Agency as assemblage: Using childhood artefacts and memories to examine children’s relations with schooling

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Childhood, Agency, Schooling, Memories, Artefacts


In this article, we explore how childhood artefacts and memories might help us think retrospectively about children’s agency and its relationship to schooling and teaching. Across four university sites in Canada and the United States, we asked undergraduate students in teacher education and childhood studies programs to choose an artefact or object that encapsulates contemporary conceptions of childhood and to discuss them in a focus group setting at each site. Building on three participants’ descriptions of how they remembered and reflected upon school-oriented objects – a progress report, a notebook, and a pencil sharpener – we explore how participants used their artefacts in ways that allow us to theorize children’s agencies as assemblages, where agency is relational and contingent on multiple social and cultural factors. Drawing on our participants’ interpretations, we consider how a reconceptualized concept of agency may expand our understanding of the possibilities of children’s agencies in school and raise new questions about the meaning of childhood within contexts of teacher education and childhood studies.


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How to Cite

Garlen, J. C., Sonu, D., Farley, L., & Chang-Kredl, S. (2022). Agency as assemblage: Using childhood artefacts and memories to examine children’s relations with schooling. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 3(2), 122–138.