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What is on our children's minds? An analysis of children's writings as reflections of group-specific socialisation practices

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In the present study it has been examined how children's creative writing tasks may contribute to teachers' understanding of children's values. Writings of 300 elementary school children about what they would do if they were the boss of The Netherlands were obtained and seemed to reflect different types of values. Most children were concerned with charity. Also, writings concerned materialist values and socio-political topics, such as human rights, power and tolerance. Analyses of group-specific differences showed girls to write more about charity and health when compared to boys. Children from low socio-economic backgrounds wrote less about environmental issues compared to children from middle and high socio-economic backgrounds. Children from ethnic minority backgrounds who wrote more about obtaining goods for themselves and less about environmental issues than Dutch-origin children. In addition, age differences were found in line with an increase in social and moral development. These differences are discussed in light of differential socialisation practices.

Keywords: creative writing; moral education; socialisation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands 2: Department of Educational Science, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 3: Eindhoven School of Education, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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