Listening and Empowering
Listening to, and empowering young people is a duty when developing science for and with young people. However it is also an opportunity. This is a key idea in the children as change agency model. Building ways to engage children in different ways is a responsibility, both in the context of legal frameworks, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 12, and if we are to meet the global challenges of the 21st century outlined above. It is also, a way in which professionals working with children empower themselves in their own work.
We produced a guide targeted in particular at three categories of professionals who are ‘the change makers’ on the day to day level:
- organisers of science in society activities
- facilitators of science in society activities
- scientists involved in science in society activities
It has 4 modules:
From science to empowerment
Communicating in science is a matter of recreating a meaning for scientific knowledge in a context different from the one in which it was produced. This module contains exercises and principles to support scientists in communicating with children in empowering and engaging ways.
From engagement to governance
Educators, museum explainers, teachers… are “listening to” the children all the time. It is a different challenge to include children in the governance of a project or enable them to contribute meaningfully to the decisions regarding an institution’s life. This module looks at methods of integrating children into how organisations are managed and led.
Self-reflection is the core of change-agency work.
The Dialogical approach
Underpinning the practical techniques to listen and empower children there has to be a philosophical base. This module is based on Paulo Freire’s ideas of education in which teacher and student are subject of the action of learning. It consists of a set of exercises which deconstruct some of the deep-rooted assumptions regarding the teacher:student relationship. This process encourages practitioners to question what education is, and encourages them to see it as a process of collective and continuous formation.
The contribution of the SiS Catalyst project here is not to offer a rigid blueprint of training modules that should be replicated the world over. It is to present a set of flexible tools that can practitioners in different contexts and countries can draw upon in their own way to support their own change journey, and that of the students they work with.