Child and adolescent development

Moderator: Olja Jovanović Milanović


Olja Jovanović Milanović

Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade |

During the subsequent ten years in Serbia, there has been considerable activity to move policy
and practice in a more inclusive direction. In this paper, I use evidence from multiple research
studies carried out in recent years in order to consider what has been done and what needs to
be done to move the education system in an inclusive direction. In an attempt to define inclusive
education, I will rely on Ainscow, Booth and Dyson (2006) idea that ’inclusion is focused on
presence, participation and achievement’.
‘Presence’ is concerned with where children are educated. Data suggest than there has been a
a steady reduction in the numbers of pupils attending special schools, and an increase in the
a number of pupils from vulnerable groups (VG) in mainstream education (UNICEF, 2020).
Barriers to the presence of VG children in mainstream education manifest itself in different ways:
underrepresentation in both compulsory and non-compulsory education, overrepresentation in
self-contained classrooms and rare transfers from special to mainstream education.
It is not enough to ensure access, but it has to be access to high-quality experiences and
support. Although findings related to the quality of inclusive education are inconclusive, they
suggest a discrepancy in the assessment of certain aspects of (pre)school education between
vulnerable groups and mainstream population (e.g. parental involvement, antidiscrimination
Moreover, inclusive education should have in focus ’achievements’ of all children. Research
on academic outcomes of VG children in Serbia is scarce. However, the study conducted on
a population of eight graders strongly support the view that inclusion of VG students in regular
classes does not have a negative impact on the achievements of their peers (Jovanović et al,
2017). The same study suggests that positive learning outcomes for all children are not
a consequence of a well-developed system of support, but of concurrent engagement of competent
and motivated individuals. Wellbeing is also considered to be a particularly important indicator
of the quality of inclusive education. Evaluative studies of inclusiveness on both preschool
(OSF, 2020) and primary education level (Kovač Cerović et al, 2016) indicate that (pre)school
staff, parents and children agree on high levels of children wellbeing. However, compared to
their peers, VG children show significantly lower levels of wellbeing and peer acceptance.
Efforts used to bring large-scale change in the past decade were predominantly low leverage
(e.g. policy documents, conferences, in-service courses). Whilst such initiatives may make a
contribution, by and large, they do not lead to significant changes in thinking and practice
(Senge, 1989). Ten years after the introduction of inclusive education, equity issues are still
persistent, therefore we should ask ourselves have we been transforming the educational system
towards inclusion, or we have just renamed it.
Keywords: inclusive education, monitoring and evaluation, education system change


Vladimir Džinović

Institute for Educational Research, Belgrade |

The aim of this work is to present a new concept of the agonistic self as well as a new
methodology for its exploring and transforming. Based on Foucault’s analytics of power, but
also a constructivist metaphor of the community of self and the theory of polyphony we
propose the self to be conceived as multiple and emerging from the dialogical encounter of
the various positions of subjectivities unequalled in power. We propose to define the self as
agonistic, which means that the positions of subjectivities as voices struggle each other for the
dominance. This theoretical model of the self explains the empirical findings suggesting that
the sense of self is fragmented, contextualized, changeable and inconsistent. Further, inspired
by the technique of the constructivist rologram, we developed a new approach to exploring
and facilitating change in the agonistic self in the contexts of identity research and therapeutic
practice. The interviewees were initially asked to think about their experiences in terms of
metaphoric voices and to write down short narratives which reflected the standpoints of the
voices. Then, the interviewees’ repertoires of positions were complemented by the voices of
the significant others, like parents or peers. Finally, the relationships between the elicited
voices were discussed with particular focus on the dimensions of domination versus
marginalization and cooperation versus conflict. The dynamics in the agonistic self was also
analyzed by the following interpretive terms: positioning, struggle for dominance, strategic
situation, manoeuvre and resistance. The questions were raised such as ‘Which voice is
particularly influential or the loudest?’, ‘Which voices oppose him/her most and how?’, ‘Can
you describe the typical situation in which this voice regains or maintains his/her dominant
position?‘, ‘Which voices cooperate most? And which of them enter the conflict?’. The multi-
case study research on teacher professional identity is conducted and the results were
presented as the illustration of the methodology of the agonistic self.
Keywords: the multiple self, qualitative research, identity, power


Smiljana Jošić

Institute for Educational Research, Belgrade |
Today, collaborative problem solving is often seen as one of the crucial competencies in
successful coping with everyday life. True collaborative work means the continuous shared
commitment of two or more speakers to achieve certain goals together, to solve a problem or to
construct some new knowledge in the process. Of many years standing researches and projects,
like Thinking Together, showed that children of age 6 – 14 need an introduction of basic rules
before they engage in any shared activity. The question that remains open is whether these rules
of collaboration are effective in different contexts and how the students understand them. The
aim of this research was focused on how children understand basic rules of collaboration where
suitable usage of language was crucial in solving the problems together. Ten pairs of 10 years
old solved 16 tasks which were set on establishing different rules of collaboration. Sentences
were presented in positive and negative connotations and the task was directed on detecting the
good and the bad rules of collaboration. Children could construct a new rule of collaboration if it
was not previously offered. All of the dialogues were transcribed and analyzed by conversation
analysis which was focused on spontaneous verbal production within the process of solving both
good and bad rules of collaboration, and on the children’s first reactions. The results showed that
the most of the sentences in all the dyads were successfully marked and that children were able
to successfully detect the rules which encouraged the collaboration, but also those that interfered
with working together. Still, there were situations where the tasks were successfully solved but
the children were not able to offer precise explanations of the meaning of the rule. As the most
challenging, stands out the sentence „we must do as the leader says“. It is negatively formulated
rule which implies the separated responsibility of decision making and most of the errors were
made in that case. In certain situations, children constructed the new rules of collaboration,
which was allowed by the procedure, but the results were usually reformulated, previously
existing rules of collaboration. The results are going to be interpreted within the socio-cultural
paradigm. We will try to understand and present the significance of collaborations which
emerged spontaneously, provoked by the deliberating the rules of collaboration.
Keywords: cooperation, conversational analyses, meanings, ten-year-olds


Marina Videnović

Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade |
For a long time, adolescence has been considered a period of storm and stress filled with crises
and risky behaviours provoked by biological maturation. Empirical studies revealed that storm
and stress are not inevitable for all adolescents or even for the majority of them. Adolescents’
positive development and wellbeing emerged as new research fields that attract a lot of attention.
The aim of this study is to analyse empirical results related to the major issues of Serbian
adolescents and to mark open questions and further research direction. A lot of studies showed
that culture shapes the development of adolescents and the differences between adolescents from
different countries or between adolescents at different historical points should be expected. Ten
years of research of the adolescents’ everyday life doesn’t reveal empirical evidence for the storm
and stress paradigm. Most of the adolescents have a good relationship with their parents and do
not report being depressed or feeling lonely. Binge drinking is the most prominent risky
behaviour. About every third adolescent experienced drunkenness over a one month period
which is a relatively high per cent but not higher than in other European countries. Several studies
that used the EPOCH scale as an instrument for measuring wellbeing showed relatively high
scores of adolescents from Serbia and did not reveal many differences from the European
countries. Also, PISA 2018 study indicated that the overall life satisfaction of the fifteen-year-
olds from Serbia is higher than the OECD average. The question arises should those results
indicate that concerns about young people in Serbia are unjustified or we should look deeper to
identify challenges of today's adolescents. One of the domains in which problems are easily
identified is education. Every third adolescent from vocational school hasn’t got any teacher that
cares about her or him and almost 80% of them do not reach basic literacy level at PISA study.
Also, the quality of leisure time (usually spent in passive activities that do not require mental and
emotional engagement) could be considered as the big issue of Serbian adolescents that is shared
with adolescents from the western countries.
Keywords: adolescence, wellbeing, risky behaviour, Serbia, education