You fail. What do you do?

It is morning in the kindergarten. The children are gathered together for the morning meeting, they have checked the calendar, they have talked about events of the day and the weather. After the meeting children take their place at the tables and get their pencils, erasers and workbooks. This time every child gets the same task, they should complete the pictures on pages 36-37. This is done by drawing a line from one numbered dot to another so that the line forms a picture. The children are all different and of varying ages. When the task is the same for all, but where children’s skills and orientation vary, children’s success and failure can be seen. Some children complete the task quickly and easily. They know numbers and draw confident lines from dot to dot. Some children complete the task fumbling. The next number is not easy to find and the line is insecure. Some children can complete the task only with the help of an adult. Some children can not complete their task at all. Their picture remains unfinished or is made wrong. One child is not oriented towards the workbook at all but is concentrating on her toys. So, some children succeed in their task and some children fail. What does this failure mean to the children? What does it mean for the teachers? How is this event, a failure, moulding the educational practices and the children’s and teachers’ lives?


There are many ways to grasp the meaning of children’s failure-situations. One way is to consider the failure as constructed. Then you must evaluate the situation’s effects on the child as the situation itself does not change. The other way is to see the failure as something that can  possibly be changed. Then the child can be the agent of change in the failure-situation. The purpose of this article is to move the perspective of failure, that is, from something you have to accommodate yourself to, into something that you can change. This happens not only by completing the task but by reforming the criterions of failure and the conditions of the situation.

The child doesn’t change the failure criterion

One way to get a hold of children’s way of perceiving failure is to look at children’s causal attributions, which relate to the perceived reasons of success or failure (see Weiner 1986). Failure itself isn’t being questioned. When you know what the child sees as the reason for failure, you can make assumptions about the child’s actions and success. In this way you can examine the development of children’s actions and attitudes towards failure. In this aspect, however, you can’t observe children’s actions on changing the conditions of the failure-situation.


Molden & Dweck (2000, 132-133) introduce goal theory as a tool to view the causal attributions. In goal theory children’s success/failure problems are seen through performance and learning goals. If the child’s goal in his/her pursuit to accomplish a task is mainly to manifest his/her competence (or avoid a demonstration of incompetence), the child’s goal is the performance goal. When the child orientates himself/herself to a performance goal, failure is a threat to the child’s conception of his/her own ability and it can lead to helplessness. Failure is followed by a negative attitude, ineffective strategies and the reduction in performance. But if the child’s goal is to develop or get a new skill like drawing the requested picture, the child’s goal is a learning goal. It is more important to learn to draw than to succeed in drawing. Learning goals relate to attempts, maintaining a positive attitude, effective strategies and increasing effort. The goal theory takes the criterions of failure for granted. The child’s possible change of the failure situation and its criterions are not considered.


Jacobs & Eccles (2000) describe the development of children’s comprehension of achievement values. How important the drawing of the picture (and success in doing it) is to the child, is connected to how much the child appreciates the task and how he/she feels about it. Young children’s comprehension about accomplishing a picture is not very differentiated. During the early elementary school grades, the subjective value of completing a picture may be primarily characterised by children’s interest in the task. During the early and middle elementary school grades, children’s sense of usefulness of different activities, especially for future goals, may not be very clear. A child’s assessment of action is influenced by the child’s social identity and the fusion of competence and interests. (Jacobs & Eccles 2000.) In their perspective Jacobs & Eccles also see the interaction as a way to change the child, not the child as changing the criterions of the failure.


When the circumstances are seen as given, we can view the interaction in a given framework. Jacobs & Eccles recommend Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, which is defined by Vygotsky (1978, 84-91) as the range of tasks that the child can not yet handle alone but can do with the help of a more skilled partner. The trick for any parent, coach, or teacher is then to be able to provide the activity within the child’s zone of proximal development. The child is involved in an activity that is in the upper limit of his/her abilities. The involved child is using his/her abilities fully and is strongly motivated (see Laevers 1995). Adults offer enough support for a child to accomplish a task but an effective scaffold is constantly being readjusted to fit the child’s level of performance. If more assistance is needed, it is provided, but as the child exhibits independent mastery, the adult will withdraw support and let the child succeed alone. Vygotsky saw the parents’ role as both pushing and pulling development by adjusting communications and support to fit the child’s understanding and ability to master a task. (Jacobs & Eccles 2000.) Still the development of the child is the key issue, not the child as changing the criterions of the situation.


But the tough, action-oriented, internally motivated child does not get stuck with an insignificant detail as an externally given criteria of success or failure. We have come to a border, where the permanent limits of success and failure are not valid anymore. From now on we concentrate on a situation, where in which the child takes part in moulding the failure-situation and its criterions. In this perspective we can not look at the child’s success/failure only in relation to the adults’ criterions. In this view both the adult and child are possible agents of criterion change. We move over from permanent success/failure criterions to criterions that can only be defined in the course of the process.

The child changes the failure criterions

Vygotsky’s idea of the “zone of proximal development” includes the idea of intersubjectivity. It’s the process  of  people who begin a task with different conceptualisations and coming to a shared understanding of the task as each person adjusts to the perspective of the other. Vygotsky’s ”Mind in society”  (1978) ends with words from Friedrich Engels: “The great basic idea that the world is not to be viewed as a complex of fully fashioned objects, no less than the images of them inside our heads (our concepts), are undergoing incessant changes – –”. In the failure situation this means, that success and failure are not permanent objects or concepts. Before the process the child and adult can have different views of the failure criterions in that particular situation. In the course of the process, the child and adult can influence each other. Finally, the child and adult can change each other’s views about what is success or failure in that situation.


The child can think that success means that the drawing is correct. Or success can mean an adult’s positive feedback. Or it can mean avoiding negative feedback. The child can interpret failure as a sign to stop working on the task or it can mean a sign to increase effort to finish the task. Failure in an educational setting can mean a child’s feeling that an adult does not give him/her enough attention. The child may feel that it is not so important to succeed in the drawing task but more important is the feeling that he/she is appreciated in whatever he/she does. The child can interpret the situation as a struggle for social control, in which case success means that the child can control the events of the drawing situation. The child can feel that he/she is being successful if he/she can manipulate others away from the drawing. The child’s definition of the situation may not have anything to do with drawing. The child may want to challenge the teacher’s power or process his/her own bad feelings in such a way, that the general chaos that the child is accumulating in the drawing situation is a sign of successful action. The child’s views of the drawing situation have an effect on the teacher’s criterions of successful action. If the child’s criterion of a successful action is chaos, the teacher’s view of the situation and it’s criterions change. The teacher’s view of reality changes.


Moll (1990) summarises Vygotsky’s view, “The power of Vygotsky’s ideas is that they represent a theory of possibilities. The construct of the zone of proximal development reminds us that there is nothing ’natural’ about educational settings - -. These settings are social creations; they are socially constituted, and they can be socially changed. It warns us how easy it is to underestimate children’s and teachers’ abilities when we analyse them in isolation, in highly constrained environments, or in less than favourable circumstances. And it points to the use of social and cultural resources that represent our primary tools, as human beings, for mediating and promoting change.” (Moll 1990, 15.)  A radical interpretation of the zone of proximal development means that the process does not only change the child’s and teacher’s different views of objects. In the course of the process both the child’s and adult’s actions are changed too. The interaction between child and adult changes because of their changed views. Child and adult view the world differently and interact differently. The child’s views about things and their favourable change alter not only teachers’ views but also actions too. In this manner not only the child’s concepts of success/failure change, but with his/her concepts about probable or favourable changes, the child changes the world. Thus, the child’s view of the drawing situation’s definition and course effects the development of events and what the criterion for failure in that situation is. When every child’s different views about the situation creates a different development of the situation, each child encounters de facto a different situation. Children can learn those things that they themselves encounter and change. In the drawing situation children find different things and in this way affect different things. Some children find drawing, some find a battlefield. When children change their findings in their own ways it leads them to unique personal situations. Children do not just interpret the drawing situation differently, they change the situation according to their own situation. This way children encounter not just different interpretations of reality, but something concrete, they can be part of and take part in the changing process. The drawing situation reveals itself as a  label under which abounds diverse and changing interaction. The direction of this process is partly unpredictable.

Research problem

The purpose of this study is to find a way to see and examine children not just doing different interpretations or learning differently, but also as creators of new aspects of reality. The focus is moved from a child that is succeeding/failing in a situation, to a child that is moulding the whole situation and its criterions of success and failure. In this way maybe our insight gets sharper and we can see behind the label of failure. We may learn to see the child as a participant in the process of change in his/her own course of development. When we can see both sides of the interaction, we are better prepared to take part in that change now and in the future. The research problem is: How do the children’s views about their actions in a failure situation manifest themselves in their actions and thus in the everyday kindergarten life?

Research methods

For this research 73 children, aged 3-7 years, from four randomly selected kindergartens in Helsinki, were interviewed. The children were asked fifteen different questions. One of the questions was “You fail, what do you do?” The answers were grouped in two categories: 1) the child does not change the criterion of failure in the given context, or 2) the child changes the criterion (you fail). The purpose of the research has been to find connections between the child’s way of perceiving situations and acting in kindergarten. Children’s actions were observed in a normal kindergarten environment. The systematic sampling was used and the children were observed in two-minute intervals each a total of 1678 times. The observation took place always between 8 am and 12 pm. The third way of getting information was teachers’ and parents’ evaluations  of children’s actions: did the children change themselves in the changing situation or did they change their situations. The evaluation was done with a questionnaire in which the child’s relation to the changing situation was evaluated from one to five on the likert scale.


In this article, for illustrative purposes, only one of the fifteen situations is handled: the failing situation. The main statistical method used is the Mann-Whitney test, where the children who are categorised as themselves changing their own actions in the failure are compared to the group in which the children change the given criterion. To complete the Mann-Whitney test, averages, chi-square tests and partial correlations are used. In order to evaluate several statistically significant variables at once, the discriminant analysis is used.

Children’s descriptions of strategies in failure situations

The children were asked “You fail, what do you do?” The children’s answers were categorised in two ways according to whether the child sees himself/herself changing the criterions of failure or not. In the first class of these categories are descriptions in which child gives a description of a strategy, in which the child does not change the given criterion ”you fail”, but changes his/her own behaviour or draws back from the situation. The given criterion “you fail” sustains. In the other class are descriptions in where the child describes a strategy that changes the given criterion “you fail”. The child describes a strategy that has an impact on the given fact that she or he fails. The failure is not established or the failure criterions are redefined. In the first table are some examples of the children’s answers and their classifications.


Table 1 Children’s descriptions of adaptive and situation changing strategies of failure

The child’s own actions change

The child changes the situation

  • I start to cry
  • No. I would break my work.
  • I’d go away.
  • I’ll stop it, put it in the drawer.
  • I’ll throw it in the waste-basket.
  • I’ll get food, I listen to music.
  • I take another work. I go playing.
  • I’ll tell the teacher that we’ll do it together.
  • I’ll carve with my own knife and make a new one.
  • I could start anew.
  • I’ll take another paper and do it there.
  • Then I’ll fix it.
  • I’ll erase it and draw it again of course.
  • If somebody teases me work fails. I start anew.

  The percent of the answers that were categorised as changing the criterion of the situation was 56 percent. The average of all the given fifteen situations was 44 percent. The other given situations included situations like “Somebody teases you, what do you do?” and ”Your friend won’t play with you, what do you do?” So the failure situation produced a greater number of criterion changing answers than on average. When we look at all of the fifteen situations, thirteen percent of the children’s answers could not be classified. In the failure-situation the percentage was eighteen, which is a little bit more than usual. In the unclassifiable answers the child repeatedly declares that he/she does not know what to do in the failure situation. Someone reports that she failed in Jamie’s birthday party, but she does not tell what she did. Two children gave no answer at all. One child said that failure irritates him but he did not describe his actions, even after at tempting to do so.

How the child’s  criterion-changing answer relates to his/her kindergarten action and adults’ evaluations?

What does a criterion-changing child do in kindergarten? How does the child’s view of seeing failure as something changeable manifest itself in his/her actions? With the Mann-Whitney test the differences between the two groups, that is, the criterion changing and children who change their own actions, were statistically evaluated. Because there are several statistical differences, the probability that one difference occurs by chance is rather big, so the probabilities describe more the amount of difference than exact probabilities. On the other hand, the possibility that several of the found differences were not real is small. So the whole picture, if the results support each other, is hardly founded on a statistical chance. So what is lost in the reliability of one difference, is gained in the whole picture. Next, all the found statistically significant (p<.05) differences are introduced and discussed. In this way it is not so easy for the researcher to pick up only those results that fit his own point of view. Of course the interpretation is still influenced by the researcher. In the coding process the children’s answers (n=66) were mixed randomly so the answers and children could not be connected in the process of categorising. In this way it was possible to make sure that coding was done only because of the contents of the answer, not the coders impression of the child or his/her usual style of answering.


The most significant difference between the two groups was the amount of all the criterion changing answers (p=.000). In other words the children that described the failure situation as changeable described more of the other situations also as changeable. Those children who saw the failure-situation as not changeable gave, on average, only 4.7 changeable answers out of 15 possible. Those children who saw situations as changeable gave, on average, 8.2 answers that were categorised as changeable, which is more than half of the answers. It seems that  children’s description of failure-situations as changeable can be generalised as children’s inclination to describe different situations as changeable.


The child’s inclination to describe situations as changeable exists also among their nearest contacts. When the children were observed at two-minute intervals, one of the aspects of observation was the child’s nearest social contact that could be found in the moment of observation, if there was a child that could be defined as one. After the observation each child’s nearest contacts’ variable averages were counted. In this way the profile of the child’s typical nearest contact could be calculated. All in all the nearest child contact could be defined in fifty percent of the 1678 cases. The undefined cases were usually doing something alone or with an adult or an action in a such group that no nearest contact could be defined. The not-changing children’s nearest contacts gave, on average, 6.2 changing answers. The changing children’s nearest contacts gave, on average, 7.7 changing answers. According to the Mann-Whitney test the statistical significance of the difference was 0.01. This means that children that view situations similarly are found in each others’ company. In the kindergarten, a similar view of the world means a more similar physical and social environment. Similar situations and similar views of the situations are inseparable. One can not tell which is dependent on the other. But it is possible that children who view situations as changeable act accordingly. They make up a “dynamic duo”. When the children find situations as changeable they act with those aspects of the situations. They seek and find strategies that are not just given to them but can be changed. So to see failure-situation as changeable is related to the child’s orientation in the kindergarten. The child seeks changeable contacts. This affects the moulding of the situations. (In nine of the fifteen situations that were presented to the children there was a similar tendency. They are not dealt with here, however.)


Those answers that could not be classified as not-changing/changing answers, were classified in their own group. Mostly, the reason was an indistinct answer, the answer didn’t relate to the question or refusal to answer. In the failure-situation, according to Mann-Whitney, test the not-changing child and the situation-changing child showed a difference in their unclassified answers and the significance of the difference is .017. Children that answered adaptively in the failure-situation gave, on average, 2.8 unclassified answers when a moulding answer in the failure-situation resulted in only 0.8 unclassified answers. The answer was mostly “I don’t know”. This result indicates that children who see the failure situation as changeable are more confident in their answers and less dubious. They have at least one strategy in all kinds of situations. When a child sees that he/she has a possibility to effect the situation the situation looks like a pool of possibilities. This can be a self-predicting feedback loop. When a child gets a grip on the situation and gets to mould the flow of acting, the readiness for ongoing assessment and adjustment develops further. The child learns how to sustain him/herself as an agent of the changing processes. That is to say, children can recognize how to be not just a part of change but how to be an agent of change. In a changing world this result has a profound meaning. In rapid change new things just do not exist yet. So if you want to learn something new, you have to learn how to be a part of that change.


When the children were observed, one of the observed variables was the type of the action that the child was doing during the observation. The action was in the preparational study classified in eleven predefined classes like: action according to the group; orientation; object play; role play; rule play; work etc. When there was an action that did not fit in to any of the eleven classes, the child’s action was classified as ”other action”. According to the Mann-Whitney test the children who saw the failure-situation as changeable and the children whose answer was classified as not-changing were different in how much their near contacts’ actions were classified as ”other action” (p=.032). Not-changing children’s near contacts did something out of the classification, on average, 1.2 percent of their time while the changing children’s near contacts average was 2.9 percent. This means that the children who saw change were found more often near those children that did something that didn’t fit the existing classification. This indicates not only an inappropriate classification but also a phenomenon in which were the change-oriented children are found in an environment where something is going on that is not predefined. Something that is not existing but just evolving or new. In a moulding, new, and not predefined situation, a child’s method for seeking the possibilities of change is an advantage.


The kindergarten teachers evaluated children’s social skills on a likert scale from one to six. The scale was defined: ”The child is socially skilled. Different situations, interests or atmospheres do not hinder him/her”. In the failure-situation children who answered in a not-changing manner differed from those children answering in a changing manner in teachers’ evaluations (p=.049). The teachers average evaluation of the first group of children was 3.0 (the description does not fit the child well). The teachers average evaluation of the second group of children was 3.7 (the description fits the child quite well). This means that the children’s way of perceiving situations was connected to the children’s real actions in the kindergarten. It should be mentioned that the interviewer and coder was a different person than the evaluator of the child’s actions. The interviewer did not know of the teachers’ evaluations and the teachers did not know about the children’s answers. So the teachers’ evaluations and the evaluation of the interviews are independent. The same applies to the observations and the interview, because the answers were coded randomly, and the coder did not know whose answer it was. Other intentional or unintentional personal factors do not affect the evaluations. This from three independent appraisals clustering around a similar tendency is a strong indicator that the child’s way to see the failure situation as changeable is related to changeable action in real situations. The child’s view of how reality is moulded affects that reality.

The role of the intermediating variables

The children who answered not-changeably were an average of five-years-and-two-months old. The children who gave changing answers were an average five-years-and-nine-months old. According to the Mann-Whitney test the significance of the difference is .045. This result brings to the fore the role of the background variables and intermediate variables. Is the orientation to change basically related to the child’s age, which only has different manifestations as the child grows older? Similarly the child that saw the failure-situation as not-changeable had a near contact that was on average five-years-two-months old when the change-oriented child’s near contact was, on average, five-years-nine-months old. According to the Mann-Whitney test the significance of difference is .014. Children with the same age get together. Maybe the results do not necessarily indicate the children’s different orientations in reality but do indicate, rather, their gradually developing way of grasping things. Maybe we should, after all, look at the child’s changing nature of their perception, rather than the child’s perception as changing the environment? If a child’s perception does not change reality, then the phenomenon should not be investigated and is of no relevance.


The importance of the background variables must be checked. In this effort the partial correlations are used. The partial correlations procedure computes partial correlation coefficients that describe the linear relationship between two variables while controlling for the effects of one or more additional variables. The child’s perception of the failure-situation and the other variables coefficients were analysed with SPSS. The controlled variables were the children’s age, sex and kindergarten group. In practice this means that from the coefficient of the variables, for example, the impact of the children’s age is removed. In a similar way the effect of the child’s sex in the other variables can be controlled. For the variable kindergarten there were values one, two, three and four, which are basically qualitative values because they are symbols of different kindergartens. But you can think of them also as indicating the order of the measuring of the children. This is because the kindergartens were numbered in research order. In the course of the research the criterions of the observations can change, but this tendency can be controlled.


Found partial correlations, of which the impact of children’s age, sex, and kindergarten, give after all a very similar picture of the results than the ones found with the Mann-Whitney test. In the following table are the found partial correlations. The larger correlations are first.

Table 2 The meaningful correlations between the variable ”seeing failure-situation as changeable” and other variables, when the variables of age, sex and kindergarten are controlled.



The total amount of the changing answers

 .558, p=.000

Parents: ”My child prefers familiar and safe circumstances and activities”

-.3007, p=.032

The total amount of the child’s nearest contact’s changing answers

 .3004, p=.023

The observed high amount of the child changing his/her own situation

-.2948, p=.025

The teachers evaluation of the child’s social skills

 .2910, p=.021

The total amount of ”I don’t know” or indistinct” answers

-.2819, p=.026


The age of the child’s nearest contact (partial correlation .161, p=.230) and plentiful amount of ”other action” (partial correlation .1069, p=.429) were no more significantly related. Background variables, mainly perhaps the child’s age was the intermediate reason for these variables being related. On the other hand, the partial correlations brought along a new variable, the child’s observed changing of his/her own situation. The child’s own situation differs from the given situation. In the child’s own situation he/she is a part of his/her orientation, when in the interview a predefined situation was presented for the children (you fail). The child that changes much of his/her own situation can be an indication of a separation from the context of the others. The child can act differently than others or  separate himself/herself from the others.


It is difficult to say what is the cause for a separate age factor for more changeable answers. Maybe it is the child’s ability to express himself/herself better. Maybe the correlation doesn’t really tell about a child’s view of situations but of a child’s way of talking about situations. Children with different language abilities give different answers.


Another new statistically significant variable emerged. The parents’ evaluation of the child’s preference of familiar and safe circumstances, which had a negative correlation (-.3007, p=.032) with the changeable perception. These variables fit well in to the evolving picture of the whole.


In a partial correlation two variables can be perfectly related, but if the relationship is not linear, a correlation coefficient is not an appropriate statistic for measuring their association and the normality of the variables must be checked. The variables “the number of indifferent answers” and ”parents’ evaluation of a child’s preference of familiar circumstances” do not qualify as normally distributed, so the correlations with these variables are questionable.

Discriminant analysis

In a bivariate examination when many variables are dealt with at the same time, there can be distortion, so a multivariate discriminant analysis was executed. Discriminant analysis is used to separate groups from each other as clearly and with as few variables as possible. It can be used as an exploratory tool to produce a good model, and it can be used to identify “good” predictor variables. All the potentially useful variables, which in this case means all significant differences found using Mann-Whitney test, were included in the data set.


The stepwise variable selection was executed with SPSS. Stepwise variable selection algorithms combine the features of forward selection and backward elimination. The variable selection method used here was that of the minimization of Wilk’s lambda. The criterion for variable entry was 3.84 and removal 2.71. Variable selection terminates when no more variables meet the entry or removal criteria. When the variables, “the amount of changing answers” and “teachers evaluation of social skills”, had both been included in the model, all F-to-remove values were greater than 2.71, so no more variables were removed. All variables not in the model after step 2 had F-to-enter values less than 3.84, so none were eligible for inclusion and variable selection stopped. The model with variables “all moulding answers” and “child’s social skills” classifies 78.8 % of original grouped cases correctly. This means that almost four out of five children’s answers in the failure situation can be predicted knowing only the child’s general tendency to respond to different situations and the teacher’s evaluation of the child’s social skills. This is especially significant because the children’s answers and the teachers evaluations are not measured by the same meters. The way the children see the situation and how they act in situations seem to be having a real connection.


The research results do not directly show, that the child’s way of telling, interpreting or seeing different situations as changeable would be the cause of the manner in which a child, in fact, changes his/her reality. However, the children’s perceptions must be taken seriously, if we really want to explore the other side of the interaction. A century-long heavy tradition dictating the way of looking at child development is making us blind. Psychological tradition sees the child as developing. Sociological and historical tradition is heavy on the change of the child’s status and role in society. But, the role of the child’s perception as an agent of change has been little discussed or researched. In this research the point is not the child’s development, but the possibility of the child developing the environment. We can talk of interaction only when both actors can be changed.


To pay regard to a child’s reality-changing character from the departure point of the perceptions can, furthermore, have a profound impact on the research of perceiving success/failure. There is no point just to investigate the reasons for failure or what kind of goals the child has to achieve the given success, if the child is a real participant in the moulding of the success-/failure-situation. The success/failure is not something that the child only adapts to, but success/failure is a situation that a child is preparing and which criterions he/she is defining.


In this article Vygotsky’s model of proximal development has been referred to. The model includes the child’s potential effect on the adult, society and culture. However Vygotsky does not elaborate this point of view. So many times the vygotskian approach is associated with the adult’s need to adapt to making new evaluations and actions to acquire their goals. But if the child really changes the adults’ actions, thinking and environment, the contents of the learning can not remain the same. The child does not learn things in his/her own way, not only because of the unique interpretation of the phenomenon. Rather, the child’s way of learning in his/her own way depends also on his/her own fingerprints up on the phenomenon to be learned. The child projects upon the subjects his/her own tones and abilities and which form the process of moulding our evolving reality. The child does not only learn from reality, but produces new aspects and introduces them into the learning environment. There are things that can be learned only after the child has produced them or has been participating in the production of these new aspects of reality. Without the producing role of the child, these new things that are learned would never have existed, and neither the child nor the adult could ever have learned them. It can even be said that if the fundamental principle of human action is interaction, learning does not happen if the child does not change the thing to be learned.


Things on physical reality do not progress according to reversible laws: that is to say, most natural processes do not go from a state of disorde to order without a infusion of energy to bring about such a change in a natural environment. Likewise, in education, if we want to take the concept of interaction seriously, this means that we must shift from the stance of goal orientation to that of the evaluation of possibilities, which thus emphasizes the way in which the role of the child’s perception may function as an agent of change, as an “infusion” of energy into his/her social environment.


This is not a moral statement of the importance of the child’s view or of a child’s right to act as a subject. But it hints that when we see interaction from both sides we are better equipped to grasp situations and to take part in producing our world together with the child. As such, the train does not leave us standing motionless in the station. To acquire this view, education and the social sciences must give up some of their assumptions. It must be regarded, that with just the mere fact of looking the at the world, the child changes that world, his/her own and everyone else’s as well.



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