Beyond Pathologizing Education: Advancing a Cultural Historical Methodology for the Re-positioning of Children as Successful Learners

Marilyn Fleer, Fernando González Rey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


The field of early years education has in recent times received increasing policy and research attention due in part to the growing evidence that investing early in education increases the lifelong chances of children. Emerging from this focus on early education has also been a multidisciplinary approach (e.g. educators, speech therapists, psychologists, social workers) for supporting children and families.Unfortunately, in some situations this has meant that particular theoretical models for interpreting children’s behaviours at school have pathologised their everyday interactions.In this chapter we report on two case examples, where a medical model is used to explain children’s behaviours, resulting in a deficit view of the children. In contrast,we argue for a holistic conception of the child in the context of family and community for interpreting children’s behaviours in school. In drawing upon the concept of perezhivanie, communication, spaces of socialisation, emotions, and forms of subjectivation,we show how an alternative reading of the children in the case studies can be made when different theoretical and research lenses are used. We argue for the need to move away from a traditional medical model for explaining school behaviours where education becomes pathologised and children are othered, and suggest that a cultural–historical methodology allows for the reinterpretation of children who are positioned in deficit as successful learners.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerezhivanie, Emotions and Subjectivity
Subtitle of host publicationAdvancing Vygotsky’s Legacy
EditorsMarilyn Fleer, Fernando González Rey, Nikolai Veresov
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9789811045349
ISBN (Print)9789811045325
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Cultural-Historical Research

Cite this