Children’s Rights at the Museum of Childhood Ireland – Friday 8th January 2021
Children’s participation in research
If young people have the right to make informed decisions and voice their opinions on everything that directly concerns them, as is postulated in The Convention on the Rights of the Child, they may also engage in scholarly research. This engagement may mean children’s contribution to designing and conducting the research process, interpreting the data, and disseminating the results. Participatory research with children paves the way for the child–adult dialogue and co-production of knowledge in which children’s experiences and viewpoints matter and can offer productive insights. Yet participatory research with children obviously has its challenges. Adults may find avoiding occasional interventions difficult. Children may feel overburdened with too much responsibility and not all of them will enjoy participation. Child-adult collaborative research projects are also messy and unpredictable and involve a lot of coordination and negotiation. They also require thinking of child-sensitive methods with intellectual and emotional appeal. What if child participants prefer to draw or sing rather than read and write? What if they get tired or bored? Moreover, participatory research may produce outcomes that do not meet the traditional academic requirements of rigour and validity. Yet these results may be important as information about what needs to be changed in policies concerning children’s lives. Finally, they are worth the effort as they show that children and adults share the same world but may see it differently. Why not take seriously both perspectives and child-adult interdependencies to make life better for us all?
Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak, Ph.D., D.Litt.
Associate Board Member, Children’s Rights, Museum of Childhood Ireland.
Director of the Center for Young People’s Literature and Culture
CYPLC – Center for Young Peoples’s Literature and Culture, Dept of English Studies, Wroclaw University, Poland.