07 SES 01 A, Portugese Research into Social Justice and Intercultural Education
This paper analyses young adults’ participation with voice in semi-disadvantaged schools in a semi-disadvantaged region of Portugal. Following the European concern about youth participation, expressed for example in the White Paper a new impetus for European youth (COM, 2001), the paper addresses the questions: ‘How young adults perceive the provision of spaces by schools to enhance their participation with voice?’, “Is there a just provision?”. It takes into account the need to “bridge the gap between young people’s eagerness to express their opinions and the methods and structures which society offers” as a situation that “might fuel the ‘citizenship’ deficit” (ibid.:10).
The first part discusses theoretically the concepts of participation with voice as complementarily notions central to the study. The second builds on young adults’ direct speech about their experience (or lack of experience) of participation with voice in their schools on the basis of consultation to young women and men with different school performance. The main arguments are that schools have an important role in providing space for participation with voice and that the lack it jeopardizes both young adults current and future citizenship and the construction of a more just democracy on the basis of intercultural recognition.
Voice is a very complex notion whose discussion has been marked by the milestone work of Bernstein (1990, 1996), and by the pro-voice movement in the UK, within which the work of Arnot (2006, 2009) stands out, in more recent years (Flutter & Rudduck, 2004 and Fonseca, 2009 are also to be higlighted). In this paper, voice is used as expression (the possibility to be heard and make a difference), legitimacy (the possibility to have your story, experience and knowledge recognized) and action (the possibility to intervene in the surrounding world (Macedo, 2009, 2012).
The debate on youth participation has been taking place since the 1960-70s and in particular in the last three decades. Within the wide range of theoretical production in this area, concerning participation, this paper builds on the work of Hart (1992, 1997) and the simplification of Hart’s proposal by Flutter & Rudduck (2004), to focus on Kirby, Lanyon, Cronin & Sinclair (2003) non-hierarchical model. Hart proposed a “ladder of young people’s participation” at different levels in schools, which include manipulation, decoration or tokenism (non-participation), being informed and being consulted, sharing decisions of adult initiative, moving to leading and initiate and sharing decision-making, which brings participation closer to voice. In simplifying Hart’s proposal, Flutter & Rudduck set out four still hierarchical levels of participation, which include young people not being consulted or being heard without being taken into account; to young people actively participating in decision making and as researchers in school, even if within structures defined by adults. At the highest level, they place the rare situations in which children participate actively and fully as co-researchers in the definition of school courses, intervening in the definition of the terms of school structure and learning. While the early levels can be aggregated on an axis between non-participation and strongly regulated participation, higher levels indicate the construction of what could be called self-signified participation, in which voice increasingly takes place.
In turn, Kirby et al (2003) propose a non-hierarchical model of participation that equates since the situations in which young adults’ views are taken into account by adults, to their participation with adults in decision-making, to sharing power and responsibility in decision making, and the autonomous decision-making processes. Young voices may be more or less present in these modalities of participation which can be present simultaneously in different situations of students’ daily school lives.
Arnot, Madeleine (2006). Gender voices in the classroom. In Christine Skelton, Becky Francis, Lisa Smulyan (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Gender and Education (pp. 407-421). London: Sage. Arnot, Madeleine (2009). Educating the gendered citizen: Sociological engagements with national and global agendas. London: Routledge. Bernstein, Basil (1990). The structure of pedagogic discourse. London: Routledge. Bernstein, Basil (1996). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: Theory, research and critique. Bristol: Taylor & Francis. COM (2001) (European Commission). White Paper a new impetus for European youth. http://ec.europa.eu/youth/archive/whitepaper/download/whitepaper_en.pdf Ferreira, Manuela (2004). “A gente gosta é de brincar com os outros meninos!” Relações sociais entre crianças num jardim de infância. Porto: Afrontamento. Flutter, Julia & Rudduck, Jean (2004). Consulting pupils: What‟s in it for schools? London & New York: RoutledgeFalmer. Fonseca, Laura (2009). Justiça social e educação: Vozes silêncios e ruídos na educação escolar das raparigas. Porto: Afrontamento. Hart, Roger (1992). Children‟s participation: From tokenism to citizenship. Florence: UNICEF International Child Development Centre. Hart, Roger (1997). Children‟s participation: The theory and practice of involving young citizens in community development and environmental care. London: Earthscan Publications. Kirby, Perpetua, Lanyon, Claire, Cronin, Kathleen & Sinclair, Ruth (2003). Building a culture of participation. London: Department for Education and Skills, National Children‟s Bureau. Macedo, Eunice (2009). Cidadania em confronto: Educação de elites em tempo de globalização. Porto: CIIE/Livpsic. Macedo, E. (2012). School rankings on the other hand: Possibilities of young adult citizenship in the tension of educational and social change. FPCEUP.
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