- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 What do we mean by ‘children’s voices’?
- 2 Children’s experiences of services
- 3 Children’s experiences of family life
- 4 Valuing and using what we learn from children
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- Tuesday 18th June
- Wednesday 19th June
What children and young people say
This unit looks at how practitioners and other adults talk to children...
This unit looks at how practitioners and other adults talk to children and young people, and considers how this influences what they tell us. It identifies how children and young people would prefer to be engaged with, what would encourage their confidence in authority figures, and outlines the ways in which adults can improve on their listening techniques.
By the end of this unit you will:
- be familiar with research and other sources of information about children’s experiences in education and other spheres
- have an increased appreciation of how children’s lives outside of school influence their experiences within school
- recognise how our own experiences and our views of children and childhood influence how we learn about, interpret and act upon what children tell us
- be able to take a critical approach to research, advocacy and other activities focused on finding out and promoting children’s views and experiences.
What children and young people say
Having one’s voice heard is an integral aspect of participation. Yet ‘voice’ is a complex construct. It is not a fixed, internal characteristic, to be passed on and acted upon by others, but a product of social interaction, subject to change. In this unit we will discuss perspectives children have shared, as well as some of the ways their voices are shaped and how this process is intimately tied up with identity.
We will consider how the process of eliciting the views of children and young people influences what they tell us, and the ongoing construction of their identities. This process will vary according to what is being researched and which children are involved. Listening to disabled children and young people, children and young people from different cultures, and children and young people whose dialect or first language we do not share, for example, can present particular issues of access, communication and approach.
We will also consider how the power relations between children and adults, and our views about children and childhood, impact on the way we learn about, understand, and act upon what children tell us. We ask what difference children’s views and experiences make and how far their views are really taken into account when making decisions about the laws, policies and practices which affect them. We look at how far government consultations truly take on board the views of children, or whether they simply ‘tick the participation box’. We describe efforts to increase children’s influence on government.
Listening to children and young people is vital to the development of inclusive services, democratic society and a culture which respects human rights. We conclude the unit by reflecting on how we can use what we have learned to these ends.
This unit is an adapted extract from the course.
Copyright & revisions
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
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