Respecting the child’s voice.
Promoting tolerance and respect is an integral part of the project. By foregrounding the voice of the child, the project highlights that there are many different perspectives, but that as adults, we need to remove ourselves in order to allow the children to engage with the past in their own way.
WHOSE TRUTH IS IT?
The project challenges stereotypes and received myths. The openness of the project presents challenges for some participants and the children’s desire to probe and investigate aspects of history that may be perceived as ‘sensitive’ or ‘out-of-bounds’. Through this work we are challenging the culture of silence, by encouraging adults to step back and set aside the stereotypes so that the children can be uninhibited in their historical explorations.
Kids’ Own supports an open-ended way of working, allowing children, teachers, writer and artist to uncover material and ideas that they might not otherwise encounter. Particularly at the beginning of the research phase, the project, the artist and writer would hear teachers saying: “I wasn’t sure if we were going the right direction.” Or “I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing.”
Often this preceded a breakthrough where the children and teacher pushed beyond their existing expectations and discovered a really exciting avenue for further research.
Children empowered as researchers.
Within the educational context, the children are leading a research process, which is focused around open discussion, creative activity with a professional artist and writer, and with a specific focus on the events that are being commemorated through the decade of commemorations.
Phase 1 as a research phase
The whole idea of a creative project with a phase devoted to research was a challenge in itself. While artwork and writing were very important for the children, helping them to record and respond to information in their own way, the artist and writer encouraged the teachers to hold back on the creative interpretation of the work. The intention was to allow time for the project to delve more deeply into that period in history and time for the children to digest information more fully.
Building a framework
Within the project, children are the creators of the work and part of Phase 1 was about building a framework in order to allow that to happen. Meaningful and lasting cross-border links have been established, and will continue to be forged and strengthened, through this project. The project involves a network of 12 schools – 6 north and 6 south – and, through regular meetings throughout the project, we are encouraging the teachers to engage in a wider conversation about history – and to look at it from new perspectives. The project is strongly supported by the interagency partnership between Kids’ Own, Kilkenny Education Centre (on behalf of the Association of Teacher Education Centres in Ireland) and Belfast Education & Library Board.