Balancing roles of engagement during joint activity
More about "Reciprocity" ...
- When we do things together with children, whether it is to play, to talk, to learn, or to teach, we can take on different roles as the adult in the interaction. In the best case, nobody is dominant or dominated. We exchange our roles and form a partnership, like a little child tossing a baseball back and forth with an older brother (I throw, you catch; you throw, it falls short, I try to catch and return anyway). In everyday contexts, it might take the form of an adult really listening to a child (and vice versa), or a teacher who is just as interested in what the child has to say, as she is in the lesson plans she has already made.
- In the "X" of this dimension, children are disengaged or resistant to the direction of the adult. In some cases, this results in the adult leading the activity, and the child(ren) doing something completely different from what is being communicated by the adult.
- In the "Y" of this dimension, children may simply choose to comply with adult direction and instruction, maybe because they like the adult or because they are afraid of the adult. Compliance, in this sense, can be passive or active. For example, a child responding to direct instruction and answering the questions of the adult can be active compliance, but there is not sharing of the control of the activity. To move to a level of "Z", the interaction need to incorporate a sense of sharing of the control.
- The focal point here is “role." Who is in control? Who is the driver? Every conversation goes back and forth, but just because there is a conversation does not make it a "serve and return." A "Z" requires that "serving" (or control/driving) is coming from both sides. This dimension is fundamentally different from the traditional "child-directed" vs "adult-directed" dichotomy. This dimension assumes that the ideal state is a balanced, reciprocal partnership between adult and child.