Last week, as well as visiting a number of schools, I was also at a conference on collaboration and participation hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University. One of the questions I was left with was - to what extent should children’s participation based outputs (whatever those might be, for example films, stories, art works, presentations) reflect a level of excellence or is simply taking part ‘good enough’?
At a time when children and young people are at the forefront of efforts to engage with some of the major issues of our age, it seems that part of our role as adult facilitators is to use the participative process to enable children to be as ‘successful’ as possible, as they grow in awareness of their voice and how effectively it can be amplified. The work of Challenge 59 - offers a really interesting example of this - www.challenge59.com.
I saw the term ‘pupils as professionals’ in a piece of research a couple of years back. The concept makes you stop and think, challenging you to re-position how you see the child in these adult dominated spaces. In what ways can we empower children to be ‘professionals’ to find their voice and then to use it to challenge the existing structures of our institutions?
Using participative opportunities as a way of allowing children to develop skills and knowledge that they can use to further their voice can form part of this. This requires adult facilitators to reflect on
- the learning opportunities that their project might invite
- giving children training in creative methods of sharing (as part of the project)
- Including a reflective element that allows space to review the learning and any ongoing application
- recognising that the final output as important as it is, is a part of a journey.
If that journey includes allowing children to grow in awareness of the value of their voice and how they can amplify it - then it was a journey worth taking!