Exploring (dis)abled children's embodied experiences in primary school space

TERRELL, Katharine Elizabeth (2023). Exploring (dis)abled children's embodied experiences in primary school space. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00514


This thesis explores how (dis)abled children in one inner-city English primary school experience classroom space in an embodied way. It takes Disabled Children’s Childhood Students (DCCS) as a starting point and applies Deleuzoguattarian ideas such as the assemblage and becoming, to contribute new knowledge to how classroom space disables and enables. The study took place over a seven-month period and involved 47 children who, in a novel approach, took part regardless of a label of special educational needs (SEN), disability or impairment. The children shared their experiences through various creative and visual qualitative methods, including photography, drawings and model rooms. These, combined with observations of the whole classroom space, were analysed thematically, paying attention to lines of flight, leading to various significant findings. Firstly, I found that the classroom space was saturated by the idea of vertical development: a normative expectation that children grow physically and metaphorically upwards towards adulthood. However, I also observed resistance from children to this idea. One original contribution to knowledge that this study makes is seeing photography as both a creative method and a form of resistance, as children who took part could turn the lens back on adults. Further insights included how certain forms of embodiment in the classroom are encouraged while others are discouraged. These are linked to ideas of crip epistemic insight: a perspective that privileges the experiences of disabled people’s embodied experiences of the world. Finally, I discuss the resistance and joyful potential in “leaks” which challenge the boundaries imposed on children’s bodies. Specifically, I contribute to the small but growing field of toilet studies in discussing expected behaviour in and around toilets. The thesis takes ideas from DCCS and assemblage theory and applies them in new ways to (dis)abled children’s embodied experiences, making valuable methodological and theoretical contributions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Slater, Jen [0000-0001-6739-7784]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Jen Slater
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00514
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2023 15:51
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 14:31
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/31969

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