Reid, James (2017) Theorising a university module exploring the concept of 'voice' arising in the UNCRC and the social study of childhood. In: ECE beyond the crisis: social justice, solidarity and children’s rights., 29 - 31 August 2017, University of Bologna, Italy. (Unpublished)

This symposium explicates an approach taken with final year childhood studies students in a module adopting an explicit and critical UNCRC informed approach and a small piece of empirical research with children or young people. Reid considers the Theorising at the foundation of the module. He argues that children's experiences need to be seen within a political frame highlighting how social justice and a political ethic of care underpin teaching and assessment. Marsden develops the discussion to explain how UNCRC rights bearing is understood in the context of listening and responding to children. Agency is a feature of the relational dynamic in teaching and in developing students as researchers. Hunter draws on the methodological challenges faced by the students in eliciting the views of children through the Mosaic Approach. This is an aspect of the reflexive encounter undertaken by the students in considering their transition in professional practitioner roles.

This contribution to the symposium, the first of three, takes as its starting point the UNCRC (1998), particularly the general principle enshrined in Article 12 - the right to be heard. The need for children to be heard in a context of civic, political, economic, social and cultural rights gives rise to analyses of children's experiences in relation with class, gender, race, (dis)ability, age, and the concept of rights itself (for example, Taefi 2009). This has led others to argue that 'intersectionality' is key to understanding diverse lives and the relation between children and the powerful structures that shape their lives (for example, Davis 2008). Consequently, 'intersectionality' has been a significant concept in Theorising children and childhoods. Others have argued against the proliferation of diversity (Qvortrup 2015, Alanen 2016) positing instead that childhood is the appropriate social category for exploring children's lives. This brings into view understanding of ethical practice (BERA 2013), models of participation (Hart 1992, Shier 2001), and mechanisms that give children a voice. Such debates in the social study of childhood have implications for how children, childhood and children's rights are taught and assessed in universities. Indeed, there is also a need to navigate any notion that university students and future practitioners, in a neoliberal higher education context, are passive recipients of knowledge. The paper thus seeks to trace the 'politics' of how the child's voice is brought into the analytical frame in a third year university module, drawing on a particular approach to social justice and political ethic of care (Toronto 1993).

Symposium Presentation
EECERA Bologna Sept 2017.pptx - Presentation

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