Read the editorial from issue #140: ‘How Inclusive of Children are our Educational Research Methods?’
20 May 2019
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was written in 1989 and is legally binding in 195 countries. Articles 12 and 13 specify that children and young people (C&YP) have the right to express their opinion, and that there needs to be adaptability in how these opinions are canvassed. In this special issue we feature both UK and international contributors with the aim of exploring educational research methods that encourage and engage with children’s views, and acknowledging the international nature of the UNCRC. Our contributors vary from emerging researchers to those with established reputations in the field of participatory children’s rights; they include classroom practitioners and university-based researchers.
The UNRC implies that researchers need to develop ways to access children’s opinions from the outset of a research project. In this issue of Research Intelligence, Chamberlain and Cooper discuss a project between the Open University’s Children’s Research Centre and Amnesty International UK, incorporating C&YP’s participation, to produce a picturebook to celebrate the UNCRC’s 30th anniversary.
Pupils’ participation in decision-making for special school placement was included in legislation in Israel in 2005. Uziely describes his research with young people involved in the Israeli educational system, finding that supportive adults and students going through a process of preparation for meetings about their placement resulted in higher levels of participation.
Kestere and Kalke explored the images of a ‘typical teacher’ created by children. Their work shows how students come to hold stereotypes that can be affected by the external environment.
Forbes explores the importance of taking the lead from young people in participatory research to create space for sharing meanings and developing mutual trust. Ahmed’s study also develops the concept of safe discussion spaces through examining a traditional Islamic approach – halaqah – in supporting students to develop a sense of self, discussing its potential broader applications for values teaching.
Digital technology has a role in supporting children’s learning and developing their sense of control over that learning and how they are taught. Canning, Horsley and Payler discuss how the Our Story digital app can be used to develop their imaginations. Niemi describes how practicing teachers can encourage students to reflect on their learning experiences by using iPads to construct picturebooks – a process that prompted her to make changes to her pedagogy to better meet her pupils’ needs.
Woolhouse, Kay, Hastings, Hallett and Dunne used images to capture students’ representation of inclusion and exclusion, utilising software to ‘cartoonise’ those images to protect students’ identities while retaining the richness of the images.
We end the discussion of participatory rights with Hanna’s reflection on three key principles she has learned from researching with children: the right to be consulted applies to research; vulnerable groups, such as migrant young people, are active not passive; and C&YP are experts on their own lives.
These researchers demonstrate that C&YP have much to offer both researchers and teachers – about their views of the world, about how they can be encouraged to be more active participants in sharing their understanding, and about the role they can play in informing classroom practice. Adults working with C&YP stand to gain a great deal by providing spaces in which issues can be explored from their perspectives, allowing C&YP to make critical contributions about all aspects of their lives based on their personal expertise.
By Carmel Capewell & Alison Fox Guest editors, Research Intelligence issue #139.