Monday 3 September 2007

Recognising children as social agents

Researching Children’s Morality: developing research methods that allow children’s involvement in discourses relevant to their everyday lives.
by Sam Frankel, in: Childhoods Today Online Journal, Volume 1 Issue 1 - July 2007

The article describes how young children can be involved in research as long as research methods are relevant to the children's own context and understanding. Among other methods, the author details how he developed a questionnaire by combining it with an audio recording that not only captured interest of the children but also resulted in accurate processing and a high response to the questions. The research makes a case to see children as social agents, "who draw and develop meaning based on their own social experiences. Without this move to engage children in the context of the social world they inhabit, policy and practice will remain based on generalisations, clouded by adult perceptions of childhood (Mayall, 2002; Oakley, 1994)." (p.21)

From the journal:

Abstract: Contemporary children’s childhoods are full of discourses about children and right and wrong. However, the foundation for these moral debates is often based on adult assumptions about children rather than reliable knowledge obtained from them. This article therefore seeks to explore ways in which children can be involved in the research process, such that their voices can be heard. Through looking at a number of creative research it argues that children can be competent and legitimate research partners within moral discourses, providing data that can inform more effective policy and practice.


The research

".... looked at the way in which children experience morality within their everyday lives and endeavours to explore ways in which children as social agents can be legitimate and competent partners in a quest for understanding. Such work can then be used as a foundation for policy makers to move away from a reliance on adult assumptions, allowing them to draw on reliable knowledge of children’s childhoods."


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