Hierarchical Structures and Group Dynamics in Early Elementary Education
Inspired by Chavajay’s (2006) previous research investigating whether relationships between adults and children can differ based on culture and schooling, researchers looked at elementary school settings. In Chavajay’s (2006) study of Mayan mothers and children, the amount of Western-style schooling mothers completed guided their problem-solving methods with their children. At the Community School of Davidson, a school in the United States, researchers observed numerous typically Western hierarchical structures in early elementary classrooms. Teachers in these elementary classrooms showed some egalitarian methods typical of non-schooled adults despite their personal past education with Western influences. Three different teachers and their assistants in three different grade levels, first, second, and third, were observed. In order to optimize learning, teachers shifted between egalitarian and hierarchical approaches depending on the desired learning outcome. Teachers utilized pairs and groups of children to accomplish their learning tasks such as math problems or story writing. Here researchers will analyze techniques teachers used in these three settings in conjunction with literature and data on studies in educational psychology. Interactions between children and teachers observed at the Community School of Davidson are investigated to determine their effectiveness in early elementary classrooms. Suggestions for optimal interactions include and expand upon observations.