of the research question stimulated theconstruction of a theoretical framework for this study. Thetheoretical framework is made up of two key concepts: 1) learning asfirst-order and second-order change; and, 2) a developmentalperspective on the growth of SACWs. I shall now discuss each of theseconcepts in more detail.Learning as First-order and Second-order ChangeThe phenomenon of learning can have many definitions. CoolieVerner, a pioneer in Canadian adult education, defined learning as:a change in behaviour that is more or less permanent. Thischange in behaviour may be the acquisition of information; anew capability such as a manipulative skill, an intellectualskill, or a cognitive strategy; or it may include attitudes,appreciations, or values. It is more or less permanent tothe degree that the new entity is integrated into thecognitive structure and becomes a usable element in thememory system (1975, p. 179).40Another adult education writer, David Little (1980) has outlinedtwo different ways to define learning:Psychologists define learning in a number of ways.Berelson and Steiner (1964) define it as a change inbehavior that results from previous behavior in similarsituations, as opposed to changes due to physiologicalvariations such as growth, deterioration, hunger, fatigue,alcohol or sleep, while Briggs (1976) proposes thatlearning is the process of gaining or changing insights,outlooks, expectations or thought patterns (p. 6).The above quotation highlights the fact that learning can be viewed asa change in behaviour and it can also be viewed as a process of gaininginsight or changing thought patterns.This latter view of learning is consistent with Marion et al’s(1984) qualitative conception of learning. Dahlgren (1984) hasasserted that “to learn is to strive for meaning, and to have learnedsomething is to have grasped its meaning” (pp. 23-24). Dahlgrenfurther maintains that “we can . . . define learning itself as a change inconception. In other words, when learning has occurred, there is ashift from one conception to another which is qualitatively distinct”(p. 31). In the same vein, Hounsell (1984) states that:when something has been genuinely understood . . . it isperceived as helping [the learners] to make sense of theworld around them. In its fullest sense, therefore, learninginvolves a change in the [learners’] conception of someaspect of reality. It is activity through which theenvironment - or man [sic] himself- appears with a higher41degree of meaningfulness than before (pg. 192).During the interviews conducted for this study, SACWs describedboth types of learning - learning as the acquisition of discrete piecesof information, and “learning as a change in the learner’sunderstanding” (Entwistle & Marton, 1984, p. 227). The work of Maler(1986) helped me to reconcile these two views of learning. Maier(1986) writes about “first-order and second-order change” in thecontext of learning in the child care field. According to Maier, “first-order change relies upon step-by-step incremental learning,expansively building upon previous capabilities while simultaneouslymodifying what has been learned before” (1986, p. 37). He contraststhis with what he calls “second-order change” which involves a morequalitative change, a transformation from one level of perceiving toanother, higher level.First-order change is incremental, linear, and progressive. Itinvolves a quantitative progression of change from “less” to “more”and/or from “fewer in number” to “greater in number”. Maier statesthat “first-order change is important for learning when the goal is theachievement of incremental gains in the learner’s acquisition ofknowledge which is basically quantitative” (p. 39).In the data there were several examples of first-order change. A42new SACW can experience a great deal of first-order change during herorientation (most centres have some sort of orientation process fornew staff: see Sisson, 1990 and Arns, 1988). Betty is the Director ofher centre and is in charge of orienting new staff. During the interviewshe said:I’ve got a whole staff orientation package that I take [thenew staff] through when they start. We go through their jobdescriptions and their daily routines, and the mostimportant things I tell them when they first start is “Getto know the daily routines, and get to know the children” .I try to have everything as organized for the new staff aspossible . . . up on this bulletin board are the daily routines;Monday housekeeping, end of day closing, so that it’s allthere in print for them.In Betty’s orientation process a new staff person would learnabout the daily routines of the centre and her duties therein. She wouldalso learn about the program and would get to know the children (theirnames, interests, potential behaviours, etc.). Once the new SACWlearns one of the routines, the rest of the routines are simply added on.The same could be said about learning her duties and about getting toknow the children (on a surface level at least).Often first-order change involves very small, concrete additionsto the child care worker’s skill or idea repertoire. This can be seen inthe following excerpt from Cindy’s interview:Anything I can learn from anybody - things to do, what touse, you know. I’ve got a friend and I go to him all the time43to ask for little boy stuff, and he comes up with theseobscure crafts that I would never have thought of in amillion years, and I couldn’t wait, I came in and shared itwith everybody at [the child care agency]. Now everybody’sgoing to do it at their centre with their little boys.When Cindy learns a new craft, she is adding to her existing stock-pileof craft ideas.Additions to one’s skill or activity idea repertoire can also comein the form of methods to get children’s attention. In one observation Iwitnessed Andrea getting the children’s attention by clapping her handsloudly to the beat of the rock n’ roll song “We will rock you”. Sheexplains:I learned it at [another Centre] when I was there . . . when Ilift my hands [and clap to the beat] it’s just the pattern orthe beat and they hear it and they do it right away andeverybody responds . . . everyone quiets down and its reallygood because I’m not yelling, and it’s really - what’s theword I’m looking for - instantaneous, when I want them tobe quiet they all join in for a while, then I stop and thenthey stop, and then everything is quiet.Here Andrea focuses on the usefulness of the technique that she haslearned. This technique does not, in and of itself, help her to perceivegetting children’s attention in a different light. It simply helps her doit in a more efficient way.Many experienced, skilled SACWs have a large repertoire of skillsand activity ideas. They collect (i.e. learn) these ideas as they go about44their work. This “collector’s attitude” is evident in this next excerpt.Danielle is talking about formal child care courses that she has taken.I took a . . . course at Continuing Education . . . and they didgames and things for kids . . . I think there’s always thingslike that that I can learn, like maybe different ideas that Imight not have thought of before. . . So I’m always lookingfor new ideas, yeah. And I like people telling me aboutother ideas, you know.Other examples of first-order change in SAC can be drawn fromthe literature. When writing about staff development, Seligson andAllenson (1993) use the following example:as a result of a one-to-one supervisory session,perhaps a PD [Program Director] and caregiver agree thatthe caregiver’s activity planning for nine- to twelve- yearolds lacks creativity. Shortly thereafter, a local R & R[child care resource and referral agency] queries the PDabout possible workshop topics for an up-coming day careconference. In this case the PD might suggest “Can’t-MissGames for Older Kids” and encourage the caregiver toattend (p. 169).This example clearly shows that learning to become more effective cantake the form of adding ideas and skills to an already existingstockpile. After attending the workshop, the caregiver should havemore ideas and a greater number of games that are appropriate forolder children.In one sense, then, SACWs can learn to become more effective intheir work with children by acquiring and accumulating an ever-45growing repertoire of discrete skills and activity ideas. Musson andGibbons (1988) have referred to the acquisition of these skills andactivity ideas as “the tool-box approach” (pp. 47-48). . For the mostpart the tool-box approach involves first-order change and incrementallearning. Many activity ideas, discipline strategies and communicationskills can be thought of as tools - concrete methods that can beinstrumentally applied to the situation at hand. Many SACWs considerthe acquisition of tools for the tool-box as an important way ofbecoming more effective in their work with school-aged children.Second-order change involves fundamental shifts in the learner’sthinking, “a reframing of previous learning which serves as aspringboard for a transformation to new levels of comprehension”(Maler, 1986, p. 37). It denotes a transformation from one level toanother. It is a process that reorganizes the learning at the previouslevel while simultaneously creating a new and higher level ofunderstanding. Maier states that “a second-order change isidentifiable because a transformation to a new state occurs. It is anon-linear process with previous operations being altered to new anddifferent linear configurations” (1986, p. 38). When a person isinvolved in second-order change she begins to perceive the phenomenonunder study in a new light, that is, in a qualitatively different way thanbefore.46Some examples of second-order change from the fieldwork arelisted below. Each example is followed by a brief analysis that focuseson the main point(s) of the excerpt. In the examples the SACWs aretalking about learning something that has changed the way theyperceive their work and has fundamentally shifted how they work withchildren.During the interview I asked Andrea to compare the skills andknowledge that she has now with those she had when she first startedworking with children. She said:I used to yell at kids a lot more. I really used to yell a lotand then I came to realize, okay, I was yelling too muchand that wasn’t the best way to deal with them.The realization that yelling at children is not the best way to deal withthem is an important one for any SACW. It is difficult, if notimpossible, to become more effective with children constantly yellat them. It is generally accepted that listening to children andnegotiating meaning with them is far more effective than trying todominate, intimidate or manipulate them (Faber & Mazlish, 1982;Gordon, 1989; Albrecht, 1991, Wasserman, 1990). Second-order changefor SACWs can come about when they begin to question the myth that“children should be seen and not heard”, and the myth that children aresomehow second-class citizens because they are not adults. When a47SACW questions these myths, she can experience a breakthrough in herefforts to become more effective. When the SACW examines some ofthe assumptions that underlie common ideas that adults have aboutchildren and child care she can begin to perceive her work in a newway.As we can see in this next excerpt, a second-order change cancome about when the SACW questions the assumption that “adults haveall the answers”. During the interview Cindy said:I realized early [in my career] that I don’t have all theanswers, and if I think I do, then I’m really stumped . . . NowI make a conscious effort not to give all the answers,because I can’t . . . Now I say to the children “Yeah, we aregoing solve this”. I like that “we” rather than me come upwith all the solutions.She realized that she must work with the children to solve many of theproblems that arise in the course of day-to-day SAC. The influence ofthis realization was evident in her responses to children during theobservation. Rather than answer most of the children’s questions forthem, Cindy made obvious efforts to help the children work things outfor themselves. Here is an excerpt from the observation data.Cindy introduces me to two children who have arrived atthe centre early - from a private school. She introduces meas her “instructor’ (she took a course from me a few weeksago at Langara). One of the children asks “What’s aninstructor ?“ Cindy replies by asking both of the children“What is the smaller word in ‘instructor’?” One of thechildren replies “instruct”. Cindy then asks them “What48does instruct mean ?“ One of the children replies “Instructmeans to teach”. Then Cindy prompts “So an instructor is.?“ One of the children replies excitedly “Its a teacher”.Cindy then cheerfully says “See, you guys could figure itout.” The two children seem comfortable with this type ofinteraction with Cindy. They respond as if this is a regulartype of interaction - the questions and the counter-questions.I note later in the observation that Cindy asks the children manyquestions in order to help them solve problems or discover informationcollaboratively.In Frank’s interview I asked him to compare the skills andknowledge that he has now to those that he had when he first beganworking with children. He stated:the biggest difference . . . [is] . . . my ability to be able tounderstand children, I guess. There’s a few things, but Iguess probably the main thing is my ability to communicatewith children and to understand their feelings. It’s a loteasier now to say “You seem upset” or “You look like youare angry”, and be able to reflect back their feelings.Whereas when I first started [working with children] I wasprobably totally oblivious to those things.When Frank compares his new skills and knowledge to his old ones it isobvious that he has learned to perceive things differently now. Whenhe first started, he was “totally oblivious” to the ways in which adultscan effectively communicate with children. While his new way ofcommunicating involves the learning of some concrete skills, it also49involves a change in perspective. It challenges the common myths thatadults are somehow superior to children and that children shouldsimply be told what to do. Frank has learned that trying to understandchildren and trying to reflect their feelings back to them are ways oftreating children as equals and with respect. This way ofcommunicating respectfully with children was very obvious during myobservation of Frank as he worked with the children. He consistentlyspoke to the children in this manner throughout the observation.In summary, learning in SAC can take the form of additive,incremental learning, or a change in understanding. First-order changeis often easier to identify because it is discrete and tangible. Second-order change is sometimes less visible, but definitely impacts the day-to-day practice of the SACW. The concept of learning as first- andsecond-order change helped me to better understand that adult learningin SAC can be viewed from a developmental perspective.A Developmental Perspective on Adult Learning in SACSeveral authors have written about the stages of a child careworker’s professional development (Katz, 1977; Vander Ven, 1988;Hills, 1989; Pence and Griffin, 1991). Writing about preschoolteachers, Katz states that they:can generally be counted on to talk about developmentalneeds and stages when they discuss children. It may beequally meaningful to think of teachers themselves as50having developmental sequences in their professionalgrowth patterns (1977, p. 7).While different authors have different labels for the developmentalstages of a child care worker, the overall idea that they do developthrough stages is common to the authors cited above.There are four developmental stages in Katz’s progression.Stage one is the “Survival” stage. During this stage “the teacher’smain concern is whether or not she can survive” (p. 7, emphasis inoriginal). At this point in her development the teacher needs“instruction in specific skills” (p. 8). In other words she needs toengage primarily in first-order change - the acquisition of tools forher tool-box. Hills (1989) outlines a “developmental process of skillacquisition” (p.17) for child care workers.Beginning child and youth care workers rely on structuredguidelines and context-free rules. At this point in theirlearning process they lack the relevant experiencesnecessary to guide them in applying their newly acquiredknowledge and skills so they apply rules as if they wereappropriate in alt circumstances (p. 20).Using a slightly different developmental framework, Pence andGriffin, following the work of Vander Ven (1988), posit that there aretwo “beginner” stages in a CCW’s development into a competentpractitioner - Stage 1 (Novice), and Stage 2 (Initial).stage one or novice practitioners are described as preprofessionals. The level of practice is mainly determined51by personal experiences, values and beliefs rather than atheoretical understanding of the developmental,behavioural, and individual needs of the children in theircare. Initial or stage two practitioners have made acommitment to the field by participating in some form ofeducational preparation. Their behaviour at this secondstage, although ‘conceptually unsophisticated’ . . . is basedon developmental theory which they apply in linear waysand which is still very much influenced by their personalvalue systems (1991, p. 25).According to Vander Ven, these stage two or initial practitioners “mayshow a ‘flavor’ of professionalism [in their work], but they may not beable to explain the reasons for what they do” (1988, p. 144, emphasisadded).While every SACW needs to continually strive to enhance thenumber of tools in her tool-box, first-order change seems to be mostcogent for SACWs who are at the beginning stages of their professionaldevelopment. Inexperienced SACWs who are in the beginning stages oftheir growth into consistently competent practitioners needstraightforward skills training and activity ideas. As Jones (1993) haspointed out, these learners need concrete suggestions which clarify theexpectations for their work and give them practical recipes for gettingstarted.It should be noted that some SACWs who have been been workingwith children for many years may still fit into the beginner stages if52they do not reflect upon their experience. As Vander Ven has forcefullypointed out:The most salient characteristic of novices is that theyfunction as nonprofessionals, whether they are brand-newto the field or have been working for a number of years.This characterization is based on the fundamental premisethat experience alone is not sufficient to provideprofessional competence (1988, p. 141).Katz calls the second stage in a preschool teacher’s developmentthe “Consolidation” stage, wherein the preschool teacher “is now readyto consolidate the overall gains made during the first stage and todifferentiate specific tasks and skills to be mastered next” (p. 8). Thelearner is developing the wherewithal to begin to take control overmany of her learning tasks and begin to author her own care-givingscript.Katz’s third stage is the “Renewal” stage. During this stage:the teacher begins to tire of doing the same old things. Shestarts to ask more questions about new developments in thefield: “Who is doing what 7 Where ? What are some of thenew materials, techniques, approaches, and ideas ?“ . . . and• . her need for renewal and refreshment should be takenseriously (p. 10).Reflecting on her practice with the intention of creating deeperlearning, and dialoguing with other learning-oriented colleagues canprove to be quite productive at this stage.Katz’s fourth stage is the “Maturity” stage.53The teacher at this stage has come to terms with herself asa teacher. She now has enough perspective to begin to beginto ask deeper and more abstract questions, such as: “Whatare my historical and philosophical roots ? What is thenature of growth and learning 7 How are educationaldecisions made 7 Can schools change society ? Is teachinga profession ?“ Perhaps she has asked these questionsbefore. But with the experience she has now gained, thequestions represent a more meaningful search for insight,perspective, and realism (p. 11).The mature practitioner is aware of her goals, options, choices, andbehaviours. She is self-reflective and intentional. Similarly, Penceand Griffin (1991) claim that early childhood practitioners who are inthe more evolved stages of their development “have developed theability to integrate their knowledge and experience into a personalframe of reference which expands their thinking and competence [and]helps them address more advanced problems” (p. 25). For Vander Ven(1988), advanced practitioners “have an intimate and grounded grasp ofthe multifaceted aspects of the field” (p. 154).Writing about the overall developmental stages of preschoolteachers, Jones (1993) asserts that:Inexperienced, untrained teachers still in the survival stage(Katz, 1977) need straightforward training - socialknowledge - that clarifies the expectations for their workand gives them recipes for getting started. Once teachershave developed a repertoire of group-management skills andactivities that keep children interested, they are ready toconstruct their own knowledge through reflecting onpractice, being challenged to grow, and making some54choices about their rate and direction of growth (p. xvi,emphasis added).While the writings about these developmental stages has referredalmost exclusively to preschool teachers, adult teaching and learningin SAC can also be viewed from a developmental perspective. At timesfirst-order change is developmentally appropriate, and at other timessecond-order change is appropriate. When answering the question “howdoes a SACW learn to become more effective ?“ the answer willdepend, to a large extent, on what developmental stage the SACW is in,and on how well the SACW’s developmental level matches up with thepresent learning demands of her work.55Chapter Four:Emergent ThemesThe data reported in this chapter represent four themes thatemerged during the fieldwork. These themes involve: the tendency ofsome SACWs to initially deny or downplay the role that their thoughtprocesses play in their skillful action; a description of SACWs thinkingabout their work; and a description of SACWs’ reflections on content -either pertaining to the Golden Rule or to “sane communication”.I begin with the theme entitled “Initial denial” because duringthe fieldwork almost all the SACWs initially seemed predisposed todeny that they thought much about the responses that they gave whenthey worked with children. I move through this theme (because all theSACWs eventually recognized and described their thought process), anddemonstrate that SACW5 do indeed think about their goals, options,choices and behaviours. I have entitled the second theme “SACW5thinking about their work”. The thoughts described in this secondtheme fit into what Schon (1983, 1990) has called “reflection-onaction”. The third and fourth themes both deal with “reflections oncontent”. One is entitled “the Golden Rule” and the other “sanecommunication”. They both describe important thought-content areaswhich characterize skillful performances in SAC. They also describe56key avenues through which adult learning in SAC can take place.Initial DenialOne of the most obvious patterns that struck me during theresearch was the amount of denial that I encountered regarding theattribution of thought processes to specific skillful pertormances bythe SACWs themselves. By the term “denial” I mean that the SACWseither flatly dismissed any suggestion that they thought before acting,or they simply did not recognize that they thought, and chose to claimthat they did not. I use the phrase “initial denial” to indicate that thisactive denial usually occurred as a first response to the suggestionthat a specific skillful action might have been preceded by complexthought. Through negotiation this initial denial invariably gave way toa more realistic description of the antecedents to skillful action - adescription that included a strong connection between thought andskillful action. While it will be demonstrated throughout this paperthat SACW5 do indeed reflect on their practice, the phenomenon ofinitial denial must be examined because it appears, on the surface atleast, to contradict the notion of reflection in SAC work.In almost every interview there were times when the SACWsdenied that they thought about what they were doing. Two things mademe question these statements. First, the SACWs were denying thatthey were engaged in thought when, in fact, I observed them engaged in57skillful performances. It can be said that their skill was jjjtheiraction, and the outcome of the incident was consistent with what theSACW had intended. Second, through a process of negotiation in theinterviews, the denials softened and the SACWs began to admit (orrecognize) and then clearly describe the complex thought processesinvolved in their skillful action.In this section I will present three examples of this phenomenonof denial-negotiation-description. For each example I will presentdata from the observation to help describe the incident as I saw it,then present an excerpt from the interview to describe the situationfrom the SACW’s point of view. Each example will then be followed bya brief analysis.In the first example Frank (the SACW) is involved in a discussionwith three children. During the observation I noted:Frank calls out to three children who are playing outsidenear the door “Hey, Greg, Laurie and Trish”. The threechildren move closer to Frank and Frank also moves closerto them. He continues “Do you remember what I asked youguys to do before ?“. One of the children replies “Yes”,then Frank asks “What did I ask, could you please repeat itback to me ?“. Another one of the children replies “Go seeRene at the park to sign in”. Frank nods his head and thethree children leave to do what they were asked.During the interview I asked Frank what went through his mindjust before he called the children over or just before he spoke to them58or responded to what they said. He answered “It’s not like anythingruns through my head, it just happens”. Later in the interview I askedFrank about the differences in how he works with children now ascompared to when he first started.F: Just my ability to think a lot quicker on my feet. To be ableto go up and to pull experiences out from the past that, wellthis happened before with him or her. If I try it this way willit work ? Because I try it that way it didn’t work, so boom,I’m able to slip into a different way of thinking.S: Now my question, and I’m not trying to trap you oranything, was there any kind of thought process goingon when you called those three children over and whileyou were sort of figuring out what you could say thatwould work ?F: Yes.Frank initially says “It’s not like anything runs through my head,it just happens”. But later in the interview he states that he is nowable to think a lot quicker on his feet. He states that he thinks tohimself “If I try it this way will it work ?“ and implies that hisspecific response to a situation now involves a calculation of the trustthat he has established with the children involved, how familiar theyare with his boundaries and what his history is with each childFor all the interview transcripts in this paper I will use the firstletter of the informant’s pseudonym (for example “F” for Frank), andthe letter “S” for my name59involved. He also states that if he tries a parLicular strategy and itdoes not work he slips into “a different way of thinking”. At the end ofthe excerpt he readily admits that when he called the three childrenover in this situation he did calculate what he would say and how hethought they might respond.In the next example Heather interacts with 2 children - one girlwho has forgotten her math book in her classroom and, later, a boy whois sitting on a dish trolley. The incident with the girl is describedbelow and the description of the incident with the boy unfolds in theinterview itself.The young girl comes into the Centre and quietly asks if she cantalk to Heather. Bending down, Heather listens to what the child has tosay and then responds in a cheerful, enthusiastic voice “Sure you can !“.I wrote in my observation notes “Heather’s response was so cheerfulthat I felt good, and I wasn’t even being spoken to - many of thechildren and staff in the room probably felt the same way”. It wasapparent that Heather’s response put the girl at ease, and it alsoseemed to add more cheer to an already cheery centre.I asked Heather about this incident during the interview.H: Yes, I think in that case I think she forgot somethingthat was important, either her math book or text,something that was important. I was happy that sheremembered to get it. I always try to make itenthusiastic and let them see that I’m happy as well.60So she knows “Hey, I did a good thing. I rememberedsomething that I should have”.S: . . . do you have to sort of think about that before yourespond to make sure it comes off the way you want itto ?H: No, not at all.And later in the interview, talking about the same incident:H: I think with kids when you’re talking to them andtrying to explain something to them if you get down totheir eye level and they can see you at their level theyare not as intimidated. I think looking up all the timedoesn’t make them feel good.S: Certainly I wouldn’t feel too good, especially if thatsomebody was twice my size.H: Yeah, I think so, that’s why I go down to their level.S: I think there’s a message there. It’s like you are saying“I am making an effort to listen to you”. The childknows that somebody is really listening to her. Okay,during the observation there’s a boy sitting on a dishtrolley near where I am sitting. You move over and yousay “Its kind of dangerous there” and you put your handon his shoulder blade and softly said “Come on down”.So I made the note that it was all one smooth,continuous motion the whole moving over, the talking,helping him move down off the trolley. Both you and heseemed to remain happy, and again I felt happy and Iwasn’t even involved, It seemed like a really skilledway and by that I mean that I can think of ten otherways that it could have been done less skillfully, like“Get the hell off . . .“ or something.61H: Demanding that he get down, exactly. Yeah but if I didthat they would feel bad, they would walk away and Iwouldn’t feel good about that because, at least the wayI did it he wasn’t upset or mad at all.When asked if she thought about how she was going to respond tomake sure it came off the way she wanted it to, Heather said “No, notat all.” Yet when I asked her if she thought she would get a differentresponse if she yelled at the child instead, she admitted that shewould. Then she said “I think with kids when you’re talking to themand trying to explain something to them, if you get down to their eyelevel and they can see you at their level, they are not as intimidated. Ithink looking up all the time doesn’t make them feel good” (emphasisadded). She offers a rationale for bending down and making contactwith the child on the child’s eye level.When Heather discusses her response to the boy sitting on thedish trolley she admits that there are ways that she could haveresponded that would have created a situation that she would not want(i.e. the child would feel bad). She also admits that the way sheresponded did, in fact, produce the situation that she had intended toproduce (i.e. “he wasn’t upset or mad at all”). There is ample evidencein Heather’s description of both the incidents with the girl who forgother book and the boy on the the trolley that she had thoughts about thesituations that she wanted to create, and then she tailored her actions62accordingly. In other words, she thought before she acted.In the third example Erica (the SACW) was at the art tableleading a session wherein she and the children were all makingvalentines. Erica looked up from her own valentine and viewed whatthe children were doing. She saw Julia ( a child) making a cardboardarrow to stick through her valentine. Erica said enthusiastically “JuliaThat’s cool, that’s what I’m going to do too”. Erica’s exclamationserved to validate Julia’s creativity and self-direction (the arrow ideawas not part of Erica’s original description of the valentine project),and also served to encourage the other children involved. Erica’scomment also had the potential to send a message to the children -that everyone in the group could be a teacher or a role-model, and thateveryone could be a joyful learner (including Erica).In the interview I asked Erica about this incident.S: Do you have a process of thinking like “What am I goingto say here that would be effective” ?E Not really. I’ve just been around kids . . . I’ve just beenaround kids a lot, even when I was getting older in ourfamily there were nephews and they were there allthese little kids, I don’t know.S: Okay, let’s suppose that you were upset or somethingand you almost say “shut up” or something. Do you eversort of have a filter and put what you’re going to saythrough it and choose between a couple of things tosay?63E Yeah, like if it’s something I’ll go, I’ll start to say“Hey, cut it out” or whatever, and then I realize that Ishouldn’t yell so instead I say “Can you come hereplease ?“ My mind is going “Erica, you just can’t yell”.But with something like what I said to Julia, I justthought it was pretty cool.S: So it was spontaneous ?E Yeah, with the good things. If I am going to disciplineor going to start to yell I’ll notice that sometimes, heythey look at me and I’ll see their faces and I’ll go “Ishouldn’t be yelling”. So I’ll say “Can you come hereplease ?“.S: When you say “Can you come here please” do you think“How am I going to say this ?“E Yes I do. And then it’s either I’m going to try to explainthis to the children, what they did wrong, ask themwhat they did wrong, give them a choice, whatever.Depending on the kid. Yeah I do think about it whilethey are coming over and sometimes I will even, say ifI’m talking to someone else, I’ll say to the child “Canyou sit there for a minute and wait for me” because I’mthinking “What am I doing with this kid ?“.S: Okay, so you might have a couple of strategies. Whenyou say it depends on the kid, what do you mean ?E Depending on what they say. You have some of thereally independent boys who, if I give them a choicethat will be better for them because they are not goingto do anything you tell them to do. If I say for example,“I’m going to take this Lego stuff away” like a threat,then they’ll go do exactly what they were doing. I’vegot to say “You guys make the choice”. But whereasother children, the ones who are shy, they don’t want to64get a talk from me period. They don’t like talking toadults, so it’s easier for me to say “Please stay out ofthat area and do something else” and they will probablyrespond better because they don’t want to get intotrouble again.When I initially asked Erica if she thought about her response, shereplied “Not really. I’ve just been around kids . . .“ When I changed thescenario to one where she is upset and wants to say “shut up” forexample, Erica readily admitted that she might think to herself “Erica,you just can’t yell”. She also admitted that when she calls a child overshe does think about what she is going to say and how she is going tosay it. Like Frank, she states that when she communicates withchildren (at least in discipline situations) how she responds willdepend heavily on which child she is talking to. The implication here isthat she must mentally process her “history” with this child - shemust calculate the nature of the relationship that she has developedwith this particular child.The incongruency here, at least as I see it, is between Erica’srecognition of a complex thought process that is involved indisciplinary situations and her denial of any thought process involvedin a particular example of skillful performance. It is aQI my intentionto deny Erica’s perception that she did not think before she made thecomment to Julia. But given the positive effect that the comment had65on Julia and on the group as a whole, and given the fact that it would bedifficult to think of a different comment that would have been moreeffective in that situation, I find it difficult to take her initial denialat face value.Erica’s response “Not really. I’ve just been around kids . .seems to fit into Schon’s idea that “Often we cannot say what it isthat we know. When we try to describe it we find ourselves at a loss,or we produce descriptions that are obviously inappropriate” (1983, p.49, emphasis added). The same can be said of Frank’ comment “It’s notlike anything runs through my head, it just happens”, and Heather’sresponse “No, not at all” when I asked her if she thought about anythingbefore she acted in the situation-at-hand.During the field work and the data analysis stages of the researchI found this phenomenon of denial confusing and somewhatcontradictory. I found the denials contradictory in the sense that,after the outright denial, each SACW could eventually articulate acomplex set of factors that went into their skillful performance. Twodifferent, but related concepts helped me to make sense out of thisapparent contradiction. The first is the concept of tacit skills andknowledge (Polanyi, 1967, 1969 and Schon 1983, 1990), and the secondis that of invisible skills (Morley, 1993 and Gaskell, 1987, 1992).66Tacit Skills and KnowledgeSchon (1983), following the work of Polanyi (1967, 1969) holdsthe assumption that “competent practitioners usually know more thanthey can say. They exhibit a kind of knowing-in-practice, most ofwhich is tacit” (p. viii). The requisite knowledge is embedded in theobservable practice and facilitates a positive outcome to the situationat hand. The “skill” is in the knowledge (knowing what to do and howto do it), and the knowledge is in the actual practice (performance).Often, because of this embeddedness, the practitioner cannotadequately describe the antecedents (including her thought processes)to her skillful performances. Schon (1990) uses the term “knowing-inaction” to describe this phenomenon. He states:I shall use knowing-in-action to refer to the sorts of know-how we reveal in our intelligent action - publiclyobservable, physical performances like riding a bicycle andprivate operations like instant analysis of a balance sheet.In both cases, the knowing is jj the action. We reveal it byour spontaneous, skillful execution of the performance; andwe are characteristically unable to make it verballyexplicit (p. 25).Schon continues:Nevertheless, it is sometimes possible, by observing andreflecting on our actions, to make a description of the tacitknowing implicit in them (p. 25).This statement helped me make sense of the apparent contradiction in67the denial-negotiation-description phenomenon. When SACWs are giventhe opportunity to observe and reflect upon their own actions (as theywere given in the interviews), they can begin to perceive the richnessand complexity of their tacit knowing and the “hidden” skills that theyrely upon to perform skillfully. They have difficulty articulating theskills and thought processes that they use until they have a chance tostep back and reflect upon them.I suggest that once this knowing-in-action becomes explicit,SACWs are in a better position to use it in the service of their ownprofessional development. The once-tacit skills and knowledge becomeself-observable, available for reflection and public sharing, andaccessible to self-analysis. This is what happened in the interviewscited above. As Heather states near the end of her interview:with you going over all this with me, it’s really helped meto be aware of some of my good qualities. Sometimes Idon’t think about them at all. Having you tell me them isgoing to make me more aware and I think I’m going to try toimprove from there and do it more than I have been doing.Invisible SkillsThere is another concept that helped me to make sense out of thephenomenon of initial denial. Morley (1993) writes about women in theworkplace and the fact that many of their skills are invisible to themand to their employers. She makes the point that the “ordinariness” of68these skills allows people to take them for granted. This ordinarinessalso “hides the expertise from its practitioners and the public” (p. 39).What may be a “skill” may not be defined as a skill and therefore wouldlack credibility if it were talked about as a skill.Gaskell (1986, 1992) has pointed out that the notion of skill is asocially constructed one. She claims that:the question of how we attribute a level of skill to a job iscomplex. How do tasks in the labour market come to bevalued, to be seen by employers and employees as ‘skilled’?How can we compare the value of verbal skills and physicalskills, the value of social skills and technical skills? .Our notions of labour market skills are socially constructedand the social processes producing our designations need tobe carefully examined (1992, p. 114).Jackson (1987) also points out that there are “unexamined assumptionsabout the character of knowledge, skills and learning related toworking life” and that “these assumptions have been particularlydamaging to our understanding of women’s work and skills” (p. 351).It is widely recognized that child care in general is considered tobe within the domain of “women’s work” (Finkelstein, 1988). It is alsowidely recognized that child care is devalued by certain elements ofadult society - it is not given high status, nor is it recognized as ahighly skilled, knowledge-oriented occupation. Tom (1993) cites theexample of an American occupational skill-rating guide which ranks69the skills of child care workers below those of parking lot attendants,and the Canadian example of the comparison between the average pay ofchild care workers and the average pay of government employees caringfor animals. Modigliani (1986) states that “most people do not believethat caring for children requires skill” (p. 52). Powell (1990) suggeststhat there is a widespread notion that “instinctual abilities” and a“love of children” are all that one needs in order to work with children.Pettygrove et al (1984) have pointed out that, “child caregivers faceconditions similar to those in other female-dominated fields - low pay,low status, and little job security” (p. 14).It could very well be that SACWs (and child care workers ingeneral) are predisposed to initially deny that their work with childreninvolves skills and knowledge that are worth reflecting on and talkingabout. They could be predisposed to deny the thought processes thatprecede skillful action because they do not feel that they have socialpermission to do so. It may be that, consciously or unconsciously,many SACWs are conditioned to attribute less skill and thought to theirwork than an outside assessment would allow.Several scholars have noted that women’s oral narrativesand autobiographies often are characterized by frequentunderstatements, avoidance of first-person point of view,rare mention of personal accomplishment, and disguisedstatements of personal power (Etter-Lewis, 1991, p. 48).70I found this disposition to deny or downplay the skills and thoughtprocesses involved in effective work with children in the SACW5 that Iinterviewed, regardless of gender.It is only through a process of negotiation that involves anempathetic understanding of what is involved in working with childrenthat child care workers may begin to feel that what they do can belegitimately considered as “skilled”. Once their work is accepted asskilled, then SACWs feel more comfortable describing the thoughtprocesses that accompany their knowing-in-action. The educationalimplications of this will be discussed in the final chapter.SACWs Thinking about Their WorkThe phenomenon of initial denial notwithstanding, it is obviousfrom the observations and the interviews that SACWs do think aboutwhat they are doing, and they do reflect on various aspects of their job.In this section I provide a number of examples of SACWs thinking aboutvarious aspects of their work. My intention is first to demonstratethat work in SAC can be reflective practice, and second to highlight avariety of thoughts that SACWs have regarding their work.In this first example I ask Kate about learning and what shethinks she still has to learn in order to become more effective withchildren.K: Something that I have to learn ? See I’m really good at71learning from watching people, so I don’t know . . .doyou mean at school or just to learn ?S: Just anything you have to learn now.K: I guess maybe knowing how to . . . like, I know what Ihave to do and I know why, but to get the two to meet.Two comments are worth noting in this excerpt. First, Katestates that she learns from watching other people. Observationallearning and role models can be an important source of learning forSACWs. Second, she admits that while she knows what to do and why itshould be done, she still needs to learn how to put it all together - tomerge purpose and action. Kate thinks about the connection betweenthe what and the why of effective practice.The second example also involves Kate. At one point during theobservation she was busy talking to several children in one corner ofthe room. A boy sitting at a table in the middle of the room began toyell loudly at another child and then knocked a Monopoly game off of thetable sending game pieces and play money scattering all over the floor.Kate then moved toward the boy. During the interview I asked Kateabout her thoughts as she responded to the incident. She said:I remember thinking what tone of voice should I use now ?Should I yell or should I . . . <pause> . . . and depending on thesituation.Later in the interview, describing the same incident:72I was sitting beside him as it was all happening. And I satbeside him and I just thought what was he going to do if Ijust told him to stop, because he’s going to have a lot ofanger and he might take it out on me, so I just let him rollwith it.In this excerpt Kate is making on-the-spot decisions about thetone of voice that she will use and the volume of that voice. She isthinking about the image that she wants to portray during herintervention, especially the critical first few seconds. She alsodescribes how she was calculating the possible consequences ofdifferent intervention strategies. Her thought process took the form ofan “if.. .then” proposition; if she just told him to stop, then he mighttake his anger out on her, but if she just let him roll with it, then hemight calm down and be more open to discussing the problem at hand.In this next example Wayne talks about his thought processes andthe importance of thinking on the job (there are three separate excepts- each one is separated by a short dashed line).I’m completely open to tinker with, try something new, you know,ditch something, take it apart, turn it upside down . . . as long asit works effectively for a group within the mandate of thestructure that I have to function in.[In this job] you have to be fast on your feet, fast with your mindand you have to be flexible enough to come up with a plan on yourown . . . You have to come up with ways of speaking and doingthings that are productive to the situation. In any situation it’s aconstant matter of definition, and the variables might changedepending on group size, you know.73S: How does somebody become effective working withchildren ? How does somebody get to that level ?W: Well, experience. . .<pause>. . .dealing with it <pause>.thinking about it.In the first excerpt Wayne talks about tinkering with ideas andstrategies. He describes how he develops an idea and then takes itapart and turns it upside down, looking for the strategy that is bestsuited for the group and the situation at hand. In the second excerpt heemphasizes the importance of thinking on the job. In the third excerpthe stresses the connection between experience and thinking aboutexperience. A parallel can be made with Aldous Huxley’s famousquotation “Experience is not what happens to you, but what you do withwhat happens to you.” A distinction can be made here between actionand reflection-on-action. It is often easier to act than to think aboutthat action. According to Wayne “thinking about it” is an importantmedium through which SACWs can learn to become more effectiveworking with children.In this next example Cindy reflects on her own childhood as asource of learning, on what she wants to accomplish in her work(giving children choices), and on her conscious evaluation of theeffectiveness of her strategies (there are two excerpts here -separated by a short dashed line).74C: My parents tried to put me into a mould. . . and Irealized later that when I worked with kids, themistakes my parents made were ones I didn’t want torepeat.S: Mm-hmm.C: And some of that was allowing kids to make their owndecisions. Because when I was allowed to make myown decisions, I was the kind of kid that . . ..<pause>. . . Ididn’t have to stay out all night. I had no curfew, Ididn’t have a problem with that.S: Mm-hmm.C: All my friends were rebelling against their parents,and when I saw that and compared them to me, Idecided that my own kids, I would like them to grow upwith their own lives, not just jumping to my orders.And then I thought “Well, isn’t that true for all children?“ And when I started listening to the kids theyreinforced this for me. Because they’re not carboncopies of their parents, they’re individuals from thetime they’re really small.S: Mm-hmm. So would you say that you had a philosophyof child care ?C: I probably did and didn’t know it.S: Mm-hmm.C: Like I would never have thought of it as a philosophy.S: But do you have one now?C: Yeah.75S: Do you consciously think about it now when you’reworking with kids ?C: Yeah, yeah.S: Okay.C: I’m conscious that I’m not trying to give only myopinion. I try to give the children options and allowthem to make their own choices.S: One last question: are there any moments or events thatyou can think of in your child care career where youwent in and then the event happened and you came outwith real insight, a real new understanding ?C: I would say almost everyday. Because it can be thenegative, perhaps I handled this wrong, so I think “Whatcould have worked better ?“ Or to the oppositespectrum, which is, “Wow ! What an incredibleexperience !“In this next example Heather also talks about the consciousevaluation of the effectiveness of her strategies.S: Can you think of any of those practical experienceswhere you went into it and then came out of it knowingmore, understanding more ?H: Oh, I think so. I can give you an example here. I thinkI’ve gone into situations where I’ve done things maybe,where I could have done things better.. <pause>.. .maybeI’ve done them incorrectly and I’ve come out thinking,well you know “I could have done that a bit better”, andthat happens all the time. I’m constantly improving inthat way and the staff is as well. We always talkabout stuff, we get together all the time and discusshow we handle situations and discuss how we can76improve them for next time.Heather thinks about continually improving the way that she respondsto children. She also wants to share that kind of thinking process withthe rest of her staff team.In this next example Betty talks about formal training, the goalsof children and staff, and thinking about the play environment (thereare 2 excerpts separated by a dashed line).S: Can you think of any workshops, conferences, orcourses that your staff have taken where maybe you’veseen a change or an accelerated development ?B: Mm-hmm. We presented to the staff about a year and ahalf ago, the step parenting program through theAdlerian Society. We had an instructor come in for aten-week period, and that, I believe, is the mostintensive workshop we’ve done as a group over acommitted period of time. It was over a ten-weekperiod, and I think that was one of the most dynamicprocesses that has assisted us in our development as astaff.5: So what happened that made it so remarkable ?B: Being able to, as a group, take a really good look at thegoals of children’s behaviour.S: Mm-hmm.B: How to be able to. . .well. . .to see the goals ofbehaviour, how to handle behaviour, how to teach thechildren responsibility for their own behaviour. But tobe able to do it as a group so that we’re all. . .we’resharing our ideas but we’re also focussing in on what77our common goals should be.B: And we change [the play environments in the rooms] allthe time too. I mean, my staff always kid me, “Oh,there goes Betty again, she’s changing things around.”But that’s part of working with children, too, is makingtheir environment dynamic, changing it with them, forthem, whatever. We’re forever changing it around and Iencourage my staff to do so too. I ask them “What newideas can you come up with ?“In the first excerpt Betty talks about a formal training coursethat has helped the staff to work more effectively with children. Shecredits not only the course content for the intensity of the learning,but also the process by which the staff shared in the learning and in adiscussion of their common goals. In the second excerpt Betty stressesthe importance of reflecting on the issue of play environments forchildren. SACWs must think about these play environments and ask howthey can be changed to improve the experiences for the children in SAC.In this next example Erica is responding to a question about whatshe is trying to accomplish in her work with children. She claims thatshe is trying to help children learn about “responsibility, respect, andachievement basically. And autonomy too. I want them to do things ontheir own. Independence too.” Erica knows what she thinks isimportant in SAC and she is keenly aware of the purpose of her actionswithin the context of her work with children.78In this last example Frank talks about thinking in terms of whatis important for children.I think it’s very important for kids that age to be givensome freedom. For them to know, “Hey, he’s treating mewith trust, he’s trusting me so in turn I’m going to showresponsibility because I really enjoy that trust.”Frank talks about freedom, trust and responsibility. These are valuesthat he tries to actualize in his work. During the observation thesevalues were evident in his actions and in the children’s responses tohis actions (for example, see Vignette #1, Chapter Five).It is important here to make a distinction between “justthinking” - experiencing “any old thought” that might occur to a person- and reflection. Mezirow (1990) defines reflection as the“examination of the justification of one’s beliefs, primarily to guideaction and to reassess the efficacy of the strategies and procedureused in problem solving” (p. xvi). He also points out that “reflection isgenerally used as a synonym for higher-order mental processes” (p. 5).I would like to use the term “reflection” in a similar vein. By the term“reflection” I do not simply mean “thinking” of any sort. Reflectioninvolves a constructive questioning - an active inner dialogue -regarding the connection between one’s overall purposes and theproblems and opportunities that one finds in one’s practice.It may be possible for a SACW to think to herself “These children79are not behaving properly, what should I yell at them ?“ But if shereflects, she would have to ask herself “Is yelling at these childrenconsistent with my overall purposes in child care ?“ She would alsohave to ask herself questions like “Is there a better way tocommunicate with these children ?“, and “What other options do I havein this situation ?“ This example helps to point out that there is acritical element in the concept of reflection. This critical elementmay not be present when a SACW is “just thinking”. Reflection is morethan thinking. It involves an awareness of one’s own thinking and acritical questioning of that thinking. When a SACW reflects, shecritically assesses the link between her guiding principles and herimmediate or imminent action.In Chapter One I pointed out that working in SAC involves acertain richness and complexity. In this section my intention was toshow some of that complexity and richness in the thought processes ofthe SACWs. In order to be effective with children over the long term,SACWs must think about what they are doing and why they are doing it.They must reflect on action and reflect on purpose. They must alsothink about the connection between what they do and why they do it,and continually evaluate the effectiveness of their responses tochildren. To become more effective working with children, SACWs canlearn how to become more conscious thinkers. They can make their80actions the subject of their thoughts and they can think about theirthinking in ways that allow them to increase the match between theiractions and the purpose of their work. SACWs can also productivelyreflect upon things like their own upbringing, role models that haveinfluenced their work, and the moments that make their workworthwhile to them.Reflections on Content - The Golden RuleTo this point I have endeavoured to demonstrate that SACWs dothink about their work. I will now focus on one of the most prominentpatterns within the content of that reflection. An articulation of someform of the “Golden Rule” (“Do unto others as you would have others dounto you”) was a major theme that recurred throughout the data. ManySACWs articulated the Golden Rule, and traced the roots of theirskillful performances back to this guiding principle. In this section Iwill provide three examples of SACWs discussing the Golden Rule andhow it affects their thinking and their work.In this first excerpt I ask Betty where she learned her “soft,friendly, open way of approaching kids”. She replies:Where did I learn that ? I think I learned that at the verybeginning, in how to relate to children. Learning how to. .if I expect their, if I want their respect, for me, then I haveto respect them also. We’re their number one role modelshere. We’re the only adults in this building. So they arelooking to us. We have to teach them and show them whatwe mean by “appropriate behaviour.” What I do is really81sincere, I believe, because it comes with honesty andsincerity. I want to show the kids genuine respect becausethat’s the behaviour that I expect back from them to me.Betty makes two specific references to some form of the GoldenRule. She comments that “if I want their respect, for me, then I haveto respect them also” and later she says “I want to show the kidsgenuine respect because that’s the behaviour that I expect back fromthem to me.”Cindy articulated her own form of the Golden Rule in thefollowing excerpt when she talks about how adults learn to work wellwith children:S: How does somebody learn that ? First of all, how doessomebody learn that, and second, if somebody didn’tknow how to do that, how could we teach them ?C: That’s a tough one. I use how I’d like to be talked to.S: Mm-hmm.C: I don’t like to be ordered around and I don’t wantchildren ordering me around, so why should I orderthem around ? Unless it’s an emergency situation orsomething, then we have no choice.Frank also articulates his version of the Golden Rule andcomments how it influences the way he communicates with children.He says:I think the first thing that goes through my mind,because you were wondering when we were talking82about what goes through my mind, my thought process,I think one of the main things that I do better now thanwhen I started working with children - I think and Ilisten better now. I think “How would I want someoneto talk to me ?“ and I think “Well how would I feelabout it if they did it this way if I was the kid ?“ Andthen I would go with that. If I felt that I wouldprobably feel pretty bad about it, then I would have tocome to the same conclusion that if I responded thatway to the kids they would feel bad too.Frank points out that one of the first things that goes through hishead in a SAC situation involving children is the question “How would Iwant someone to talk to me ?“. This question guides his response tomany situations with children.Betty’s, Cindy’s and Frank’s words closely match the ideaexpressed by Cherry (1983):In discussing punitive discipline, I am not concerned with theperson who has an occasional bad day and makes an occasional slip.I’m concerned with the common adult belief that it is all right toyell at kids, that it is all right to physically harass them, and thatit is all right to hurt their feelings. Such methods are not allright; they are inhumane. They make children feel humiliated,overwhelmed, and powerless. Such methods instill fear, they makechildren feel like failures, and they fail my test of mutuality, orthe Golden Rule of Awareness, which I define as:“What I want for myself, I must also want for you; what I wantfrom you I must also be willing to give” (pp. 8-9).The Golden Rule is a belief and perception that underlieseffective practice with children. Many productive responses that83SACWs have for children are created using it as a guiding principle.The application of the Golden Rule is itself a reflective practice. Inmany cases the extent to which SACWs can learn to see child caresituations as opportunities to apply the Golden Rule is the extent towhich they will learn to work more effectively with children.Reflections on Content - “Sane Communication”Another of the reoccurring themes to emerge from the datarevolved around the way that the SACWs communicated with thechildren and the thought required to do this effectively. Theimportance of staff-child communication has been noted by severalauthors in several different aspects of work involving children. Interms of schooling, Ginott (1972) has asserted that “how a teachercommunicates is of decisive importance. It affects a child’s life forgood or for bad. . . What counts most in adult-child communication isthe quality of the process” (p. 69, emphasis in original). Whendiscussing school teachers and the “repertoire” of responses that theycan draw from when communicating with children, Wasserman statesthat:Whichever response teachers choose from their fullrepertoire, that response has power for the children.Because it comes from a person in authority, a respectedteacher, the response has power to hurt or to help. It hasthe power to be additive or subtractive; to empower or todisempower; to enhance or diminish thinking. Teachers’responses can be inviting, appreciative, and respectful, and84they can be rejecting, cruel, and punishing. They can fosterautonomy, and they can cultivate dependency. Perhaps youthink this is overstating the case, assigning too muchweight to the statements people make to each other inhuman interactions. . . . Yet, any of us who have been at thebutt end of sustained hurtful statements dished out bythoughtless and insensitive adults (or children) will know,from personal experience, the power of such statements todiminish us (p. 184).Cherry (1983), speaking about preschool, states that:what we say and how we say it are critical in dealing withchildren. The ways we communicate with children, bothverbally and nonverbally, are, generally speaking, under ourcontrol and thus can be used as tools for guidance in theclassroom (p. 99).Albrecht (1991) and O’Connor (1991) have both emphasized out howimportant staff-child interactions are in SAC.Given the importance of staff-child communication in SAC it wasrelatively easy to discern two very basic categories of staff-childcommunication. Using Ginott’s (1972) terms these two categories canbe labelled as “sane communication” and “insane communication”.According to Ginott a message is “sane” to the extent that itaccurately reflects the situation at hand and the feelings of the peopleinvolved. Sane messages are firmly rooted in the reality of the presentsituation and help the child to trust his or her inner reality. Ginottmaintains that:A child is entitled to sane messages from an adult. How85parents and teachers talk tells a child how they feel abouthim. Their statements affect his self-esteem and self-worth. To a large extent, their language determines hisdestiny . . . teachers need to eradicate the insanities soinsidiously hidden in their everyday speech, the messagesthat tell a child to distrust his perception, disown hisfeelings, and doubt his worth. The prevalent, so-called“normal” talk drives children crazy - the blaming andshaming, preaching and moralizing, ordering and bossing,admonishing and accusing, ridiculing and belittling,threatening and bribing, diagnosing and prognosing. Thesetechniques brutalize, vulgarize, and dehumanize children.Sanity depends on trusting one’s inner reality. Such trustis engendered by processes that can be identified andapplied (pp. 69-70).Charles (1985) provides us with an example of the difference betweena sane and an insane message in a school situation.Two children are talking during a quiet time, violating classrules. The teacher says “This is quiet time. It needs to beabsolutely silent”. An insane message, according to Ginott,would be, “You two are being very rude. You have noconsideration for others” (p. 50).The cardinal rule of sane communication is that the adult shouldalways address the situation and not make disparaging remarks aboutthe child’s character or personality. Insane communication disrespectsthe child. It takes many forms including: sarcasm, ridicule, demanding(when inviting cooperation would be more appropriate), anddisregarding or denying children’s feelings.In the data from the present study there were several examples86of both sane and insane communication. Joan (a SACW) sent an insanemessage when she greeted a child and then said “Get your jacket on -we’re going outside to play.” This message could be considered insanebecause it is an obvious power-demand statement. There was noreason why she could not have informed the child that they were goingoutside to play and then, if the child did not go to get his jacket,suggest that he do so. Her demand “Get your jacket on -we’re goingoutside to play” implies that the child does not have the intelligence tofigure out for himself that he will need to put his jacket on. Later thatsame afternoon when a child got his hands wet playing in a puddle onthe playground Joan moved over to him, wiped his hands off and said tothe boy “That’s not very smart.” This remark was simply uncalled for.It represented a unilateral disparaging judgment of the child’scharacter or personality.Another example of an insane message involved a SACW and agroup of children doing a paper mache art project. Andrea (the SACW)was cutting up magazines so that the children could use the cuttings tomake the paper mache. One young girl complained about the “sexy girlstuff” in the photos in one magazine that was being cut up. She wasreferring to provocative lingerie ads in a fashion magazine. Two boysrushed over from the other side of the art table to leer at the ad.Andrea said to the girl “These magazines were donated . . . <pause> . .87Anyway, its no big deal, its just like a swim suit.” This message canbe considered insane because it denied the girl’s feelings. The SACWsaid “It’s no big deal. . .“ but obviously it was a big enough deal that thegirl brought it to her attention (with genuine disgust) in the firstplace.When working with children, no one is expected to be perfect intheir communication all the time. The examples of insanecommunication cited above are not meant to suggest that Joan andAndrea are poor SACWs. The examples are simply used to demonstratewhat insane communication can sound like in SAC. Joan was engaged insane communication when, after Sarah (a child) was unhappy with apicture that she had just drawn, Joan said “Well, if you don’t want it,I’ll have it. I’ll take it home.” By using an “I-message” Joan avoidedtelling Sarah how to feel about the picture, and at the same timestated how she (Joan) felt. After Joan’s comment Sarah decided thatthe picture was not that bad after all and kept the picture for herself.Although the observation of Andrea did not provide a clear example ofsane communication it is important to note that she did make eyecontact with several children, she appeared to listen to what childrenhad to say (with the exception of the example cited above), showedgenuine concern for a child in distress, and skillfully read a story thatdelighted two other children.88Although I did not ask either Joan or Andrea about theircommunications cited above, I would speculate that instances of insanecommunication do not involve reflection. While a SACW can “think” andthen engage in some form of insane communication, it is unlikely thatshe could critically reflect upon her guiding principles and upon theoverall purposes of her work with children and then choose to send aninsane message. Reflection on one’s values as a SACW would help oneto focus on principled action, which, in turn, would predispose theSACW to send sane messages when she was communicating withchildren. Reflection on one’s values would act as a screen that wouldattempt to filter out the sending of insane messages.Throughout the observations there were many examples of sanecommunication. One example involved Kate (the SACW) and three boyswho were sliding wooden play-blocks across the cement floor to crashnoisily against the wall. Instead of giving an insane, angry, blamingmessage, Kate chose to move toward the boys and say in a matter-offact (but softly assertive) tone of voice “I don’t think that’s a greatway to use the blocks - it’s pretty loud.” She then suggested to theboys that they build something big with the wooden blocks, or chooseto play with the cardboard blocks because they make less noise. Iasked Kate about this during the interview. She said:I let them do it [play noisily with the wooden blocks] for a89while thinking that okay, maybe they’ll stop. Maybe it’sjust like a passing thing. But then I started to realize thatit wasn’t - they were just trying to kill the blocks. . . .mean, we have to keep the noise down. I’d love to let themmake as much noise as they want, but really it’s impossibleto work for everybody’s good with that kind of a noise inthat space. In the end it worked out good because I said tothem “If you really want to do that why don’t you take theother blocks and you can build them up and they don’tdestroy anything - they’re just made out of cardboard.” Inthe end the boys just found something else to do.This can be considered as an example of sane communication - bothfrom what she chose to say and from what she chose nrn to say. Shedid not try to blame, shame, accuse, order the boys around, etc. Shechose to use an I-message (“I don’t think that’s a great way to use theblocks”), to describe the present situation (“. . .it’s pretty loud”), andto point out some of the other activity options open to the boys.Kate offers us another example of sane communication duringthat same observation. Nicholas (9 years old) got quite upset during agame of Monopoly and threw the entire game onto the floor. Shedescribes the incident and her thought process in the following exceptfrom the interview.K: . . . he just totally cleared the entire table ofeverything and threw it on the floor and had a tantrum.But I liked the way I handled it.S: How did you handle it ?K: . . . I let him do it and after he did it I tried to stop him90with my left side by putting my arm around him, notforcing him to sit or whatever but just to sort of lethim know that what he’s doing isn’t right and to let himknow that somebody is there. And after, I sort of lethim go and then after I said sincerely “Did that makeyou feel better ? Did you get a lot of anger out thatway ?“ And he said “Yeah” and I just asked him “Well,what was the problem ?“.And later in the interview, discussing the same incident:S: You asked the question “Did you get a lot of anger out?“ or something like that. How did you know to askthat question ?K: No, I said, oh I said “You must be really angry to chuckeverything like that” and he said “Yeah”. And then Isaid “That must have made you feel good to let it outsomehow” and then after he calmed down a bit more Ijust said “Well maybe we can find another way ofletting your anger out rather than destroying the areaand everything around you”.S: And what did he say ?K: He said “Yeah” and then we just talked about whathappened and why.Danielle also provides us with an excellent example of sanecommunication. This example involves a request to a child to put herjacket on (and so it can be contrasted to the message delivered by Joannoted previously). Danielle was outside supervising the playground on asunny but cold November afternoon. A child came running out into theplayground area without her jacket on. Debbie noticed her right away91and said “Kelly, I’d really like you to get your jacket on.” As Daniellewas saying this she was moving over to Kelly and nodding her head.Talking about her own thinking during this incident, Danielle saidduring the interview “I think if I said ‘You go get your jacket on’ kidswould probably just run away.” She intuitively knew that childrenresent being ordered about - especially when the use of softer, moresane communication will convey what is needed in the situation just aseffectively. Danielle’s use of the I-message (“I’d really like you to getyour jacket on”) places the ownership of the “problem” with Danielle,not the child. That is to say, Danielle perceives Kelly not having ajacket on as a problem and takes ownership for that perception, shedoes not assume that going jacketless is necessarily a “problem” fromKelly’s perspective.During the observations I noted that the children seemed torespond more positively to the SACWs who used sane communicationand more negatively to the SACWs who used insane communication(although no SACW in this study used insane communicationexclusively, there were three SACWs who used sane communicationalmost exclusively). It became apparent during the interviews thatusing sane communication requires some kind of thought process - acensoring or self-discipline on the part of the SACW. Cindy describespart of this thought process when she says “If I say to you ‘Hey you,92move over’ it won’t work. But if I say, ‘Hey Steve, could you move over?‘ you’re more likely to cooperate and not be offended by it”. She alsopoints out the censoring function that can exist in a SACW’s thoughtprocess:So you’ve got to be, I think you’ve got to censor yourself.You’ve got to be careful what you’re saying, make sure it’ssaid in a positive way rather than in a negative way.Something that enhances growth rather than puts themdown.Cindy’s idea about “censoring” herself and being careful aboutwhat she is saying parallels Wasserman’s (1990) notion that adultswho work with children must cultivate the ability “to hear what youare saying you are saying it” (p. 181, emphasis in original). Thisability requires more than thinking about action, it requires reflectionin-action; thinking in the midst of practice. Reflection-in-action isthe focus of the next chapter.93Chapter Five:Reflective PerformancesIn this chapter I will demonstrate that SACWs can be viewed asreflective practitioners. During the fieldwork I observed manyexamples of skilled performances by SACWs. In the following pages Iwill examine six examples of effective practice. These skillfulperformances will be presented as vignettes, with a description of thesituation from the observation data, followed by each SACW’sdescription of their own thought processes during the incident. I willclose each vignette with a brief analysis of key points.It is worth noting here that the “skills” that were involved inthese performances were made up of a combination of thought jçjaction. In their own way each SACW describes how their thoughtsinformed their actions and how their actions (and the children’sreactions) informed their subsequent thoughts. In each vignette theSACWs clearly describe what they were thinking in the midst of theiraction. For this reason I refer to these vignettes as “reflectiveperformances”.Reflective Performance #1: Frank and the Snack TableThis first vignette involves a series of communications that takeplace as Frank is trying to engage several children’s cooperation to94clean off a table before snack time. He informs the group that it istime for snack and that things must be put away so that snack can beserved. He approaches one table where three boys are constructingLego figures. He says matter-of-factly “It’s snack time, it’s time toput the Lego away guys”. The boys ignore him and keep playing. Frankmoves closer and says in a more assertive voice “Gentlemen, snack isabout to be served, we need that table cleared so that you and othersmay sit there for snack”. Two of the children stop, but one boy keepsplaying - none of them move to clear the table. Frank then says “Lance,Jerry, and Ross, please tell me what I just asked of you”. The boysrepeat what he has asked and then they begin to clear the table. Oncethe table is cleared Frank says “You guys can come up for snack nowthat the Lego has been put away and the table has been cleared”.During the interview Frank talked about his thought processduring this transaction:I think that what I do is maybe in my thought processsomehow or some way consciously or unconsciously thinkto myself “Now if I said to them ‘You guys are a bunch ofslobs, clean up or you won’t get any snack !‘, what reactionwould that get me ?“. I might get a reaction like “Well wehave to clean up now”, yet the kids would walk away with avery negative feeling about it. . . . I saw one of our staffbringing the snack down [from the kitchen]. So at that pointI said “Okay, it’s time to clean up. Wash your hands andonce you are sitting at a table the snack will be brought toyou or you can come and get snack”. Well I just kind of saw[the three boys] not really being into it and they were95having a great time . . .they probably might be thinking“Snack is the furthest thing from my mind”, but what I’msaying is there are probably other kids who want to sit atthat table too. So I’m thinking they’re not going to have toclean up for themselves, but it is snack time and I feel thatit is a time, whether or not you want to eat snack, it is aquiet time. It’s a time for kids to be together to talk aboutmaybe how their day went or whatever. And when I noticedthem not cleaning up I didn’t want to sort of, they werebeing very creative . . . and I didn’t want to stifle thatbecause they are more than welcome to play after snack.I guess what goes through my head is “Well you know it isclean up time. We are having snack now, and give themsome time to see if it registers”. . . . I maybe give them oneor two minutes, and then I kind of realize well obviouslyit’s either they are ignoring me or they never heard me atall. So then I approach them personally and say “Okay guys,it’s clean up time - you’ll be given snack when you’vecleaned up”. I think my process is . . . as things progress Iprobably get a little more stricter in the way I say might start out with Phase One; it’ll be “Okay fellas,time to clean up for snack”. Phase Two; “I notice you’re notcleaning up”, then I’d say “You will not be getting snackuntil the Lego is away”. Phase Three; I might just say“Fellas, Lego away, no snack until it’s done” and I might geta little sterner in my voice - never raising it, never yelling.Approaching in a very non-threatening manner, but justletting them know that “Hey listen, this is clean up time”.It is worth noting the complexity of Frank’s thought processwhile he stood in the midst of the action. He thought about what kindof reaction he was likely to get if he used a demanding, disrespectfulstrategy. He noticed that the boys were having a good time playingwith the Lego and he recognized that they were being creative and that96having snack was perhaps the farthest thing from their minds at thatparticular time. But he also thought about the other children whowanted to sit at that table so that they could eat snack. Frank alsothought about the overall purpose of the snack time, and that the boyscan take up where they left off after snack is done. Frank managed tothink about all of these issues and also about what he was going to sayeach time and the tone and volume of his voice.Reflective Performance #2: Heather and the MuralIn this next vignette Heather is at the art table with a group ofyounger school-agers (6 and 7 year olds). In this particular sessionthey are going to make a large mural to decorate the gymnasium wall(the program is housed in the gymnasium and they wanted to make itfeel a little more colourful and welcoming). There is excited chatteramongst the children as they put on their smocks and get their paintbrushes ready. Heather says “What would we like to paint here ? Weshould all have the same theme”. At that point the chatter in the groupceases and several children stop what they are doing. Most of thechildren looked puzzled. There is silence. Heather is surprised by thechildren’s reaction, there is a brief pause before she asks “Do you guysknow what a theme is ?“. Most of the children indicate that they don’tknow what a theme is (either by shaking their head or saying “No”).She explains what a theme is and then asks the group for suggestions.97One child enthusiastically suggests that the theme be “teddy bears”,and another child, with equal excitement, suggests that the theme be“diamonds”. There is another period of silence - all the children lookat Heather. She pauses once again, and then says cheerfully, “Teddybears and diamonds, now that’s a creative theme for a mural”. All thechildren seem quite pleased with this and get on with the business ofpainting the mural (the children ended up painting lots of browndiamonds).During the interview Heather described her thought process:I thought, when I did say “Let’s have a certain theme”, Ididn’t get a response right away. So I thought “Okay, theydon’t understand, or they don’t want to do a theme oranything that has to do with a theme”, so I thought I’d askthem if they knew what a theme was so that if they knewmaybe they’d have some suggestions. . . I remember thinking.1 thought that the two themes were quite different -diamonds, well if you combine them with [teddy bears] thenit would make everybody happy. . . and it was a differenttheme. I thought it was a really neat thing to do. So, hey,why not ? Let’s make everybody happy and do it that way.Analyzing and looking at it [now] . . . it was a good way tohandle it. I could have said “Well it can’t really bediamonds”. There are lots of ways I could have screwed itup [by saying the wrong thing].In this vignette there are at least two examples of Heatherthinking in the midst of her action. First, when she is surprised by thesilence and general puzzlement after she suggests that they should98have a theme for the mural. She had to think on her feet - why arethese children not responding ? She figures that either they don’t wanta theme or they don’t know what a theme is. She quickly decides to askwhether or not they know what a theme is. She does not shame them,or blame them (she does not ask “What is wrong with you people ?“), ordemand that they respond, instead she decides to ask in an upbeat toneof voice “Do you guys know what a theme is ?“. She uses the generalpuzzlement as an opportunity to help the children learn something new.The second example of thinking in the midst of action comes when sheasks for suggestions and one child suggests “teddy bears” and anothersuggests “diamonds”. Several choices are now before her; she couldarbitrarily choose one over the other, she could ask for moresuggestions then choose one, she could put the whole thing to a vote,she could suggest another theme herself, etc. Her reflection-in-an-instant leads her to combine teddy bears and diamonds (not an easycombination for a theme - at least not to many adults), and torecognize the children’s creativity.Reflective Performance #3: Cindy and the DaypackA child walks into the centre after school and tosses his daypackover into the corner where the children hang up their coats. Thedaypack is not closed properly; it is partially unzipped and hisschoolwork is in danger of spilling out. He leaves the pack and rushes99over to another part of the centre where some other boys are playing.Cindy (the SACW) intercepts him on-route by moving near to him andasking him “Have you got your backpack all closed up ?“ He looks backto his pack, then to Cindy and replies “No”, then returns to his pack andzippers it up.During the interview I asked Cindy to describe her thoughtsduring the incident. Rather than talk about the specific incident, Cindychose to speak in more general terms about how she thinks in order toavoid power struggles. Later in the interview she talks about theimportance of staff being aware of what they are saying to children.S: So when, let’s say the child is just walking away fromthe backpack, OK. Do you go through a range of choicesor do you already know what you’re going to say 7C: I think in the beginning I went through a range ofchoices. They were a lot more conscious. But thelonger I do it, the more the right things come out.S: Right.C: And when I do say a wrong thing, I think about it a lotto figure out what could I have done ? Because I’veentered into conversations with kids and within splitseconds had a power struggle going on. . . . So I’velearned to talk that way because I don’t like powerstruggles. There’s no point to them. We’re notsupposed to be controlling them or that, we want themto learn for themselves.Later in the interview I asked Cindy about new staff learning to100work with children. She emphasized that new staff:have to take the time to think about what they’resaying because you can insult a child, evenaccidentally, and scar them for life with just a fewwords.Cindy admits that when she first started working with childrenshe went through a range of choices in her mind in an attempt to findthe right thing to say. When she says the “wrong” thing, she reflectsupon what she could have said that would have been more effective.She wants to avoid power struggles with children. This helps toexplain why she chose to ask “Have you got your backpack all closed up?“, rather than to demand “Go right back there and do that backpack upproperly this instant !“ or some similar response that would invite apower struggle with the child. As it was, the boy simply looked back athis pack, saw that it was left unzipped, and willingly returned tocorrect the situation.Reflective Performance #4: Danielle Signing Children InThis next vignette involves Danielle (the SACW) interacting withseveral different children during the afternoon sign-in procedure. Onechild enters the centre a few minutes before school has been officiallydismissed. Danielle engages this child in a conversation that brings asmile to the child’s face. Then a child named Mary enters the centreafter school when all the other children are entering as well. Mary101still has her jacket on when she rushes past Danielle and toward thesnack that is set out. Danielle intercepts Mary by saying hello to her,making eye contact with her, and reminding her that she should put herjacket and her school books away before she goes up for snack. As thesign-in procedure continues Danielle also intercepts another childwhose hands are covered in blue paint. She reminds this child to washher hands before having snack.During the interview I asked Danielle about her thought processesas she was signing children in:S: So one of the kids came in a bit early and you said “Howcome you got out early 7”. Your tone was real soft andinterested, like “Hey ! How come you’re out early !?“.And the child replied that she went to the dentist andthen she went to buy a guinea pig with her Mom. Do youremember that ?D: Yes.S: And you said “Oh, you’ll have to bring it in one day”,and then you asked “Don’t you have cats too ?“. It wasobvious to me that you knew this child enough to havethat conversation. Do you know most of the childrenthat well ?D Yes, I think I’ve got to know them pretty well, yeah.S: How did you get to know them ?D: Urn, well, I’m sort of interested in finding out whatkind of situation they all come from. A lot of thesekids here seem to be really needy kids.102S: Mm-hmm.D: Most of them are from broken families and I, I justthink that they need lots of attention. And they like tobe able to tell me things about their lives. They like totalk and I like to listen.S: How did you come to know that ? How did you learnthat ?EY Just, mostly from what I’ve picked up from the kids,from what they’ve told me.S: OK, then in the observation I notice when Mary [a child]comes in you say “Hi Mary. You should put your stuffaway before you have snack”. Because she sort of triedto come around you with her jacket on and everything,and so I was interested to see if she would actually dowhat you asked, and of course she did. She hung up herjacket and then .D Just knowing Mary helps.S: Yeah. It seemed to me that the way you spoke to herwas real critical for her, because you didn’t really tellher, you just sort of said, you know, this is the way itusually is, and it worked. So do you have ideas in yourhead about how to say something to Mary ?D: Yeah. She doesn’t respond too well to being told to dosomething at all, but she needs somebody, she needs alot of direction, otherwise she’ll just come in and she’sjust kind of wild. Especially after school, she can bereally hyper and she needs to be directed, helped alittle.S: Yeah, I was interested because it seems like you were103assertive but soft at the same time. Is that a stylething for you ?D: Well, I, Yeah, I try to be like that, but especially withher, just because I know it’s not going to work if I say“Mary, go put your things away”, because I know thatit’s going to be an argument right away.S: Mm-hmm.D: She has to be . . .you know, I have to use a differentapproach with her.S: Mm-hmm . . . [during the observation] another childcomes up and heads straight for the snack, and you said“You should wash your hands before snack”.D: Well, it’s not the rule that all kids have to wash theirhands before snack, but I think it was just that herhands were really dirty.S: Yes, her hands were covered in blue paint or something.D: Oh yeah, her hands had all that paint on them.S: And again, it wasn’t really a telling, you didn’t say “Gowash your hands”, it was more like you said “Youshould go wash your hands first”, and then she lookedat her hands and it was obvious.D: It just made sense.S: Yeah. So again, it wasn’t really a harsh kind of telling.Has that style evolved ?D I think I pick up things as I go along, yeah, and I learnhow to . . . <pause> . . . which way the kids are going torespond better, and so I eventually learn better ways of104talking to children, better ways of doing it.Danielle has a very respectful way of engaging children inconversation and getting them to listen to what she had to say. Shemakes a conscious effort to get to know every child and to gatherinformation from them about their day-to-day activities. When shespoke to Mary about putting her things away before having snack shechose her words carefully. Danielle admits that her response wastailored specifically to Mary as opposed to treating her simply as a“child in general”. She knows that she must use her knowledge of Maryin order to come up with an effective response. She also knows thatMary “doesn’t respond well to being told to do something at all, but sheneeds somebody, she needs a lot of direction, otherwise she’ll justcome in and she’s just kind of wild”. In a split second (as Mary isrushing towards the snack), Danielle quickly thinks “It’s not going towork if I say ‘Mary, go put your things away’, because I know that it’sgoing to be an argument right away”. In many cases a SACW’s thinkingin the midst of action must involve their prior knowledge of thespecific child or children that they are dealing with at that instant.Danielle talks about learning in terms of getting to know each child anddeveloping more effective ways to communicate with them so thatthey will “respond better”.105Reflective Performance #5: Betty and the Foozeball TableIn this vignette Betty (the SACW) responds to several childrenwho call her over and complain that the handle has come off of thefoozeball game. Betty responds by saying that she would go get thetool box and bring it to the toozeball table where they could all worktogether with her to fix the handle. The children waited while Bettyretrieved the tool box and then they all worked together to fix thegame.I asked Betty how she knew how to respond in that manner to thechildren.B: How did I know how to do that ? I guess that’s been oneof our goals - teaching the children responsibility fortheir own behaviour. Letting them know clearly whatmy thought process was and what my expectationswere, communicating to them rationally and invitingtheir participation in fixing the foozeball table. .That I wasn’t going to do it for them. I was going to doit with them, but not for them.S: Right, and that was crystal clear. When you say “shareyour thought process” I guess that’s another thing thatI noticed about you, was it was almost as if you walkaround and think out loud. I think the kids reallyappreciated that, because they sort of knew what youwere doing. You could be walking away, but they stillknew what you were doing. And I had a sense at thattime that the kids felt fairly confident with you aroundbecause they didn’t have to guess a lot.B: Well that’s nice to hear, because I think that’s verytrue. I never thought of it in that light before, but I106think to keep myself rational most of the time -because there’s so many demands of the children all atonce - I try to let them know that I know that they arethere, I acknowledge that they are there, but I can onlydeal with one person at a time, so they just have tolearn to be patient, time is one thing we have lots ofhere, we’ll get around to it, you know.Betty highlights the fact that a SACW’s reflections can involvethoughts about purpose. When she says “I guess that’s been one of ourgoals - teaching children responsibility for their own behaviour” she isconnecting purpose with action. She wanted to share her thoughtprocesses out loud with the children, to share her expectations thateveryone involved would help to fix the situation and that she was“going to do it with them, not for them.”Reflective Performance #6: Steve at the “Fishing Hole”This last vignette does not come from an observation of one ofthe SACWs involved in the study, it comes instead form my ownexperience working with children during a special event at theUniversity’s Winter Sports Complex during the time I was involved inthe field work. The details of this experience were written down in myreflexive journal and the experience itself represents a breakthrough inmy own understanding of reflection in the midst of action and of actionin the midst of reflection. What follows is the entry from the journal(Feb. 20, 1993).107Yesterday evening I was working at the University arenahelping the UBC Hockey School with a Family Night that wasalso used to promote the Varsity hockey team. I washelping to implement activities for children before thegame and during the intermissions in the game. Some of theactivities included a puck-shoot in the hallway, face-painting, popcorn-making, etc. My role was to move aroundbetween the various activities and help out where needed.One of the activities that was set up was a “Fishing Hole”where each child caught a fish (an object floating in a poolfilled with blue-coloured water) and then got to guess atthe magic number. If a child guessed the magic number,then he or she won a prize. As we were setting up wereally didn’t know if the Fishing Hole would be popular ornot. As the families filed into the arena it quickly becameapparent that the Fishing Hole was very popular - sopopular in fact that there was an immediate problem withcrowd control - children were trying to get a chance to“fish” from all around the pool and, at first, only the pushy,aggressive children were getting their turns. The adultsrunning the Fishing Hole activity asked me for assistance,and one of them (an experienced school teacher) tried toorganize the children by standing at the pool and calling tothe children to form a line. This had little effect.I thought for a moment. I remember thinking to myself “Ishould know what to do here, but I don’t - I don’t knowthese children and I’ve never seen this activity run beforeso I don’t even have a picture of what the game or thecrowd control should look like”. I also remember beingdisturbed by the tact that only the pushy, aggressive kidswere getting a chance and many children who wanted to“fish” weren’t getting a chance. I remember thinking tomyself “This is unfair”. I looked around for some materialto make a sign with. At least that’s how my thoughtprocess began. I got a couple of felt pens, some tape and abig sheet of poster-board. As I was thinking about what towrite on the sign I realized that I didn’t have a clue aboutwhere to put the sign. I also realized that there was more108than one piece of poster-board. Then it hit me - rightthere, right then - I knew what to do. I had an idea and Iwas certain that it would work. I clearly rememberexperiencing a sense of certainty - I just knew it wouldworkI wrote out two signs and made a sandwich board. I tapedthe two signs together so that I could wear one on the frontand one on the back. The front sign read “Please line uphere” with an arrow pointing down, and the second signread “Please line up ahead of me”. Then I waded into thecrowd, stood facing the fishing hole and began to invitekids to form a line in front of me. I thought about how Ifelt when someone let me in front of them at the grocerystore check-out line if I only had to buy one or two itemsand they had to buy a whole buggie-Ioad full. I thought hownice it felt to be let into a line. As I stood there I alsothought about the phenomenon of “being in line” and Ithought about two things. First, I don’t like to wait in lineif I think that other people are getting their needs metfaster by not standing in line, and second I thought that itfeels validating to be in line ahead of someone else - then Iknow that things are becoming somewhat orderly.For the most part I did not say much, I simply looked forchildren who weren’t getting a chance and then made eyecontact with them, then I would point to the sign andmotion with my hand for them to come and stand in front ofme if they wanted to. If the child looked like he/she couldnot read, then I invited them verbally. As the line formedquickly in front of me I found myself in a good position tosee the whole crowd. I could see the line and how it wasoperating. I would call out to children who had justfinished their turn and invite them to come and take theirplace in the line in front of me. I also called out to severalchildren who tried to “butt in line”. I said assertively“Excuse me, the line starts right here in front of me - itsays so right here on the sign”. Within a couple of minutesorder prevailed - each child got a fair chance to fishseveral times before the next period of the hockey game109started. I also got a chance to talk to most of the children,to ask them if they enjoyed the game, what they liked aboutit, where they were from, etc. I remember standing at theend of the line wearing my sandwich board and thinking“Now, this is fair”.Perhaps because of the research I was more in tune with theissue of thinking in action. As I have already mentioned, I initiallyf e It that I should know what to do, and at the same time I knew that Ireally did not have a clue - there was no obvious answer or time-testedformula. I thought about making a sign because I did not want to raisemy voice over and above the noise that was already being made aroundthe Fishing Hole and because, since I did not know these children andthey did not know me, I felt that I had no recognizable authority (but asign might provide me with some). I was keenly aware that I was still“clue-less” as I collected the pens and went over to where the posterpaper was kept. I had a felt pen in my right hand and was thinkingabout the wording of the sign when I glanced at my left hand andnoticed that it was resting on two or three other sheets of posterboard. That’s when the idea hit me - make two signs, one for my front,one for my back. Then I thought “Great I A sandwich board, just standthere and look at the kids and point to the sign, they’ll figure it out forthemselves !“. What struck me about this idea was how instantlycertain I felt about the ultimate effectiveness of the strategy. I knew110it would work.Schon’s Concept of Reflection-in-ActionFrom these six vignettes it can be seen that skillful performancein SAC can come about when there is a merging of thought and action,that is, when SACWs think in the midst of action. An interestingparallel to this can be found in Schon’s (1983, 1990) concept ofreflection-in-action. Schon (1983) states that, besides thinking aboutour actions after these actions have taken place:We sometimes think about what we are doing. Phrases like“thinking on your feet”, “keeping your wits about you”, and“learning by doing” suggest not only that we can thinkabout doing but that we can think about doing somethingwhile doing it. Some of the most interesting examples ofthis process occur in the midst of a performance (p. 54).Schon goes on to give examples of major-league baseball pitchers and agroup of jazz musicians. When he interviewed several major-leaguebaseball pitchers they stated that, to be effective as a pitcher, one hadto “learn how to adjust once you’re out there”. Schon comments:the pitchers are talking about a particular kind ofreflection. What is ‘learning to adjust once you’re outthere’? Presumably it involves noticing how you have beenpitching to the batters and how well it has been working,and on the basis of these thoughts and observations,changing the way you have been doing it. . . The pitchersseem to be talking about a kind of reflection on theirpatterns of action, on the situations in which they areperforming, and on the know-how implicit in theirperformance. They are reflecting .n action and, in some111cases, reflecting In action (1983, P. 55, emphasis inoriginal).It could be said, then, that a baseball pitcher learns to becomemore effective at his work to the extent that he becomes better atmaking on-line adjustments while on the pitcher’s mound. He learns tobecome more effective as he cultivates the ability to reflect on hisimplicit know-how while in the midst of playing the game.Schon also uses the example of a group of jazz musicians. Hewrites:When good jazz musicians improvise together, they alsomanifest a ‘feel for’ their material and they make on-the-spot adjustments to the sounds they hear. Listening to oneanother and to themselves, they feel where the music isgoing and adjust their playing accordingly. . .As themusicians feel the direction of the music that isdeveloping out of their interwoven contributions, theymake new sense of it and adjust their pertormance to thenew sense that they made. They are reflecting-in-actionon the music that they are collectively making and on theirindividual contributions to it, thinking what they are doingand, in the process, evolving their way of doing it (1983, p.56).The SACWs in the vignettes, like Schon’s baseball pitchers andjazz musicians, adjust their actions in the the midst of theirperformances. These adjustments are based on thinking about what isgoing on and, in the process, evolving their way of doing it. The sixvignettes are examples of skillful practice precisely because they are112demonstrations of reflection-in-action. In each vignette there is astrong connection between the SACW’s values orientation, the overallpurposes that she attributes to her work with children, her strategiesand responses, and the eventual outcome of the vignette.The importance of “professional helpers” being able to thinkquickly (and effectively) in the midst of action has been underscored byCombs, et al (1972). In the following quotation they describe theconcept of the “instantaneous response”.In examining the helping professions, it becomes apparentthat the common characteristic of these activities isinstantaneous response. That is to say, all the helpingprofessions seem to differ from more mechanical vocationsin the immediacy of reaction required of the helper. Forexample, in teaching, when the child says something to histeacher, his teacher must respond instantaneously. Theinterchange between a teacher and her pupils will bedifferent every moment, and the teacher must be preparedto react to each child in terms of the unique question, idea,problem, and concern that he is expressing at thatparticular instant. Similarly, the patient asking the nurse,“Am I going to get well ?“ must be answered. A delay inthe nurse’s answer while she stops to think of what sheshould say is already an answer. This immediate nature ofhelping relationships is characteristic, too, of the socialworker and his client, the pastor and the parishioner, or thecounselor and his client. All are dependent upon instantresponse (p. 5, emphasis in original).All of the vignettes in this chapter are examples of SACWsinvolved in instantaneous responses. Effective work in SAC requires113that SACWs construct instantaneous responses that are consistentwith the purposes that they have set out for their work with children.Hills (1989) has stated that:Becoming a professional child and youth care practitioneris a complex and challenging process. It involves not onlyacquiring certain knowledge and skill but also acquiring theability to use this knowledge and skill spontaneously in awide variety of situations. Child and youth carepractitioners need to make instantaneous responses toinnumerable events encountered in their daily work.However, there are no formula responses or techniques thatare appropriate in every situation. The professional workerresponds “in the moment” to the situation at hand. Theprofessional worker’s ability to choose an appropriatemanner of responding is therefore not a mechanicalprocess, rather, the effective practitioner createsresponses that are individualized and that fit the specificsof the particular situation (p. 17, emphasis in original).In the same vein, Ayers (1989) has made the point that the “secret” topreschool teaching is in the details of everyday practice (p. 4). Thesame can be said of SAC. Maler (1990) stresses the importance of “theminutiae of child care” practice - the the small details of interplaybetween the child care worker and the child (p. 19).The concept of instantaneous response and the importance of thedetails of everyday child care practice help to underscore theimportance of the SACW’s ability to reflect-in-action. Learning tobecome more effective, then, can be seen as a process whereby the114SACW develops the ability to think clearly within action. This requiresthat the SACW has acquired a selection of tools for her tool box, andhas constructed a critical rationale for practice. At its highest level,learning in SAC involves constructing connections between the “What”,the “Why”, and the “How”, while immersed in immediate action.Learning, in this sense, means developing the ability to “put it alltogether” in such a way as to actualize one’s guiding principles andoverall gaols within each moment-to-moment interaction with eachchild. An effective SACW is a reflective practitioner.115Chapter Six:Conclusions & ImplicationsIn this final chapter I will summarize the main findings of thisresearch project. I will also draw some conclusions from thesefindings and then highlight the major implications for adult educationin the field of SAC. Finally, I will suggest some directions for furtherresearch in this area.Summary of FindingsThroughout this research project I found that adult learning inSAC occurred at two basic “levels”. These two levels of learning canbe viewed through Maier’s (1986) concept of first-order and second-order change. First-order change is incremental, linear, andprogressive. It is characterized by small, tangible additions to theSACW’s skill or knowledge repertoire. It is essentially addingknowledge or skills to an already existing stockpile - “more of thesame”. On the other hand, second-order change involves a morequalitative change, a transformation from one level of perceiving to a“higher” level. Second-order change involves a fundamental shift inthe learner’s thinking, a reframing of previous learning which serves asa springboard for a transformation to a new level of understanding.116Several examples of both types of learning can be found in the data.Consistent with the different levels of learning and change, italso became evident that adult learning in SAC can be viewed from adevelopmental perspective. At different times each individual SACWwill require educational experiences that are closely related to theirdevelopmental level. At times first-order learning will bedevelopmentally appropriate, at other times second-order change willbe more appropriate.During the fieldwork I encountered several incidents of “initialdenial” - a tendency for some SACWs to deny or downplay thethoughtfulness involved in their skillful action. In all cases the SACWseventually did clearly describe the thoughtfulness that served as abasis for their skillful action. This tendency of initial denial can beexplained by a combination of the concept of “tacit skills andknowledge” (Polanyl, 1967, 1969; Schon, 1983) and the concept of“invisible skills” (Morley, 1993; see also Gaskell’s (1992) discussionon the the social construction of what is meant by a “skill”).According to Schon, competent practitioners usually know more thanthey can describe about their own skillful action. In their action theyexhibit a tacit knowledge. Their knowing is in their action, and is thusdifficult for them to describe. Sometimes their descriptions soundincomplete or inadequate in relation to the complexity of their skillful117action. On the other hand, the initial denials may stem from the factthat the skills are “invisible” because society does not usuallyrecognize child care skills as valuable. Some SACWs may bepredisposed to initially deny that their work involves thoughtful actionthat is worth reflecting on and talking about.It is obvious from the data that SACWs do think about what theyare doing and they do reflect on various aspects of their job. It ispossible for SACWs to reflect upon their own upbringing, positive rolemodels, and moments that make their work worthwhile to them.SACWs also reflect upon the purpose of their work, and consciouslyevaluate the effectiveness of their strategies and responses.Two prominent patterns emerged in the reflections on content inthe data. One pattern can be described as the “Golden Rule” and theother as “sane communication.” Many SACWs articulated some form ofthe Golden Rule, and traced the roots of their skillful performancesback to this guiding principle. The consistent application of the GoldenRule is itself a form of reflective practice in SAC. Another patternthat emerged from the data involved the way that the SACWscommunicated with the children. Two basic types of communicationcould be distinguished in the data. Adult-to-child communication is“sane” (Ginott, 1972) to the extent that it accurately reflects thesituation at hand and the feelings of the child. Sane messages are118firmly rooted in the reality of the present situation, serve to clarifychoices for the child, and help the child to trust her inner reality.“Insane” communication, on the other hand, serves to devalue anddisrespect the child, and tells her to distrust her own capabilities andfeelings. There were several examples of each type of communicationin the data. Happily, the examples of sane communication greatlyoutnumbered the examples of insane communication. It becameapparent during the interviews that using sane communication requiresa special kind of reflective process. This reflective process involvesself-awareness, self-control and self-censoring (choosing one’s wordscarefully) and parallels Wasserman’s (1990) notion of hearing what oneis saying one is saying it.One of the most prominent findings of this study is that work inSAC can be seen as reflective practice, and that SACWs can be viewedas reflective practitioners. Skillful practice in SAC involves theintegration of thought and action. At some point in their developmenteffective SACWs must learn how to think in the midst of action. Theymust be able to act reflectively and to reflect actively. This hasimportant implications for adult education in the field.ConclusionsIn this thesis I have demonstrated that SACWs do indeed reflectupon their work. I have also shown that SACWs can learn to become119more effective in their work by becoming more reflective - bybecoming more conscious of their purposes, options, choice andbehaviours - and by developing their ability to reflect in the midst oftheir action.Ayers (1989) studied six preschool teachers as they reflected ontheir work lives. He hypothesized that:In becoming more self-conscious, I figured, teachers couldalso become more intentional, more able to endorse orreject aspects of their own teaching that they foundhopeful or contrary, more able to author their own teachingscripts (p. 5).The same can be said about SACWs. Much of the data from myfieldwork suggests that as SACWs become more aware of what it isthat they value for themselves and the children (respect, cooperation,trust, responsibility, etc.) the more they are able to harness theiractions in the service of high quality SAC.SACWs can learn by adding specific skills and activity ideas totheir existing knowledge and skill bases. They can also learn byreviewing elements of their own practice. They can articulate theirgoals and principles and then re-align their strategies to create acloser match between what they do and why they do it. This requiresthe integration of thought and action. Argyris and Schon (1975) haveasserted that “all human beings - not only professional practitioners -120need to become competent in taking action and simultaneouslyreflecting on this action to learn from it” (p. 4).SACWs can learn by making the implicit theories that they use intheir day-to-day practice more explicit. Spodek (1988) has shown thatearly childhood professionals use implicit theories in their work withchildren. He further asserts that these implicit theories form thefoundations of their day-to-day practice.These theories undergird professional practice. They arenot those developed by scholars and tested throughresearch. Rather, they are developed by professionalpractitioners out of the distillation of their experience andthe experience of others and are tested in the crucible ofclinical experience. These theories provide the basis forinterpreting experience and help determine the decisionsand actions of practitioners (p. 166).Spodek has called the knowledge that practitioners have constructedout of their personal experience “practical knowledge”.SACWs also use practical knowledge in their work with children.They can improve their effectiveness by becoming more aware of thepractical knowledge that they use implicitly. Making their practicalknowledge more explicit would help them to take more intentionalcontrol over that knowledge, enhance what works and reassess whatneeds to be improved. Reflection is the primary process through whichimplicit theories become explicit.121Reflection as LearningFrank is involved in reflection-in-action when he chooses hisstrategy, words and tone of voice carefully. Betty is involved inreflection-in-action when she responds to an opportunity to helpchildren learn about responsibility. These examples of reflectiveperformances are descriptions of SACWs doing their job well. Thesedescriptions are not, in and of themselves, descriptions of learning.Nevertheless, most of the informants in this study felt that they aremuch more effective now compared to when they first started workingwith children. Frank commented that he can now think a lot quicker onhis feet, and that this quick thinking helps him develop effectivestrategies with children. Cindy commented that she is now more awareof the potential effects that her choice of words can have on a child.These examples suggest that SACWs can learn to reflect on and in theiraction. In other words, although reflection-in-action is a descriptionof what a skilled SACW does, it is also an important avenue throughwhich SACWs learn to become more effective.Reflective performances involve several different elements: asense of purpose, a matching of strategies to specific situations, andthe intelligent application of those strategies in the midst ofcontinuous action. Adult learning in SAC can take the form of theSACW becoming more aware of the purposes that she ascribes to her122work. Learning can take the form of the acquisition of more strategies.It can also take the form of the development of faster, moreintentional applications of those strategies - a better developedability to think on one’s feet. Argyris & Schon (1975) have pointed outthat “the formation or modification of a theory-in-use is itself alearning process” (p. 18). The acquisition of values is learning. Thedevelopment of better ways to articulate those values is learning. Thedevelopment of better ways to actualize those values is learning aswell. When SACWs are involved in constructing ideas about what isimportant to them, when they are engaged in the acquisition ofpractical knowledge, and when they are actively applying thatknowledge in the present situation, they are, in fact, engaged in theprocess of learning.Reflection is not the only mode of learning in SAC. SACWs canacquire more activity ideas and intervention strategies withoutnecessarily reflecting on them (for example Andrea’s strategy ofclapping to the beat “We will Rock You” to get the children’s attention).However, it is unlikely that a SACW can learn beyond a certain pointuntil she learns to reflect on her work, and ultimately, to reflect in themidst of her work.Implic ionsThere are several implications that result from the findings123presented in this paper. Three implications will be examined in thissection: 1) the need to provide opportunities for adult learners in SACto reflect on and articulate the what and the why of their practice; 2)the need to emphasize the complexity and richness of the skill andthoughtfulness involved in quality SAC practice; and 3) the usefulnessof making a distinction between training and education for adultlearners in SAC. I shall now address each of these implications in turn.Opportunities to Reflect on and Dialogue about PracticeAs discussed in Chapter One, there is an increased demand forformal training and education in SAC. Given the results of thefieldwork reported in this study, providers of formal and informaladult education in SAC must strive to provide opportunities forlearners to reflect upon their action and to articulate what they do andwhy they do it. The learners can articulate this to themselves, to otherlearners, and to adult educators in SAC.Jones and her colleagues (1993) apply a constructivist model toadult education in child care. In this model “each human actor, ininteraction with others, constructs his or her own continually shiftingknowledge” (p. xiii). According to this view, knowledge can beconstructed by the learner through action on the environment,observation of that environment, reflection on that action, and dialogue124with others.Beers (1993) writes about the importance of each child careworker’s “unique knowledge” (p. 11). He asserts that to becomeeffective both in terms of national standards (U.S. Head Start) and herown specific cultural context, a child care worker “must construct forherself, out of her observation and her life experience, a way ofhandling children” (p. 5). Speaking about his role as an educator ofNative American Head Start teachers, Beers says:I ask them to put themselves into a frame of mind in whichthey observe themselves at work and reflect on what theyobserve. Ask questions of themselves, ask questions ofothers - parents, elders, college teachers - and begin tointegrate their practice as educators the results of theirown and other’s reflection (p. 9).and further:The emphasis is on describing action. Then I ask [thelearner] to explain why what she is doing is important tothe children’s development (p. 10).According to Beers, this learning process provides the learner with“the opportunity to reflect upon her experience . . .[and upon] thelessons she has learned from this self-reflective process” (p. 16).Through this process the learner can:internalize the mental discipline of observing andreflecting on her own behavior in order to talk through andthink through issues such as these: “Is what I’m doing heregood for children ? Do children grow and prosper from this125?“ She can then modify her own behavior based on thefeedback she provides herself (p. 17).In this study there are several examples of this kind of“reflective conversation” (Schon 1983). For example, Cindy says“when I say a wrong thing, I think about it a lot to figure out whatcould I have done ?“ In another example, Frank describes his thoughtprocess “I think how would I want someone to talk to me ?, and I thinkwell how would I feel about it if they did it this way if I was a kid ?“Besides learning from her own dialogue from within, the SACWcan also learn when she engages in dialogues with other learners.Jones (1993) points out that “adults learn complex tasks and conceptsby doing them and reflecting and dialoguing about them” (p. xii). Sheemphasizes that much important learning can come “through discussionwith peers who are in the process of constructing similar knowledge”(p. xvi).Supporting and encouraging SACWs to reflect upon and toarticulate what they do and why it is important is a way of helpingthem to “find their voices”. They can discover the words and developthe confidence to describe their work and their skills in ways that dojustice to the richness and complexity of SAC. Greenough (1993)points out that “to ‘find one’s voice’ is a significant step inrecognizing oneself as competent” (p. 28).126Emphasize Skill and Thought in SAC PracticeThe findings presented in this study point to the need for thosewho are responsible for facilitating the growth and development ofSACWs (either in formal educational settings or in work settings) toemphasize the complexity and richness of the skills and thoughtinvolved in quality practice. Many adult learners in SAC may need tohear “other voices” recognizing and affirming the fact that theeffective execution of child care work requires great amounts of skilland thought. It may be possible then for the SACWs themselves torecognize many of the skills and knowledge that they tacitly possess,and to begin to consciously plan to learn the skills and knowledge thatthey still need to acquire.Hass-Foletta and Cogley (1990) have stated that “caring forschool-age children during their out-of-school hours is a professionrequiring a unique mix of skills and abilities on the part of the adultleaders” (p. 1). The very idea that SAC work is skilled work needs to bestrongly represented to adult learners in the classroom and in the field.This recognition and affirmation would itself help to promote learning.When the skills are made more visible they become more tangible andthus more amenable to intentional acquisition.Recognizing and affirming the thought processes that accompany127skillful action in SAC may be slightly more difficult than recognizingand affirming the skills themselves. I undertook an in-depth review ofthe literature pertaining to SAC and found little or no mention of the“thinking” of SACWs. This forced me to search elsewhere for clues tothe kind of thinking that accompanies skillful caring. Ruddick (1989)provided me with some clues when she writes about “maternalthinking”:Daily, mothers think out strategies of protection,nurturance, and training. Frequently conflicts betweenstrategies or between fundamental demands provokemothers to think about the meaning and relative weight ofpreservation, growth, and acceptability. In quietermoments, mothers reflect on their practice as a whole. Asin any group of thinkers, some mothers are moreambitiously reflective than others, either out oftemperamental thoughtfulness, moral and politicalconcerns, or, most often, because they have seriousproblems with their children. However, maternal thinkingis no rarity. Maternal work itself demands that mothersthink; out of this need for thoughtfulness, a distinctivediscipline emerges . . . Maternal thinking is one kind ofdisciplined reflection among many, each with identifyingquestions, methods, and aims (p. 24).Like Ruddick’s maternal thinking, “SAC thinking” too can be viewed asdisciplined reflection. Recognizing and affirming the kinds of thinkingthat accompany skillful action in SAC will help to give adult learnersthe confidence and the motivation to continue learning to become moreeffective in their work with children.128Reflective competence could be facilitated in a number of ways.In college-level courses for SACWs, adult students could be asked toreflect upon various child care situations that they have experienced.They could then be directed to ask themselves questions like: “Whathappened ?“, “What did I do?”, “What knowledge, skills, and attitudesdid I use to construct my response to the situation ?“, “What otheroptions did I have ?“ “In retrospect, would I have preferred to handlethe situation differently ?“ and uHow did my responses match myintentions and my overall purposes for my work in child care ?“ Adultstudents could also be presented with realistic SAC scenarios and beasked to imagine their responses to those scenarios. The studentscould then be asked to reflect upon their responses and connect thoseresponses with their overall purposes.Adult students could also be directed to discuss their reflectionsin small groups. These peer-learner discussions could be a productiveforum for students to practice articulating their purposes andanalyzing their responses in terms of those purposes.Reflective competence can also be facilitated when adultstudents are exposed to specific examples of SACWs reflecting in themidst of their action. This exposure could take the form of studentsreading and discussing transcripts such as the vignettes found inChapter 5, role-playing situations in class, or watching video tapes of129real-life SAC practice. Seeing and hearing other SACWs engagingthemselves in “reflective conversations” (Schon, 1990, p. 40) will helpadult students become more comfortable engaging in their ownreflective conversations, It will also help them to realize that theycan learn to become more effective in their work by becoming morereflective.Reflective competence can also be facilitated in work-relatedsettings. According to Schon (1990), senior practitioners canfunction as coaches whose main activities are demonstrating, advising,questioning, and criticizing” (p. 38). Coaches can demonstrate whatappropriate SAC practice can look and sound like, advise learners abouta variety of options open in any given situation, help the learner toquestion the connection between actions and overall purposes, andconstructively critique various aspects of the learner’s practice.As SACWs are asked time and again to reflect upon their childcare experiences and upon the experiences of others, they can get getinto the habit of reflecting on their work-related action. As theirreflective competence grows they may also begin to reflect in themidst of their practice.Making a Distinction Between Training and EducationVander Ven (1986) makes an important distinction betweentraining and education in the child care field. Several other child care130authors have also made a similar distinction (Demers, 1990; Peters,1981). According to Vander Ven (1986):Training refers to specific information and skilldevelopment which is provided in order to enable persons todo a specific job in a specific setting. It is primarilyconcerned with “how to” in the immediate situation, ratherthan with “why” and with whether the skill hasapplicability elsewhere.Education, on the other hand, is concerned withbroader perspectives: providing a conceptual base for theframing of information; inculcating thinking and problemsolving skills that permit the practitioner to be able toadapt current practice to emerging and future needs . . andencouraging long term transferability of knowledge andskills.Training must not be confused with education inestablishing recognized professional levels of preparation.Each has a different role (p. 17, emphasis in original).There are important parallels between these definitions oftraining and education and Maler’s notions of first- and second-orderchange. Training seems to correspond to first-order change andeducation to second-order change. Training involves adding more toolsto the tool-box. Education involves helping learners to think in newways.An important point to emphasize here is that training andeducation serve different functions. While they are related to eachother, each performs a different role and each provides the adultlearner with a different relationship to knowing and knowledge. “Pure”131training tends to be delivered by an expert - someone who is seen tohave all the answers. “Pure” education tends to be more facilitativeand places more value on the experience and competence of thelearners.Received knowers - learners who “conceive of themselves ascapable of receiving, even reproducing, knowledge from the all-knowingexternal authorities but not capable of creating knowledge on theirown” (Belenky et al, 1986. p. 15) - are more likely to benefit fromtraining than are people who are comfortable with the idea ofconstructing their own knowledge. At the same time, however, manyreceived knowers need to be challenged by some pure educationalexperiences in order to develop new ways of thinking and to becomemore effective. Greenough (1993), writing about her own adult trainingand education efforts in the child care field states:Showing and telling someone what to do may be useful for atime, but unless a [child care worker] can think for herself,her training will break down when new problems arise thatshe has never dealt with before (p. 35).On the other hand, constructive knowers - learners who “view allknowledge as contextual, experience themselves as creators ofknowledge, and value both subjective and objective strategies forknowing” (Belenky et al, 1986, p. 15) - would benefit less fromtraining and more from educational opportunities which may include132observations of other programs, reflexive journal writing, anddialogues with peers.Implications for Further ResearchSeveral implications for further research stem from the findingsof this research project. It would be interesting and useful toimplement a longitudinal study of several SACWs as they enter thefield, and trace the development of their skills and thought processes.This study could follow the SACWs for a three year period anddocument “learning markers” and transitional experiences in theirdevelopment.It would also be useful to do an in-depth study of one or twoSACWs. This could be a collaborative ethnography similar to Rogers etal (1987). In that particular study the principal researchercollaborated with a front-line preschool teacher and the director of thechild development centre. They pointed out that “for different reasons,we were all asking the same general but enormously importantquestion: What makes a good early education teacher good?” (p. 34). Asimilar collaborative endeavour could be set up in the SAC field.Research could also be done regarding training and educationalopportunities for SACWs and the content of the curriculum in thoseopportunities. How much of the curriculum involves training in thesense used in this chapter ? How much of it involves education ? How133much of it encourages first-order change, and how much of itencourages second-order change ?And of course, further research similar to the type used in thisstudy would also be useful. This research could be done on a largerscale by increasing the number of SACWs and/or increasing the numberof observations and interviews.Final SummaryGiven that there is an increased demand for adult educationin SAC, there is now a need to understand the phenomenon ofadult learning in this field. We now know that there are differentlevels of learning involved which can be characterized as first-and second-order change. We also know that important learningcan come through content, process, and the interplay between thetwo. Working in SAC requires the adult to step outside of heraction and reflect on it and, ultimately, within it. 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