Tuesday 27 April 2010

Beyond Article 12 Essential Readings in children's participation

Beyond Article 12 Essential Readings in children’s participation by Henk van Beers, Brian Milne and Antonella Invernizzi was published in 2006 by Black on White Publications and aims to provide an overview of legal, philosophical, theoretical and practical writing from the broad debate on children's participation.

The book provides excerpts from key works of reference and established writers in three sections:
What does participation mean?
Are children citizens?
Children's participation in practice

Brief introductions to each section and subsection provide a guide through some of the issues that are often taken for granted by specialist writers. Suggestions for further reading are included so that readers can explore their own interests in greater depth.

From the introduction:

“As far as possible, we aimed to present a systematic, non-partisan and holistic view of the topic. By providing basic material on history, theory and practice we want to facilitate an increased understanding of the complex issue of children’s participation, as well as to encourage readers to seek further information. The Readings include legal instruments, philosophy, implementation, practice, experience and the broad debate on what children’s participation should or should not be.”


“Some of the most notable gaps occur in theory. There is no holistic approach to children’s participation. History, underlying philosophies and the implementation of legal instruments appear to be disconnected. Indeed one of the most disconcerting aspects of the way the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, Reading 3) has been used by some devotees of child participation has been a total resistance to think beyond article 12.
Not only are other participation rights infrequently visited by writers and activists but also there is no critique of these oversights. Yet, when the work of pioneers is examined, a broader vision becomes apparent. The ideas of Janusz Korczak (1878/9–1942), the Polish doctor and philosopher who is often credited with beginning modern debates on children’s rights, most certainly harboured a wider range of possibilities. John Dewey’s educational theories (Reading 43) trusted children far more than many contemporary child participation enthusiasts and Ivan Illich’s critique of education (Reading 47) most certainly placed greater trust in the hands and minds of all ages – children included. Perhaps the most illustrative of all is the work of Alexander S. Neill (Reading 48) who foresaw, advocated and practiced intellectual and personal freedoms for children of the kind included much later in the UNCRC. Children give living examples that these principles work.”

Until the costs for printing have been recovered this book is only available in hard copy and can be ordered at Knowing Children. As per April 2010 there were 100 copies left. Price is USD 12.50 including postage and packaging worldwide.

I will publish a few extracts from the publication in future posts.

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