A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation

A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation brings together key thinkers and practitioners from diverse contexts across the globe to provide an authoritative overview of contemporary theory and practice around children’s participation. Promoting the participation of children and young people – in decision-making and policy development, and as active contributors to everyday family and community life – has become a central part of policy and programme initiatives in both majority and minority worlds. This book presents the most useful recent work in children’s participation as a resource for academics, students, and practitioners in childhood studies, children’s rights and welfare, child and family social work, youth and community work, governance, aid and development programmes. The book introduces key concepts and debates, and presents a rich collection of accounts of the diverse ways in which children’s participation is understood and enacted around the world, interspersed with reflective commentaries from adults and young people. It concludes with a number of substantial theoretical contributions that aim to take forward our understanding of children’s participation. The emphasis throughout the text is on learning from the complexity of children’s participation in practice to improve our theoretical understanding, and on using those theoretical insights to challenge practice, with the aim of realising children’s rights and citizenship more fully.

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Children and Young People’s Participation and Its Transformative Potential

Bringing together theories, ideas, insights and experiences of practitioners and researchers from Brazil, India, South Africa and the UK, this book explores children and young people’s involvement in public action. The contributors consider the potential of children and young people’s participation to be transformative.

Over the past 20 years, children and young people’s participation in decision-making has become part of international, and often national, policy rhetoric. Participation activities have grown apace. These range from bringing children and young people to the international stage – for example, in person to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Special Session on Children in 2002 or virtually at the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the III Global Conference on Child Labour in 2013 – to the (re)formation of institutional structures – for example, national children’s and youth parliaments, pupil councils in schools and youth forums in local government.

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Conditional Citizens: Rethinking Children and Young People’s Participation

This book challenges readers to recognise the conditions that underpin popular approaches to children and young people’s participation, as well as the key processes and institutions that have enabled its rise as a global force of social change in new times. The book draws on the vast international literature, as well as interviews with key practitioners, policy-makers, activists, delegates and academics from Japan, South Africa, Brazil, Nicaragua, Australia, the United Kingdom, Finland, the United States and Italy to examine the emergence of the young citizen as a key global priority in the work of the UN, NGOs, government and academia. In so doing, the book engages contemporary and interdisciplinary debates around citizenship, rights, childhood and youth to examine the complex conditions through which children and young people are governed and invited to govern themselves.

The book argues that much of what is considered ‘children and young people’s participation’ today is part of a wider neoliberal project that emphasises an ideal young citizen who is responsible and rational while simultaneously downplaying the role of systemic inequality and potentially reinforcing rather than overcoming children and young people’s subjugation. Yet the book also moves beyond mere critique and offers suggestive ways to broaden our understanding of children and young people’s participation by drawing on 15 international examples of empirical research from around the world, including the Philippines, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, North America, Finland, South Africa, Australia and Latin America. These examples provoke practitioners, policy-makers and academics to think differently about children and young people and the possibilities for their participatory citizenship beyond that which serves the political agendas of dominant interest groups.

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Life and death of the knowledge industry

WHOM TO TRUST for food for thought? In a confusing world, we are left to opt for one dominant pattern of behavior or the other: to lock ourselves into a bubble, where increasingly prolific media churn out large quantities of whatever material we want to ingest, to fit our interests or emotions; or to drift in limbo, bouncing off such comfort zones in search of bits and pieces of palatable knowledge more suited to a discerning diet. You feast on sweet corroboration, or scavenge for smidgens of reason. There is another, more practical way of putting the question: “why is it so hard to access high-quality intellectual content that meets our desire for making sense of troubling trends and events?” Indeed, it has become paradoxically difficult to do so, at a time when cognitive needs, analytic talent, archival references, knowledge-producing institutions, communication tools, and publication platforms are all in abundance. On the face of it, humankind has never been so well-equipped to decipher and rationalize the world, and yet wisdom appears as elusive as ever. Leaving aside the existential interrogations this may raise, there are prosaic explanations for our ongoing failure to obtain content as meaningful as we would hope, and possible remedies too.

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How Teachers Succeed

What are the fundamentals of pedagogic success? The essence is contained in three strategic concepts. The first is commonly referred to as “motivation.” Without it a class stagnates. After all, how long will you watch a movie that does nothing to capture your attention? Or read a novel that begins with a situation of no interest? The slower the start, the more difficult to generate enthusiasm. At best, the audience allows you a few minutes without much action. The same with teaching. Every student making an effort to learn should have the opportunity to do so. That aim can be achieved, however, only if material is presented in an effective order.  Even a well-organized presentation, though, will be unsuccessful if the material is not presented with clarity. In sum, a successful teacher provides motivation, organization, and clarity. If students aren’t motivated, don’t see how matters hang together, or are confused by the presentation, then regardless of what the teacher may believe, the quality of the instruction has fallen short.

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The Origins of Collective Decision Making

By uncovering their histories, Andy Blunden’s Origins of Collective Decision Making reveals a great deal about the character and feel of the consensus and majority decision-making paradigms. Blunden takes up a question that has received curiously little attention from scholars: how did political organizations in the English-speaking world come to adopt the paradigms of collective decision making that they use today? Blunden rightly points out that it is one thing to know when and where a decision-making paradigm was first used, and quite another to reconstruct the lines of influence by which that paradigm was traduced. It is not enough, he argues, to say that an idea is “in the air”: people always learn about political practices from specific sources. Somehow, majority rule became central to the “traditional decision-making procedures and structures of the social democratic and labor movements” by the end of the nineteenth century; somehow, consensus process, and the horizontalist style of which it is a component, came to define many late-twentieth and early twenty-first century anarchist and “alter-globalisation” groups.

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In Learning, every moment counts

Psychologists have uncovered strong variability in motivation in learning situations.

Psychologist at University of Jena uncovers strong variability in motivation in learning situations: In the current issue of the journal ‘Learning & Instruction’ Dr Julia Dietrich of Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) published her findings together with Jaana Viljaranta (University of Eastern Finland), Julia Moeller (Yale University) and Bärbel Kracke (FSU) on students’ expectations and efforts.

Motivation can be a fickle thing — if we are motivated, we can achieve a great deal, but if motivation is lacking, we are easily overwhelmed. And we all know people who give the impression of being highly motivated all the time, while others seem to be chronically lacking in drive.

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How Learning in the Present Shapes Future Learning

A new study reveals how neurons in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampal neurons work together to help guide future learning.

Neurons in the prefrontal cortex “teach” neurons in the hippocampus to “learn” rules that distinguish memory-based predictions in otherwise identical situations, suggesting that learning in the present helps guide learning in the future, according to research conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published April 5 in the journal Neuron.

The study, led by Matthew Shapiro, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, investigated memory flexibility and interference, the mechanisms by which the brain interprets events and anticipates their likely outcomes. The hippocampus is a temporal lobe brain structure needed for remembering recent events: for example, where you ate your last meal. The prefrontal cortex is where the brain uses context to switch flexibility between remembered rules, such as knowing to look left before crossing a street in North America but right before crossing in Britain. Without such rules, memories interfere with one another and predictions based on memory are inaccurate.

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The Cultural Context of Cognition

This article employs evidence from a literature within social psychology on the malleability of scores on the Implicit Association Test (IAT), a measure that is widely used to assess implicit attitudes, and other implicit cognition measures, to provide a theoretical framework for incorporating implicit processes into sociological accounts of culture. Studies from this literature demonstrate the fundamentally contextual and interactional nature of implicit cognition; that is, how the cultural environment shapes the activation of cognitive associations. Understanding how culture works to influence behavior requires attention to the interaction between the cultural environment — including symbols and media, place, situations, and networks—and cognitive representations. Using this theoretical framework, I discuss how evidence from the sociology of culture regarding the nature of this cultural environment can inform our understanding of culture in action.

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A Natural History of Human Thinking

Tool-making or culture, language or religious belief: ever since Darwin, thinkers have struggled to identify what fundamentally differentiates human beings from other animals. Michael Tomasello weaves his twenty years of comparative studies of humans and great apes into a compelling argument that cooperative social interaction is the key to our cognitive uniqueness. Tomasello maintains that our prehuman ancestors, like today’s great apes, were social beings who could solve problems by thinking. But they were almost entirely competitive, aiming only at their individual goals. As ecological changes forced them into more cooperative living arrangements, early humans had to coordinate their actions and communicate their thoughts with collaborative partners. Tomasello’s “shared intentionality hypothesis” captures how these more socially complex forms of life led to more conceptually complex forms of thinking. In order to survive, humans had to learn to see the world from multiple social perspectives, to draw socially recursive inferences, and to monitor their own thinking via the normative standards of the group. Even language and culture arose from the preexisting need to work together and coordinate thoughts. A Natural History of Human Thinking is the most detailed scientific analysis to date of the connection between human sociality and cognition.

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