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Participation and materiality: the role of mediating artifacts in children’s participation Alison Clark, Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies, The Open.

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Presentation on theme: "Participation and materiality: the role of mediating artifacts in children’s participation Alison Clark, Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies, The Open."— Presentation transcript:

1 Participation and materiality: the role of mediating artifacts in children’s participation Alison Clark, Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

2 General Comment on Early Childhood ‘Young children are acutely sensitive to their surroundings and very rapidly acquire understandings of the people, places and routines in their lives, along with awareness of their own unique identity. They make choices and communicate their feelings, ideas and wishes in numerous ways, long before they are able to communicate through the conventions of spoken or written language.’ (United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, United Nations children Fund and the Bernard van Leer Foundation 2006: 40-41).

3 Aims Explore the relationship between participation and materiality using a historical case study Investigate the role of mediating artifacts in understanding participation Reflect on research methods for understanding and promoting embedded participation

4 Participation and materiality Abstract participation Contextualised Decontextualised EmbodiedDisembodied Embedded in routine Parachuted in Rooted in the everyday One –off ‘Me and my world’ Generic

5

6 Peckham Health Centre conditions The building The health overhauls and consultations The family and local membership The financial contributions of the families The careful maintenance of a ‘strict anarchy’

7 Participation and materiality Spaces and places People Practices Objects

8 Spaces and places

9 ‘An oasis of glass in a desert of brick’ (copyright cambridge2000.com)

10 Peckham Health Centre pool Built (copyright cambridge2000.com) Peckham Health Centre pool Built

11 People and practices

12 ‘You may think in describing anarchism as a theory of organisation I am propounding a deliberate paradox: "anarchy" you may consider to be, by definition, the opposite of organisation. In fact, however, "anarchy" means the absence of government, the absence of authority.’ Colin Ward (1966) Anarchism as a theory of organisation in Patterns of Anarchy. A collection of writings on the anarchist tradition, edited by Leonard I. Krimerman and Lewis Perry, Anchor Books, New York, 1966.

13 Practices and objects ‘…..the 36 pairs of booted roller skates of different sizes stand ranged in their appropriate pigeon holes, each hole labelled with the size of boot. The child finds his own size skates, takes them and deposits the ticket and his own shoes in the vacant hole. When each child finishes skating he takes his own shoes out of the pigeon hole, returns the skates and puts the ticket in the box placed for the purpose. Each bicycle, scooter, shinty stick and puck, racquet, book, jigsaw puzzle, game of draughts, chess or dominoes, billiard cue and ball, sewing and drawing materials, an old typewriter etc, etc, is in its own properly designed niche’. (Crocker, 1943: 197 cited by Stallibrass, 1989: 50). See for further resourceswww.thephf.org

14 Objects ‘..they made the cots for the crèche that would be part of the centre, they made them not with high sides to deliberately imprison the babies and stop them getting out and crawling off, they made them with sides as low as possible so that when the babies felt strong enough, vital enough, to want of their own accord to get out and crawl off, they got out and crawled off. This was empowering babies.’ Leila Berg, International Child and Youth Care Network, 2005).

15 Artefacts Spontaneous participation Staff Distribution of power Rules and routines Children and families Peckham Health Centre case study

16 Children and families Spontaneous participation Mediating artefacts and mediating environment

17 Participation and materiality What research methods will make this relationship visible? The role of observation in day to day practice and in research The role of visual methods and visual, participatory methods, for example the Mosaic approach (Clark and Moss, 2001/2011; Clark, 2010)

18 Mosaic approach Alison Clark and Peter Moss (for example 2001/2011; 2005) Brings together different pieces or perspectives in order to create an image of children’s worlds, both individual and shared. Combines traditional methods of observing and interviewing with participatory methods in which children play a direct role in gathering and discussing data This constructivist approach places research participants as co-constructors of meanings.

19 Living Spaces Planning, designing and developing indoor and outdoor provision with young children July 2004-June 2007 Thomas Coram Research Unit Funders: Bernard van Leer Foundation Clark, A. (2010) Transforming children’s spaces: children’s and adults’ involvement in designing learning environments. London: Routledge.

20 Shared narratives

21 Selected Publications Clark, A. and Moss, P. (2001/2011) Listening to young children: the Mosaic approach. London: National Children’s Bureau. Clark, A. (2010) Transforming children’s spaces: children’s and adults’ involvement in designing learning environments. London: Routledge. Clark, A. (2011) Breaking methodological boundaries? Exploring visual, participatory methods with adults and young children. Children’s perspectives and participation in research. Special Issue. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 19 (3) September, Clark, A. (2011) ‘In-between’ spaces in postwar primary schools: a micro-study of a ‘welfare room’ ( ) History of Education, 39, 6, November, Check is right in each place Clark, A. (2010) Transforming children’s spaces: children’s and adults’ involvement in designing learning environments. London: Routledge. Contact:


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