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Educação e Pesquisa

Print version ISSN 1517-9702On-line version ISSN 1678-4634

Educ. Pesqui. vol.45  São Paulo  2019  Epub May 20, 2019

https://doi.org/10.1590/s1678-4634201945186921 

SECTION: ARTICLES

Imaginaries and practices of Children`s Rights in the formation of first-infancy teachers

María Delia Martínez-Núñez1 
http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6985-8185

Graciela Muñoz- Zamora1 
http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0719-5915

1- Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, Santiago de Chile, Chile. Contacts: deliacameliaster@gmail.com; graciela.munoz@umce.cl.


Abstract

This paper is a reflection on the three areas of strain for a conception of children`s rights in Chile. A first area of tension is, related to the absence of coherent project for infancy to include policies in formal education system and a long-term direction for this sector in the country. A second area of tension lies on the inconsistency shown between the discourse on children`s rights, and the actions on children in the educational system. This is based on the inconsistency that seems to exist between the enunciation of children`s rights and a lack of efficiency in such discourse as areas of violence remain in the first infancy education. A third area of this tension relates to the absence of an education system that will allow teaching students to develop a degree of autonomy and formation promoting a commitment with infancy and children’s rights.

Key words: Rights; Children; Infancy educators; Formation

Resumen

Este artículo constituye una reflexión acerca de tres ejes en los cuales se tensa la concepción de derecho de niños y niñas en Chile. Un primer punto de tensión se refiere a la inexistencia de un proyecto consistente acerca de la infancia, que incorpore las políticas en el plano de la educación formal y que señale una dirección a largo plazo para este sector del país. Un segundo punto de tensión es la incoherencia que se manifiesta entre el discurso acerca de los derechos de niños y niñas y las acciones de que es objeto la niñez en la educación. Ésta se cimienta en la incoherencia que parece existir entre la enunciación de los derechos de los niños y la poca eficacia de este discurso mientras siguen existiendo enclaves de violencia en la educación para la primera infancia. Un tercer punto de tensión se refiere a la carencia de una educación que permita a los/las estudiantes de Pedagogía la autonomía y formación adecuada que les haga mantener un compromiso con la niñez y sus derechos.

Palabras-clave: Derechos; Niños y niñas; Formación de educadores/as infantiles

Introduction

The use of a group of civil, political, and social rights presupposes the practice of a series of actions that are understood as the exercise of full citizenship. In recent decades, the rapid changes in the social, economic, political and cultural order have required the mobilization of a fuller and more flexible citizenship that may expand not only to the public domain, but also to the private domain. This implies the problematization of theories on formal citizenship and the conceptualization of an active citizenship (PLUMMER, 2003; LISTER, 2007). Traditionally, citizenship has been conceived as a classic correspondence of rights and duties, only favoring those who can participate in a series of assumptions that are at the base of such conceptualization (MARSHALL, 1950). Thus, rights and the concept of citizenship are starting to include new dimensions and categories, such as the consideration of universal citizenship, intimate citizenships, and urban citizenships. This process has increased the expectations of inclusion of community groups traditionally excluded from the exercise of full citizenship. In this context, infancy has become an actor of social participation.

The studies of modern citizenship started at the end of World War II, as a group of extremely limited and formalized rights and duties started to shape. (MARSHALL, 1950). The rapid postwar economic growth created a more modern concept and a feeling of material wellbeing in most of the industrialized world and produced a change in cultures and values. The best example of the reflection initiated in the period is the universalization of Human Rights by means of a United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1959. Since then, there has been constant recognition of revindications of various groups that thought that access to rights must be genuine and not only nominal. Globally, equality still generates a rhetoric of rights, shaping a growing preoccupation for their integration to culture and for their legitimation. The groups historically excluded from the full state of citizenship are women, boys and girls, ethnic and racial communities, and indigenous communities that have been disregarded ashaving second-class citizenship status, or even as having no citizenship status at all. (HEISELER, 2005).

In the case of infancy, the etymological change in the word infancy from singular to plural has displaced the nominalization associating the infancy imaginary to absence of capacities and has made the infancy universe more diverse. For Gaitán (2011), the word infancy etymologically contains an enunciative intention denying the option of independent thinking and participation in the world. As diversity is opening to plurality, a gap between essentialist and universalist ideas of boy and girl is created and it initiates a process of re-semantization of the word. The study of these and other cultural phenomena builds an ontological fabric, including the world of the street, the market, corporality and communications. These are phenomena that act on educational practices and lead to think of pedagogical subjectivity and the imaginaries it entails. This process relates to what Amaro Cano (2012) points out as the dismantling of the foundations of the school, implicating a warning of the dangers of delegitimization of the school as a fundamental institution in the formation and protection of infancy.

This phenomenon occurs in the context of a group of tensions underlying two cultural and historical processes: one is the civilizing effort in the West to protect and regulate infancy through family and school; and the other result from the consolidation of colonial-modern societies in Latin America and the Caribbean. The latter relates to the persistence of perceptions, discourses and practices associated to racism, sexism, patriarchy, and classism. (AMADOR PINEDA, 2007). This process requires commitment of the school educational policy and of its community, for actors who participate in these spaces to shape and strengthen the characteristics and unique features of the instances where they are intended to be practiced. Reis proposes to advance to an ethical formation of rights of boys and girls, considering “[…] the superior interest of children, the recognition of the dignity and respect for the rights of the child, their progressive autonomy, and the priority of children” (2008, p. 170). Then, rights are considered as a call for concrete and practicable actions. Yet the superior interest of child is sometimes considered as a vague guideline with a multiplicity of interpretations (FERRAJOLI, 1995). Though the Convention for Children Rights is a protective legislation that entails the promotion of public policy, it should be considered especially as a pillar for the construction of a more equalitarian culture that is more respectful of boys and girls (CILLERO, 2001).

The absence of a coherent Infancy Rights project in the Chilean educational context

In Chile, the scope and incidence of Human Rights for children is far from being a preoccupation. This is evident in the disastrous situation revealed in the report of the Special Investigation Commission for SENAMEO perationap pointed by the Chamber of Deputies. This is relevant, as this issue has existed for many years and has had strong impact on thousands of boys and girls in the country. (TORRES, 2017). Some initiatives have appeared, however, for the promotion of rights, and one of them is the designing of a new institutional framework by means of projects of Guarantee Laws, the creation of an Undersecretary Office for Infancy, and an Infancy Ombudsman, all in line with the signing of the Convention 27 years ago.

Although the National Commission for First-Infancy Schools (JUNJI), and the Integra Foundation have advanced in the implementation of a policy of good treatment to childhood, there are still situations of explicit rights violations. In relation to child abuse, the UNICEF report of 2012, indicates that 73,6% of boys and girls in Chile suffer some sort of abuse (UNICEF, 2012). The studies by Díaz and other authors (2016) reveal the gap existing between the fulfillment of full rights and the violence within the family, in the community and in the educational environment. These findings clearly show a culture that continues to justify violence against infancy as a result of the problems experienced by the adults. An answer provided by education is the generation of protocols to detect and denounce violence, but these protocols do not solve the underlying problem, that is, the difficulty of a society that has not yet found healthy mechanisms for its convivence with boys and girls. As Adlerste in warns: “We silently and day by day reproduce violent and disapproving relationships with others” (2014, p. 2). One of the areas of debate around this process has been the idea that there are perfect or complete obligations, as opposed to imperfect or incomplete obligations. The first are determined by those who should protect or generate conditions for the exercise of rights, as is the case of State institutions. The second is related to unspecified obligations, that generally oblige to support the fulfillment of Rights. The educational system is precisely a referent for the practice and advancement of potential citizenship rights for the infancy in our country, and it is necessary to move forward in the determined and undetermined obligations. In this context, the emphasis on the educational policy has been focused on schooling coverage. Coverage in Chile from 5 to 6 years of age is 91%; from 2 to 3 years, 27,9 %, and from 3 to 4 years, 55,5%. These figures are determined by socioeconomic levels. At the creche level, there is an access gap between the first and fifth quintile (CHILE, 2009). Especially during the last government of the Nueva Mayoria coalition,(2014-2017), however, there was a progress in establishing a Under-Secretary Office for First-Infancy Education, in charge of defining public policy for the education of first-infancy, and the Intendency of First-Infancy Education, in charge of proposing norms for the supervision of educational centers. Both organisms are pioneers in Latin America. Likewise, a Framework for Good Teaching has been created, for First-Infancy Education, and the curricula basis has been updated and new standards for the formation of first-infancy educators have been designed. The entering of professionals trained in this area to the teaching career, established in the Law 20903, passed on 1st April 2016, has been also updated (CHILE, 2016).

Precisely, as a result of this new protocols and spaces designed for the first-infancy, formation in Human Rights and Infancy Rights become more important, to deal with contents of values, strategies, methodologies and didactics appropriate for the classroom. However, as reported by Dávila and Naya, there has been very limited progress in this area because of a lack of knowledge and interest among educational actors to integrate innovative perspectives leading to implementing rights in the educational context “[…] the traditional protectionist outlook prevails, despite the politically correct discourse on children rights” (2001, p. 50).

Some research (VILLALTA 2010) connects Human Rights to Rights of the Child, as, being Rights, they belong equally to all people and have the purpose of defending dignity. Thus, they should be recognized as universal, indivisible, interdependent, integral and complementary, inalienable and inviolable, not renounceable or prescriptible. The problem generates exactly in the gap between the practice of rights and their judicial structure, being political in character.

Although efforts have been made in recent years to increase the institutional exigencies for institutions that impart the teaching programs, and for the formation of educators, there are still problems such as the poor knowledge of the discipline, and a limited reflection on classroom issues. This situation may be making more difficult for educators to develop creative strategies to cope with the specific conditions of their students. (MORENO, 2012). This means that the possibility to reflect critically about transforming expectations in the students` sociocultural environment, and the difficulty of finding flexible educators in the face of curriculum adaptation and the conditions in which boys and girls live, are at stake.

The incoherence in the discourse about rights of boys and girls and the actions exerted on infancy through education

Not all the responsibility lies with the centers that form educators. The efficiency-oriented tradition, related to a technical formation (PÉREZ, 2004), has been a component of the neoliberal model implemented in the Chilean educational system, a model that introduced improvement measures based on a barrier of results that cannot be fully achieved. Although the Ministry of Education recognizes that the educational problems belong to the country, it also insists on and consolidates technocratic responses in the style of the World Bank (DONOSO, 2005). These responses are much more worrying in the case of the first-infancy education and of the infancy situation in general.

This limitation in the right to quality implies important challenges for the first-infancy educational cycle, as it is the consequence of a complex network of problems that affects the educational culture, its mechanisms and strategies. An approach to this issue has been the over-schooling in the educational system, something that creates a specific problem for the first cycles of the first-infancy education. Not only does it reduce an integral focus on this level, thus eliminating advantages of a formation that links significant contexts related to play, creativity and affectivity (ESPINOSA, 2009), but also takes it dangerously away from the infancy rights which are connected to the pedagogical action.

The need in the system for a curriculum structure promoting order and comprehension of the teaching subject-matters cannot be denied; however, this has become, in some cases, the central criteria in the formation of first-infancy educators, related to an imaginary of teachers’ efficiency (BELLEI; CONTRERAS; VALENZUELA, 2008).This trend is increased by evaluation through standardized tests, and by the control over teachers with poor results. This has surpassed the real possibility of implementing transversal criteria, and, thus, of making processes more complex, and has createdexactly theopposite effects, that is, the first-infancy schooling institutionalization.

These issues revealed an educational sector with limitations that do not allow it to respond adequately to the current challenges in the rights of boys and girls to a quality education. To achieve this, it seems essential what is established in Zabalza (1998), on the professional teaching identity, related to values that will commit educators to the integral development of its students. That is, a sense of pedagogical practice that may be projected beyond purely educational issues, and considers infancy as part of an integral dimension, to achieve results that can be transformed into the maximum potential for boys and girls. Some development has been achieved in these areas, but in first-infancy education we are still away from transcending the assistance aspects, in an understanding of the integral and complex dimension of the educational processes for the first-infancy level. In this scenario, rights and full citizenship of boys and girls in our country are yet to be considered as issues that reach beyond the pedagogic dimension and that are transversally present in it.

Given the characteristics of an over-schooled culture in first-infancy education, it seems pertinent to approach analysis from the theoretical perspective of infancy imaginaries that allow investigating complementary aspects of the problem. From the imaginary theory perspective, we can visualize transversal aspects in the process of teaching and learning because, as reported in Colomina and Rochera (2008), there is the need for teachers reflecting on and assessing their own imaginaries and representations of the students with whom they will work, their conception of learning, their place in the institution, etc.

Intersubjectivity within the classroom implies the consideration of situations emerging after lessons, for example, the results of learning and the type of the resulting product, both in cognitive and social activity, and in the teacher’s actions to achieve the expected resulting (GARCÍA-CABRERO; LOREDO; CARRANZA: 2008). Thus, a distinction needs to be made between the teaching practice applied to the classroom, and the teachers’ practicewithin the institutional context. This would mean the series of situations that indirectly influence the teaching and learning processes. The complex issue here is that separation is purely conceptual, as both domains intermingle permanently, and the teachers’ performance is where actions to protect rights are included or not.

The educational practice, according to the above-mentioned criteria, seems too vast a territory, including values, beliefs, knowledge and experiences that are too difficult to study, and, thus, pose the challenge of substantial analysis of reflection processes that are expected from teachers. This may be the cause of postponing its study. The imaginaries theory recognizes the relevance of diverse interpretations that teachers make of reality, and, as realityis generated from ideas, signs and symbols that are attributed to perceptions of reality, the world surrounding the teaching practice can be identified. Not only as an abstract denomination, but as the interpretation that educators have of their own practice, of its consequences and of the way this group of actions has consequences in their personal, social and affective universe. This is the place where we believe the exercise of rights by girls and boys also resides.

There are two imaginaries constructed around first-infancy education, and they are expressed in the experiences the educator carries out in the classroom. The first comes from the assistance tradition (ROJAS, 2010), and the second comes from the requirements of recent educational policy that have produced an early schooling. The first tends to relegate formation processes to a second place, and the second implements educational actions to prioritize contents, such as reading and writing and basic logic, mathematical operations, from an early age. This expresses the primacy of knowledge over other instances of personal development. It is a process that has gained ground in the initial age with the start of segmented study of specific subject-matters, such as language, mathematics, etc. It should be remembered that these trends express part of the History of Western childhood, as it responds to the trend among western countries for institutionalization and intervention as a part of a design for protection and charity towards children. This institutional model, apart from introducing literacy and hygienization forms for boys and girls, also sought to become the standard of propriety, social orthopedics, and good channeling (FOUCAULT, 2008). The results from this experimentation was the accentuation of an imaginary of fragility and want in childhood that added to a construct of an ambivalent imaginary fluctuating from childhood innocence to its natural inclination for evil.

These two imaginaries create a tension that has not been solved yet. The assistance logic is rooted in policy directed to the helpless childhood imaginary implemented at the beginning of the twentieth century (ROJAS; 2010) that resulted in the creation of centers to respond to medical and sanitary care for girls and boys in extreme poverty contexts. The early schooling imaginary is connected to the implementation of an educational policy that institutionalize childhood in preparation for the labor force, creating practically reclusive systems for children in most of countries in the West. (ANCHETA, 2008).

The policy for educators’ formation in the country generally expects students to complete their studies and be skilled in the application of the guidelines stemming from the central system and to be able to generate protection and safeguard of childhood, over academic criteria. These systems of childhood protection often lack a clear and priority itinerary along the formation curricula, as they are fundamentally constructed from soft skills. Unfortunately, the educators’ formation system has not been able to generate conditions so far for the fruitful coexistence of these two trends based in traditions historically relevant for the country. This is the place where unclear spaces emerge.

Citizenship presupposes the use of a series of civil, political, and social rights; according to Castells (2005), this legal principle, however, hides a real hierarchy in which full equality of human rights stated in the international legal instruments does not exist in social reality, where relativism persists. It is not unusual to recognize a broad gap between the theory and practice of citizenship, because, as Heiseler (2005) and Lister (2207) report, there is the need to consider citizenship with a “here and now” attitude. Both nationally and internationally, such gap can be observed because the opportunity for people to participate politically is directly related to a fair distribution of economic goods. Another issue for analysis is the use of a citizenship concept that is useful for the free, judicial and western societies, but that is not useful for all existing realities, especially in postcolonial societies, such as Latin America. These modifications are connected to the existence of what Giddens (1998) called risk societies, and to the globalization process that brought about important alterations in the theorization of the concept, and in the practice of citizens’ lives.

In the educational context, pedagogical practices tending to disciplinarianism and control do not promote a healthy convivence climate. Duarte (2012) warns that actions by educators still focus on an adult-centered conception that fails to recognize the progressive autonomy of boys and girls. Liebel (2015) observes a paternalistic bias in this, and Rendon (2010) mentions the imposition of standards that she classifies as senseless authoritarianism, expressed in the innumerable rules and regulations imposed by the school authority. These define the ethical principles of what is correct or incorrect, but boys and girls do not participate in the defining process. This situation leads educators to become regulators applying norms and it steals time and effort from the educational practices.

Evidently, this manner of approaching the teaching and learning processes results in the low valorization of the capabilities of boys and girls. From this perspective, the educational processes, far from challenging the students, become an incoherent reproduction of tedious subjects. This is not unusual, because, from the formation of educators, the imaginary stating that for educating first-infancy we do not required specific, profound, or sophisticated knowledge of subject-matters and contents taught in the classroom, maintains its primacy; consequently, there is a tendency to simplify knowledge, resulting in a lack of interest and creativity. The classroom approach of boys’ and girls’ rights is often a caricature, without mediation of a reflection on its deepest meaning. This issue is present when confronting the levels of information that boys and girls acquire through mass media of communication, related to changes in the socialization processes, that have modified the form and contents of learning. For example, the street, broadly speaking, can be considered as a means that opens spaces and puts infancy in early contact with diverse realities, situations, events, and contents that not necessarily appear in the close family environment. Then, the types of contents boys and girls face today have changed.

Towards a formation of first-infancy educators committed to childhood and infancy rights

Reveco (2012) believes that it is necessary to achieve a formation for first-infancy educators to create values and attitudes and promoting an integral perspective of boys and girls, to ensure their conception as subjects of rights. This poses many challenges, as Liebel affirms:

[…] not only it is necessary to identify children as subjects of rights, but at the same time and in concrete ways, we should consider boys and girls as social subjects, whose rights must have meaning and be relevant for them in their daily lives. (LIEBEL, 2015, p. 45).

Although the grounds of Liebel’s reflection are pertinent, the exercise of adults’ rights towards infancy seems even more important, as the adults are those who may generate spaces for participation of infancy, and not the boys and girls.

This issue arises because, as we said above, the notion of rights is an abstract discourse that does not include actions to advance its realization. In an interview by Martínez Nuñez and Muñoz Zamora, the concept of right was detected as “[…] an absolute idea that closes in itself, because no specific actions or strategies emerge from it that may indicate a road to its realization” (2015, p.9). This idea is put to practice in instances and elections of minor importance within the classroom, with condescending attitudes on the part of the adults. Although girls and boys are said to be subjects of rights, there is still a lack of a clear definition of its meaning and every educator puts it into practice from their experience and value system.

This is confirmed in a research (2016-2017) carried out in the Departamento de Educación Básica y Educación Parvularia at the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación. The research focused on childhood imaginaries and aimed at detecting the meaning students appoint to pedagogical action for the first-infancy in various dimensions of their practice. Programs of practicum were also analyzed, and interviews and a 10-student focus group were conducted. The research confirmed that the rights issue is not connected to any specific learning unit, nor any specific didactics was applied. A student reported that “[…] the first person who talked about children as subjects of rights did it in a very stereotyped class, but I didn’t have any conscience of it, […] Of course they are subjects of rights” (Interview S1 E3, of Aug, 05th, 2016). On the one side, the student does not know, nor has she learned before about the term enunciated by the teacher, and, on the other side, the teacher mentions it as content that will not be deepened later. Here we see how the scenification of the problem is produced, but there is no filling in the gap between what may be the experience of a young person and what the theory says about rights. This is an example of the abstract approach to rights, one that does not help the students to find the elements of conviction permitting the exercise of actions towards a safeguarding of said elements. Precisely, this aspect has incidence in its low presence in the ethical education of first-infancy educators.

This is the reason why there is a need to generate a dialogue and reflection process by academic units to make students get involved in and be committed to educational values and aspirations(FULLAN; HARGREAVES, 2000). We believe in the need of an ethical formation to give meaning to vocational sensibility, in the practice of the children formation work byusing specific contents. There should be a consistent critical reflection also, including elements such as autobiographical narratives and value system of the students. Thus, the elements approached in the formation will be consistent with an ethical content process for the profession and infancy. This issue emerges again in the students’ reflection:

Our program has a clear concept of infancy, but it does not manifests itself, it`s things you hear, I don´t know, the child is subject of rights and many more things…I feel that, in the end, these are words that they put on your lips or words that teachers say, but there is a great difference with what it really means”. (Interview S10 E2, of Aug. 11th, 2016).

In the university context, it is difficult to accept universal norms and give an absolute value to them. The young Pedagogy students, or girls and boys, or their parents, are not in line in their conception of a single normative system. Then, it is necessary to move forward towards commitment within the moral sphere to understand the ethical dimension connected to the emotional aspect. This requires specific strategies and great creativity to successfully create a dialog with the complex systems of contemporary values. As in Cullen (2011), it is necessary to generate a commitment with universal norms and values in the students, the care for a good life, happiness for everyone, and respect for our differences. The proposal itself, however, signals to its difficulty, because, if we accept our differences, we will have a myriad of ways to be happy or to conceive a good life, and this may make the effective, concrete application of those rights extremely difficult.

On the contrary, it is expected that the formation of young education professionals will include the principles that ethically guide the pedagogical practices, as stated in the Principle Nº 3 of the Rights of the Child, for the Superior Interest of the Child (UNICEF, art. 3, 2006). Rights are a juridical instrument and it is expected that the State and its institutions will protect this principle and evaluate the impact of State policy concerning those institutions. Then, this a guarantist principle that will not accommodate paternalistic or authoritarian interpretations.

Legal aspects, however, are not always acknowledged in the daily life of people who are involved in intersubjective relationships or depend on many other factors. A first disruption is observed here in the understanding of rights and the interpretation that first-infancy education students make of them. The rights of the child require a formation that promotes analysis and reflection on the daily practices of educators with boys and girls, as co-responsible guarantors of said rights.

We would like to analyze here the right to participation, understood as a part of a progressive process towards autonomy (NUNES DE ALMEIDA, 2009). In educational communities, this principle can be the object of multiple interpretations, ranging from those who try to put it into practice creating direct participation situations for boys and girls, to those who understand that participation means transparence in decision making. That is, here we find again the existence of multiple approaches for application and for taking part in the environments of participation. However, apart from the modes of participation, we believe that the most important issue lies in the conditions required for a community to admit listening to difference, to diverse and sometimes discordant voices. Thus, the community will separate itself from the adult-centered tradition and, in general, from the fear the educational communities usually feel when dealing with dissent (MENA; VIZCARRA, 2005).

Admittedly, this requires a group of people that may exert rights mechanisms, and their implementation in the classroom may mean that educators would have to see themselves as guarantor actors. This implies making decisions with participation of boys and girls, evaluating the impact that those measures have on the childhood community, in order to ensure that they are integrated to childhood interests and that their wellbeing is considered. This imperative requires considering boys and girls when reflecting on pedagogical processes to be implemented, observing decisions to be taken in the curriculum areas, pedagogical environments and the organization of resources. When possible, however, the first thing to be prioritized is the relation of the encounter of adults with boys and girls. Priority is most important there, because that is the instance where the main problems of interpretation appear, as the imaginaries about childhood maintained among the community members are in action.

Nowadays, there is no debate about the need of explicit commitment to childhood in the formation institutions, to their conditions and to the various sociocultural phenomena they will face in a contemporary context. There are, however, many ways to introduce this commitment. Because of an interest in not acting from prejudice, there is a tendency to make the differences of life experiences and social experiences of boys and girls invisible. Articulating specific differences with equality of rights is then extremely important for the recognition of situations experienced by children within dissimilar cultural systems, and for the creation of conditions for improving learning strategies consistent with the universal rights. These rights need to continue to be the framework or background for the various ways of practicing diversity, respect of differences, and for strategies appropriate for educational activities. Thus, if there is the will to move forward in quality at the universities teaching the pedagogical programs, analysis and reflection are required and they need to transcend the classroom walls of today.

Indeed, one of the more disseminated aspirations concerns the capacity of teachers to go beyond activities that imply administration of knowledge in the classroom. In Chile, we may highlight the inclusion of boys and girls of different nationalities, the creation of friendly environments, the integration of contexts, the problematization of intercultural convivence, etc. The changing of pedagogical practices has become a central issue linked to the need of preparing reflective professionals. As in Donoso (2005), this requires specific strategies to relocate reflection as a key process in the teaching activity.

In the area of competences of boys and girls and the overexposure of their protection rights vs. participation rights, there is a tension between protected participation and participative protection. One of the current challenges is studying the cultural and social realities of boys and girls, incorporating subjective elements that could be articulating the childhood relationship with the adult world. This should include aspects such as values, purposes and practices, and the personal, institutional and normative contexts that are not only affecting boys and girls, but also influencing the relationship they establish with adults. This is central from an ethical point of view, as principles should be articulated in a dialog with the views and contexts where infancy is experienced. Boys and girls have competences and behaviors that may be defined as political, but these are hidden behind the formal interplay of mechanisms and structures of conventional partitions. If we accept this idea, it seems reasonable to think of the need to incorporate an ethical and political syllabus in the educators’ curricula, a training centered around childhood rights and citizenship practices. It is also necessary to discuss the political socialization of girls and boys, subordinating the political concept to the development of pedagogical knowledge.

Unfortunately, the gap between simplistic teaching of Rights of Boys and Girls, as a tediously repetitive list learn by heart, and the reality the future educators will face during the pedagogical processes continues to be very significant. The students recognize the existence of times and circumstances when a contact is successfully achieved favoring a respectful and fruitful communication with boys and girls. They also mention, however, the need to maintain control over the group, as they are sometimes evaluated on this ground. Actions result from these requirements, such as separating a restless child from the group, the permanent call for silence, and the growing stress in a teacher that finally decides to give prominence to asserting his or her authority. In these circumstances, students require reflective skepticism to avoid rigid responses to classroom problems.

The problem observed in implementing the rights in the educational environment adds tension to the judicial dimension related to the behavior of people. Consequently, the concretization of rights requires stronger political will and active creativity to discover mechanisms that, without impositions, may open opportunities for shared understanding to ensure childhood wellbeing. Teacher’s compliance with administration requirements —or what is usually termed as “classroom management”—, supposedly assisting in improving the process conditions, as is the case of lesson plans, eventually becomes an obstacle at the time of stablishing relationships in which rights of boys and girls prevail over administrative considerations. Thus, teachers appear as living in aterritory of conflictamid different priority lines of pedagogical action. These conditions, far from favoring commitment to the rights of boys and girls, add problems that surround teacher’s performance. Certainly, there is not only one answer to this, and the challenge is to put transformation processes into action to incorporate perspectives that are present in the educational community, but commitment to rights should be an unavoidable portion of them. Then, it is necessary to give a new life to rights from a new perspective, in which judicial aspects become guidelines of action and a dynamic commitment to infancy.

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Received: October 23, 2017; Accepted: April 24, 2018; Accepted: June 26, 2018

María Delia Martínez Núñez: PhD in Latin-American Cultural Studies, Masterin Latin-American Cultural Studies. She has a Degree in Esthetics and in Primary School Education. She is a professor in the First-Infancy Education Department at the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación in Santiago, Chile. She is a researcher for the Project FIE19-14.

Graciela Muñoz-Zamora: PhD in Education, Master in Social Sciences in the area of Community Development. She has a Degree in First-Infancy Education. She is a professor in the First-Infancy Department at the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación in Santiago, Chile. She is a researcher for the Project FIE 1914.

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