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Troubling school toilets: resisting discourses of ‘development’ through a critical disability studies and critical psychology lens

Jen Slater, Charlotte Jones Orcid Logo, Lisa Procter

Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Volume: 40, Issue: 3, Pages: 412 - 423

Swansea University Author: Charlotte Jones Orcid Logo

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Abstract

This paper interrogates how school toilets and ‘school readiness’ are used to assess children against developmental milestones. Such developmental norms both inform school toilet design and practice, and perpetuate normative discourses of childhood as middle-class, white, ‘able’, heteronormative, ci...

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Published in: Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
ISSN: 0159-6306 1469-3739
Published: Informa UK Limited 2019
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa61318
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Abstract: This paper interrogates how school toilets and ‘school readiness’ are used to assess children against developmental milestones. Such developmental norms both inform school toilet design and practice, and perpetuate normative discourses of childhood as middle-class, white, ‘able’, heteronormative, cissexist and inferior to adulthood. Critical psychology and critical disability studies frame our analysis of conversations from online practitioner forums. We show that school toilets and the norms and ideals of ‘toilet training’ act as one device for Othering those who do not fit into normative Western discourses of ‘childhood’. Furthermore, these idealised discourses of ‘childhood’ reify classed, racialised, gendered and dis/ablist binaries of good/bad parenting. We conclude by suggesting new methodological approaches to school toilet research which resist perpetuating developmental assumptions and prescriptions. In doing this, the paper is the first to explicitly bring school toilet research into the realms of critical psychology and critical disability studies.
Keywords: Childhood; critical psychology; development; disability studies; school readiness; school toilets; toilet training
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Funders: This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Connected Communities Strand) under Grant AH/M00922X/1.
Issue: 3
Start Page: 412
End Page: 423