Session 4: Time to get started.
You have reached the final session in this course, but really this can be the beginning for you, where you start to organise your own research project. All the work you have been doing so far will have shown you that ‘research’ is not just something abstract and academic - it can be the inspiration for action that can result in change. Research involving children and young people is an important vehicle for adults to gain better insight into the everyday lives of those children and young people, and how they understand the world. It is a way of helping them to be heard; conceptualising them as researchers in their own right creates the conditions for them to participate in research in ways they choose. They can lead research themselves, shaping all aspects of a project from choosing their topic through to sharing their findings. They can also participate in shared research projects as informed participants, advisors and co-researchers, contributing to a spectrum of different research approaches.
Adults are often surprised to find how much insight children and young people have, and that even very young children can contribute meaningfully to research. Adults should, therefore, actively seek out opportunities for children and young people to express their views in ways which feel safe and supportive. You remember, from Session 1, how children and young people have the right to have a say, but it is more than that. In Session 2 you examined various ways of ensuring that children’s and young people’s voices are heard. For them to participate fully, and to put their UNCRC rights into practice, requires:
- Space: They must be given the opportunity to express a view
- Voice: They must be facilitated to express their views
- Audience: The view must be listened to
- Influence: The view must be acted upon as appropriate
Always remember that children and young people are experts in their own lives. Their participation leads to better research and offers them the chance to express their views with the confidence that they will be heard.
If you are in any doubt, have a look at Joshua Bingwa’s presentation about ‘what makes us different’ and imagine how the engagement and enthusiasm of a young person like him will inspire you as you conduct your research. The clip lasts a little over six minutes so you may not watch it in its entirety; nevertheless, as you do watch, think about how Joshua’s enthusiasm for his research has led him to develop his skills and knowledge, and to convey his message with such confidence and sophistication.
As you work through this session, you will be starting to shape your own ideas for a research project and looking at practical and personal considerations, but as you do this, keep in mind the bullet points above, and the TRREEE principles you studied in Session 3, which should be the foundation of your research.
By the end of this session, you should be able to:
- list the four key elements which summarise how children and young people can effectively participate in research that affects their lives
- summarise your research plan in a draft document
- link the outline of your plan with the TRREEE principles.