Learner agency at the confluence between rights-based approaches and well-being

Thursday 7 March, 4.30pm to 6pm, DMB 1S3
Faculty of Education, Hills Road, Cambridge

In this seminar, Colleen McLaughlin explores Schools, psychosocial well-being and agency: From fragmentation to coherence and Caroline Sarojini Hart discusses A capability approach to children’s well-being, agency and participatory rights in education.  As well as hearing from both speakers, there will be plenty of time for discussion to draw out the overlapping theme of learner agency. The papers form part of a special issue of the European Journal of Education – Research, Development and Policy, 53 (3), published in September 2018.

Schools, psychosocial well-being and agency: From fragmentation to coherence Colleen McLaughlin, cm10009@cam.ac.uk

This presentation is about the relationship between everyday practice in schools and the development of agency. It examines two areas of current concern in which agency is seen to play a key role: young people’s mental health or human flourishing and their development as citizens. The argument is made that the foundation stone of agency is self-efficacy and that related crucial attitudes and beliefs are learned in school. The role of agency in learning and its importance in young people’s psychosocial development are discussed. The latter part of the presentation focuses upon how schools can become effectively agency orientated.

A capability approach to children’s well-being, agency and participatory rights in education Caroline Sarojini Hart, cfsscr2@cam.ac.uk

Caroline will present a paper, co-authored with Nicolás Brando, applying a capability approach to examine how children’s agency, well-being and participation rights can be developed and supported in educational settings. Amartya Sen’s concepts of agency and well-being freedoms and achievements are introduced to highlight the tensions and trade-offs between risks to children’s agency and well-being in and through educational processes. By positioning the development of children’s agency as an explicit and important goal of education, alongside well-being achievement, the presentation aims to broaden the evaluative space for assessing what constitutes quality in children’s education. The presentation closes with some reflections on implications for policy and practice.