PiE 2011 Special issue 1

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  • ItemOpen Access
    “They discluded me”: possibilities and limitations of children’s participation in inclusion research in South Africa
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Walton, Elizabeth
    Beyond realising the right of children and young people to be heard in routine interactions, there is much scope for research with (rather than on) children. This is particularly pertinent in the field of inclusive education where there is potential for the voice of children and young people to be a lever for change and to promote inclusive practice. South African inclusion research has, however, given little attention to the perspectives and experiences of children and young people. In advocating for research to listen to the voice of insiders – children who have experienced inclusion and exclusion, this paper explores the dilemma of inclusion research. Selecting some children to participate in inclusion research on the basis of disability or other marker of difference undermines the inclusive endeavour. But without their perspective, we may never expose excluding and marginalising practices and attitudes, even within inclusive contexts. Four research initiatives which highlight this dilemma are described, concluding that the dilemma is unresolvable, but that the ongoing debate is valuable. Ultimately the call is for research that is both participatory and emancipatory, resulting in the reduction of exclusionary cultures and practices and the inclusion of young voices in the discourse that produces inclusion knowledge.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Learning through doing: suggesting a deliberative approach to children’s political participation and citizenship
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Bentley, Kristina
    The paper focuses on the issue of children’s political participation and considers the idea of political participation understood as a human right. Contingently it considers the question of children as agents or potential political actors, as well as the assumed limitations of their role. The paper begins by offering an outline of how children’s rights have come to be considered in the international context as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the idealized concept of childhood that is implicit in this convention. The paper then proposes some alternative approaches to understanding childhood and children’s status, with a view to proposing a more nuanced approach to their political participation that neither treats them as passive recipients of duties towards them, nor as the voiceless possessions of groups or families. This is followed by an account of the emerging debate about deliberative democracy as a more substantive approach to political participation, and by some consideration of how this relates to the rights and capabilities of children as political actors. The paper concludes with some tentative suggestions about how institutions in South Africa could be utilized to realize a more flexible and nuanced approach to children’s participation in this key area.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Judging children’s participatory parity from social justice and the political ethics of care perspectives
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Bozalek, Vivienne
    This article proposes a model for judging children’s participatory parity in different social spaces. The notion of participatory parity originates in Nancy Fraser’s normative theory for social justice, where it concerns the participatory status of adults. What, then, constitutes participatory parity for children? How should we judge the extent to which they are able to participate as equals in their different social environments? And how should we evaluate the adequacy of different social arrangements for children’s participation, across the ‘private/public’ divide? The article examines the usefulness of three normative frameworks for judging the conditions for children to participate on an equal footing with others, in ways that support their well-being. Two frameworks are from the field of social justice theory; the third is from the political ethics of care. Selected concepts from all three frameworks are used to propose a normative model for children’s participatory parity. Examples from a study on children’s participatory practices in South African families illustrate the application of the model, which holds some promise for theorising children’s participation in other participatory spaces.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Modes of participation and conceptions of children in South African education
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Carrim, Nazir
    For school-aged children, schools comprise a major space of participation. Formally, it is a participatory space constituted and regulated by the laws and policies that govern schooling; informally, it is a participatory space whose affordances and patterns of inclusion/exclusion are shaped by children’s diverse lives and experiences. This article examines modes of participation in relation to conceptions of children in the South African Schools Act of 1996 and South African curriculum policy, with particular attention to the images of children, their participatory opportunities and their implied participatory agency in the domains of school governance and pedagogy. Policy and related discourse in both domains, it is argued, implicitly homogenise children by portraying them as “learners”. At the same time, there is an inconsistency between the images of children and their participatory agency at the level of school governance and at the levels of curriculum and pedagogy. Drawing on empirical data that indicates the significant impact of social conditions on children’s participation in pedagogical spaces and their schooling more generally, the article makes a case for recognising difference. Furthermore, the article contributes to a growing critical literature on children’s participation by examining connections and disconnections between official constructions of participatory space and the diverse life-worlds of children in South Africa.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Participation, local governance and attitudes of youth: a Grahamstown case study
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Roodt, Monty J.; Stuurman, Sonwabo
    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child includes children’s right to participation in processes that affect them. In this article we caution that in order to give real content to participation, it is necessary to understand what participation is and to acknowledge the problematic nature of the concept. We then demonstrate, by considering a number of international and African studies, the kinds of issues that have undermined the implementation of participatory initiatives for both adults and children. Subsequently we explore the way in which participation has become a central tenet of cooperative developmental government through what has, especially at the local level, become known as governance. We argue that for these opportunities to become a reality and for citizens to benefit from the governance model, a strong and organised civil society that moves beyond the limitations of confrontational protest politics and engages with the state without becoming co-opted, is the way forward. Increased inefficiency on the part of local governance structures has led to increasing disillusionment by citizens, especially younger people. The final section of the paper deals with this disaffection through a focus group interview with a small number of Grade 12 learners from Grahamstown/Rhini. The interviews reveal a level of cynicism and lack of interest in participation in governance structures, such as ward meetings, among the learners interviewed. Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies (Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary General).
  • ItemOpen Access
    Theorising creative expression in children’s participation
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Henderson, Patricia C.
    The paper suggests that phenomenology, the anthropology of the senses and of embodiment, performance theory and multi-modal pedagogies offer a rich set of theoretical ideas with which to consider children’s expressive repertoires as overlooked forms of social participation and critique. Four case studies in relation to children’s photography, dramatic improvisation, art-making and radio programming are explored as instances of meaningful participation and as forms of research. These “impassioned” forms of expression are contrasted with child participation as invitation to “speak” within the public sphere in ways that are limited and perhaps limiting. The paper therefore questions assumptions around accessing children’s “voices”.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Theorising children’s participation: trans-disciplinary perspectives from South Africa
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Henderson, Patricia; Pendlebury, Shirley; Tisdall, E. Kay M.
    Abstract not available
  • ItemOpen Access
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Pendlebury, Shirley
    Abstract not available
  • ItemOpen Access
    Hearing learner voice in health promoting schools through participatory action research
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Sonn, Brenda; Santens, Anneleen; Ravau, Sarah
    The participation of learners in school life and learner voice is important for learner development and the implementation of school interventions. In this paper we argue that learner participation and learner voice in school-community interventions contribute to learners’ development of a critical consciousness and to their understanding of themselves in society. We show how participatory action research methodologies such as reflective writing, metaphor, and photovoice supported 30 secondary school learners from schools in challenging contexts to explore and extend themselves as participants in Health Promoting Schools. The creative design of these participatory action research methods and the discursive spaces which these methods provided gave learners the opportunity for self-expression and deepened their understanding of complex social issues such as diversity, drug abuse, gangsterism and violence, and how they are affected by these issues.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Education for participatory democracy: a Grade R perspective
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Linington, Vivien; Excell, Lorayne; Murris, Karin
    This paper proposes a form of Grade R pedagogy in South African schools that addresses both the diverse realities of South Africa’s children and the principles underpinning a participatory democracy. The community of enquiry pedagogy we propose is based on a socio-cultural historical theoretical perspective and focuses on the nurturing of a reasonable person (both learner and teacher) in the context of a play-based Grade R (reception year). This relational pedagogy assumes the inclusion of child’s voice and the participation of child1 as thinker, and therefore challenges teachers to take up different roles as co-enquirers, democrats, guides and listeners.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Multimodality and children’s participation in classrooms: instances of research
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Newfield, Denise
    This paper describes how language and literacy classrooms became more participatory, agentive spaces through addressing a central issue in teaching and learning: the forms of representation through which children make their meanings. It reconsiders pedagogic research in under-resourced Gauteng classrooms during the period 1994 – 2005, during the first decade of education in post-liberation South Africa. This research shows teachers using multimodality in productive, expressive and creative ways that work against deficit models of children, drawing on their everyday experiences and their existing representational resources. It outlines the theoretical framework supporting the pedagogical approach, that of multimodal social semiotics, known more widely as “multimodality”, and discusses three instances of children’s multimodal practice, in Grades 1 and 2, 7 and 10 respectively. It sums up the role played by multimodality in participation, showing how multimodality enables cognitive, social and affective participation through expanding the semiotic space of the classroom and reconstituting the children as sign-makers.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Children and participation in South Africa: exploring the landscape
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2011) Bray, Rachel; Moses, Sue
    Much of the literature on children’s participation distinguishes sharply between “informal” and “formal” forms of participation, which although analytically convenient, may limit possibilities for theorising. This paper examines tensions and links between children’s informal and formal participation, and looks at how participation is constituted in and by different social spaces in South Africa. Some of the ways in which children have participated in public matters prior to and following the advent of democracy in South Africa are examined, e.g. through public protest, school governance, law and policy development and service delivery. Shifts in the political landscape since apartheid are shown to have both opened and closed spaces and opportunities for children to influence decision making. Ultimately, a shrinking of informal spaces and the limited functioning of formal spaces due to popular attitudes and socio-economic factors has resulted in a constrained participation environment. Small shifts, however, in acknowledgement of the multiple ways that children collectively and individually contribute to the unfolding of everyday life, the emergence of new informal spaces and a broadening of the focus of participation initiatives, may herald an opportunity to move beyond often formulaic “formal” participation in governance to a broader inclusion of children in decision making.