The project aims to work with a child-led, independent, but school-based arts studio called Room 13. We aim to explore ways of drawing on current innovative practices developed by children and artists involved to enhance research capabilities in order to better document their processes and to enable them to make links between Room 13, the co-productive processes involved and outcomes by and for children. This would be an early exploratory phase to feed into a larger grant proposal that we will subsequently develop. This phase is necessary in order that we can work together with Room13 to build research capacity and skills and our own knowledge and expertise, to share our different literatures, traditions and histories and to establish some baseline methods for how practitioners and children can develop research awareness and document their activities.
Room13 Hareclive is located in the grounds of Hareclive Academy (Primary) in Hartcliffe, South Bristol. Room13 is an international network of independent art studios in countries including England, Scotland, India, Nepal and South Africa. Uniquely the Room 13 studios are run by children for children. Room13 Hareclive is one of the oldest and most established studios in the world. I have been working with Room13 children (aged 9-11 years) and artists, a colleague in the Graduate School of Education, Dr Helen Manchester, and St Pauls Nursery and Children’s Centre to explore ways of enhancing research capabilities in order to enable children to narrate the experiences and skills they have gained in the studio.
To co-develop processes of participatory observation, note taking and curation using photographs and videos of children’s engagements with children and artists.
The project so far
We carried out five participatory workshops between May and July 2015 which involved children and adults together learning observation and documentation methods and researching what nursery aged children are learning and doing as well as what primary aged children in the Room13 studio are engaged in. We all kept research journals, took photos and planned activities between us. In particular the children identified how we could use ‘learning disposition’ words from the nursery.
We plan to develop these methods into techniques in the studio to possibly include a thinking question board that everyone contributes to; helping children tell ‘learning stories’ of their time in Room13 and conducting transition interviews with year 6 children to enable them to tell their story of engaging in Room13. All of this will involve collating photos, art works, stories and reflections from children, artists and researchers working together.
We are exploring funding opportunities to extend this work and deepen understanding of how the arts contribute to children’s learning and wellbeing and how being engaged as co-researchers also enables better educational outcomes for children.
Funder: FSSL Strategic Initiative Funding, UoB