04 SES 07 F, From The Eyes Of Children: Young Students Perspectives On Peers And Inclusion
In recent years, international policy directives have highlighted children’s rights and the need for schools and communities to enact principles of inclusion (UN, 2006; UNESCO, 2015), However, education researchers have noted the difficulty of developing inclusive practices because of the challenge of agreeing an interpretation of inclusion that can be recognised by the diverse individuals who enact or experience it (e.g. Whitburn 2016). In response, this project sought to highlight the complexities and challenges that ‘inclusive practice’ presents by foregrounding the often-unheard views and experiences of children (Dunne, Hallett, Kay and Woolhouse, 2018; Nind, Boorman and Clarke, 2012; Slee, 2011).
This presentation will share the results of an ongoing investigation which utilises visual methodology to explore perspectives, particularly those of children and young people, regarding children’s rights (UNESCO, 2015) to consider different understandings of how policy regarding inclusive education are experienced. The project began in 2014 when children in schools in England were given single-use cameras and asked to take pictures that, for them, represented inclusion or exclusion. The resulting images were cartoonised and then shared with other children and teachers within school workshops, and with the general public in a blog and an exhibition at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool. Our intention, here, was to counter dominant stories by encouraging members of the general public to engage with the often-unheard views of children.
Such an approach can provide space for children to ‘have their say’ and can build a more complex picture of the perspectives around inclusion from those it might affect (Dunne, et. al, 2017, 2018; Todd, 2012). The aim of using photographs was to develop a participatory process that could actively engage children by providing ethical opportunities for self-expression that could educate researchers and practitioners with regard to children’s wisdom (Woolhouse, 2019).
As such, in order to explore notions and ideologies of inclusion in greater depth, photo-elicitation, as one form of visual research methodology, was used to offer a space for the expression of broader understandings of what it is to be ‘included’ or ‘excluded’ and to elicit conceptualisations of ‘community, social capital, equality and respect’. Some of these images were presented at ECER 2018 and have been published in peer reviewed journal articles.
The research team are now using a wider range of images in schools in order to further explore how other children and young people respond to the pictures in order to design a training resource for Special Educational Needs Coordinators. The value of using photographs in this context is that they can prick the conscience of the viewer, inviting them to reflect on what they think and do. In making an analysis of the original photographs, Barthes’ (1980) conceptualizations of studium (the element that creates interest in a photographic image) and punctum (the element that jumps out at the viewer from within a photograph) were utilized.
While photo-elicitation with children is not without its challenges, it provides a route for accessing and sharing varied voices, some of which are often deprived of a platform, to prompt broader debates about identity and belonging. This research demonstrates how comments made about the photographs were sometimes contradictory and thought provoking, which indicates children’s ability to go beyond the expectations of teachers and researchers.
Methodology Phase 1 The first stage of data collection involved workshops in schools and colleges. During each workshop, a selection of photographs were displayed on a screen and as hand-outs, and it was explained that these images were created by children and young people to represent inclusion or exclusion. Following an explanation of the research, participants were invited to engage in group discussion about the photographs, following some prompt questions including: • Do the images represent inclusion or exclusion? Why? • Has anything been left out of the photograph? What would you add? • What questions do the images encourage you to ask? • Having talked about the image have you changed your mind about inclusion? The views of the initial photographers were shared at the end of each workshop in order to reduce any influence that they may have had on responses. In taking this approach to data collection, the aim was to create non-judgemental arenas where those commenting on the photographs can explore contrasting perspectives and reflect upon their own interpretations of inclusion and exclusion. In this regard, the aim was to invite a dialogue through which to explore multiple viewpoints and understandings of a contested concept. Methodology Phase 2 The second phase of this project involved children and young people from the same schools designing training materials for Special Educational Needs Coordinators. This evolved from an open invitation to design the materials in any way that each child felt appropriate.
Photo-elicitation methodology provided a helpful and insightful analytical tool to explore the complex and often contradictory ways in which ‘inclusion’ is experienced, interpreted and understood. The possibility that interpretations of inclusion depend upon personal situated-ness is evidenced by the range of responses to the photographs, highlighting the challenge of determining what constitutes inclusive practice. The diverse responses received in reaction to the images indicate that it is difficult to frame inclusion and exclusion as dichotomous or even on a continuum. Rather, whether particular spaces or practices are inclusive or not, very much depends on who is experiencing them, who is witnessing them, the experiential lens being used and cultural understandings held. To our knowledge, this is the first time that children and young people have been invited to design training materials for Special Educational Needs Coordinators.
Allen, L. (2011) Picture This: Using Photo-methods in Reach on Sexuality and Schooling Qualitative Research Journal 11 (5): 487–504. Allan, J. & Catts, R. (2014) Schools, Social Capital and Space, Cambridge Journal of Education 44 (2): 217–228. Armstrong, F. (2012) Landscapes, Spatial Justice and Learning Communities. International Journal of Inclusive Education 16 (5–6): 609–626. Barthes, R. (1980) Camera Lucida: Reflections on photography. trans. Richard Howard, New York: Hill and Wang. Boxall, K., and S. Ralph. (2009) Research Ethics and the use of Visual Images in Research with People with Intellectual Disability Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability 34 (1): 45–54. Dunne, L., Hallett, F., Kay, V. & Woolhouse, C (2018) Spaces of Inclusion: Investigating place, positioning and perspective within educational settings through photo-elicitation. International Journal of Inclusive Education. 22(1). pp.21-37 Dunne, L., Hallett, F., Kay, V. and Woolhouse, C. (2017) Visualising Inclusion: Employing a photo-elicitation methodology to explore views of inclusive education, SAGE Research Methods Cases. Part 2. http://methods.sagepub.com /case/visualizing-inclusion-photo-elicitation-methodology-inclusive-education Hodkinson, A. (2012) All Present and Correct?’ Exclusionary Inclusion within the English Educational System. Disability & Society 27 (5): 675–688. Nind, M., G. Boorman, and G. Clarke. (2012) Creating Spaces to Belong: Listening to the Voice of Girls with Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties Through Digital Visual and Narrative Methods. International Journal of Inclusive Education 16 (7): 643–656. Slee, R. (2011) The Irregular School: Exclusion, Schooling and Inclusive Education, London, Routledge. Todd, L. (2012). Critical dialogue, critical methodology: bridging the research gap to young people's participation in evaluating children's services. Children's Geographies, 10 (2), pp.187-200. United Nations (UN). 2006. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. UNESCO. 2015. The Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Whitburn, B. 2016. Voice, post-structural representation and the subjectivity of ‘included’ students, International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 39 (2) pp. 117-130. Woolhouse, C. (2019) Research in Special Education (RISE) project’ in Atkins, L. and Duckworth, V. Research methods for social justice and equity in education, London, Bloomsbury Research Methods for Education. Woolhouse, C., Dunne, L., Hallett, F., and Kay, V. (2017) Perceptions of inclusion. Inclusion Now. Published by Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), Spring 2017 (46): 9-11. http://www.allfie.org.uk/blog/what-does-inclusion-look-like/
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