Putting Sylvia in her place: Ashton-Warner as New Zealand educational theorist
Middleton, S. (2009). Putting Sylvia in her place: Ashton-Warner as New Zealand educational theorist. Paper presented at the European Conference for Education Research, University of Vienna, September 28-30 2009.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/3660
Sylvia Ashton-Warner, a New Zealand teacher, won international acclaim in the 1950s-1950s with her novels, autobiographies, and accounts of her educational theory. Blurring genres between fiction and autobiography, much of her writing was centred on the ‘creative teaching scheme’ she developed in Maori Schools. At the heart of the scheme was the idea that literacy was best achieved when children captioned their experiences of fear and sex, the two great (Freudian) drives. In Sylvia’s infant room, these erupted to the surface by means of captions (a child’s ‘key vocabulary’). I introduce Lefebvre’s idea of ‘rhythm analysis’, applying it first to the teaching scheme, then to the ‘system’ in which Ashton-Warner taught. With reference to extracts from Ashton-Warner’s Creative Teaching Scheme and Myself, I connect the rhythms of her life with her ‘theory.’ I identify Sylvia’s own ‘key words’ (violence and war; ghosts; sex and the kiss) and their rhythmic engagements and collisions with educational ‘authorities.’
This article has been presented at the European Conference for Education Research, University of Vienna, September 28-30 2009.
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