Original Research

Finding myself by involving children in self-study research methodology: A gentle reminder to live freely

Ntokozo S. Mkhize-Mthembu
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 12, No 1 | a1043 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v12i1.1043 | © 2022 Ntokozo S. Mkhize-Mthembu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2021 | Published: 29 March 2022

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Ntokozo S. Mkhize-Mthembu, Department of Higher Education, Faculty of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pinetown, South Africa

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Background: This article describes my exploration of social and emotional learning as a primary school teacher in a Grade 4 classroom.

Aim: This article aimed to illuminate how I improved my teaching practice through valuing and listening to children’s voices.

Setting: I am a teacher at a primary school in the Umlazi education district, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. As a PhD candidate, I explored social and emotional learning in a Grade 4 classroom from a scholarly perspective.

Method: I present a detailed description of the methodological interactions and the theoretical underpinning that guided my interactions with the Grade 4 study participants. I documented the lessons, which were audio-recorded and photographed, in my teaching development portfolio. By employing self-study research and adopting a sociocultural theoretical perspective, I explored the principles of social justice. The importance of working collaboratively with children in a primary school educational setting to make sense of both the teacher’s and the learners’ collective and individual experiences is emphasised. The methodology included working with critical friends to help me uncover different ways of making sense of my research and to enhance my own learning about teaching.

Results: The findings affirm that young children’s voices need to be foregrounded to enhance teaching and learning practices. Children’s dignity and perspectives need to be acknowledged as they are the key contributors to and recipients of educational processes.

Conclusion: The study affirms the importance of crediting young learners’ diverse perspectives and lived experiences in classroom interactions and asserts that this obligates teachers to listen to children emotively and consciously.


children’s voices; collaborative learning; emotions; self-study research; social and emotional learning; social justice


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