M.A. Rodrigues1, A.P. Cardoso2, F.A. Lopes2, A. Lopes2

1Agrupamento de Escolas Viseu Norte (PORTUGAL)
2Instituto Politécnico de Viseu, CI&DETS, Escola Superior de Educação (PORTUGAL)
This study was placed within the context of teaching, and was mainly concerned with the improvement of the relationship between children and their peers, so as to raise their awareness to the importance of an ethical behavior.

The main objective of this research study was to understand in what way stories, told in a classroom environment, took part in the development of concepts of friendship, respect and difference among pupils of the 3 rd grade.

For this purpose, we carried out an action research work, involving a methodological approach that seeks to change a particular situation in order to improve it, as well as to produce knowledge about the changes therefrom arising, with the participation of the envolved actors themselves. The research encompassed a dynamic process of planning, action, observation and evaluation.

The sample was comprised by twelve pupils, seven boys and five girls, aged between eight and nine, attending a 3 rd grade class at a public primary school located in an urban environment, belonging to a school grouping, located in the urban fringe of Viseu, centre region of Portugal. This group was chosen by the researcher due to her previous knowledge of the students in this particular class who, in a general sense, were shown to experiment difficulties in relating with classmates and some unawareness of the real meaning of some values, such as friendship, respect and difference.

With a view to the accomplishment of the action research study, several data gathering instruments were applied, such as a first interview, at the start of the study; participant observation; documental analysis resulting from the activities and the different challenges proposed, concerning a corpus chosen according to the objectives which were defined at the start of the study and, finally, a second interview was applied at the end of the study, which would allow for comparing the results obtained before and after the implementation of the study.

A comparison of the results of the two interviews showed a noteworthy increase on the part of students with regard to the recognition of values, alongside with the development of some concepts, namely at the level of friendship, respect and difference. In addition to the certainty highlighted by the given answers, a greater capacity to justify their opinions and infer situations was also verified, in other words, a more complex use of language was also observed.

It should also be pointed out that, although less manifest, there was a slight improvement in terms of the relationship among peers, namely in situations when a less appropriate kind of behavior occurred, where the ability to reflect on such behavior was clearly revealed, taking into account the knowledge acquired in the meantime.

The present research enabled one therefore to conclude that Literature for Children is greatly important for the promotion and development of values, for the improvement of the relationships of the Self with the Other, as well as for an enrichment of vocabulary related to Education for Citizenship.

More and more, in today’s society, it is required that teachers be innovative and rely upon diversified strategies in the education for citizenship, one being capable to verify that Literature for Children is a solid cornerstone in this trajectory and of real support to reach positive results.