Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Exploring the Aspirations of Kolkatan (Calcuttan) Street Children Living on and off the Streets Using Drawings

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Exploring the Aspirations of Kolkatan (Calcuttan) Street Children Living on and off the Streets Using Drawings

Article excerpt

Psychologists have long been interested in the type of people children want to grow up to be and the careers they want to have (see Teigen, Engdal, Bj0rkheim & Heiland, 2000, for review). Most recent studies in the area have concerned children and adolescents in school settings (Bromnick & Swallow, 1999; Gash & Conway, 1997; Kelly, 1989; Simmons & Wade, 1985). The results from these studies revealed ideals, which were grouped into categories such as sports figure, actor/entertainer, pop star (Bromnick & Swallow), as well as figures from politics, religion, and the community (Gash & Conway). Gash and Conway also inquired as to the personalities and attributes of these ideal people. These were factor analysed into categories "heroic-good", "brave-warrior", "rich glamorous musician", "sports star", and "antihero or antiheroine". This "Heroes and Heroines" approach, however, is just one method, which has been applied in trying to answer the question.

A distinct but related approach to investigating children's ideals looks at their career aspirations. For example, Lee (1984) explored children's reports of their most desired job. The issues in this area relate to the influences on career choice (Lee; Marjoribanks, 1984, 1985; Rainey & Borders, 1997; Chen & Lan, 1998) as well as the distinction between "ideal" and "realistic" career aspirations (Kelly, 1989; Watson, Quatman & Edler, 2002). The types of careers typically reported here include Teacher, Nursery Nurse, and Hairdresser among girls and Engineer and Armed Forces among boys (Kelly). Kelly also includes analysis of the socio-economic status (SES) of the occupations reported. The SES categories are taken from the British classification of occupations (Office of Population, Censuses and Surveys, 1970).

A number of studies have taken this interest in ideals and career aspirations and explored the reports of children living in challenging situtations, most noticalbly children living on the street in countries around the world. Baker, Panter-Brick, and Todd (1996) conducted research with street children in Nepal. One 13-year-old rag-picker expressed uncertainty and fear for his future (Baker et al.). Others had found daily paid work, including butchery and playing in a wedding band, and were more optimistic about their futures (p. 186). Raffaelli and Koller (2005) examine future expectations of Brasilian street children. DiCarlo Gibbons, Kaminsky, Wright, and Stiles (2000) report drawings of doctors, lawyers, carpenters, and dancers by street children in Honduras.

The most common methodology employed in these studies is questionnaires and these have generally asked about specific individuals. Simmons and Wade (1985) argued that young people can express their ideals best by personifying them, and that they frequently idolise and are influenced by significant others. However, Baker et al. (1996) suggest that this approach has shortcomings that include the authoritative stance of the researcher, the inappropriateness of questions to children's experiences, and susceptibility of the method to children's manipulation of the information.

In looking for alternative methods, DiCarlo et al. (2000) used drawings to investigate the aspirations of street children in Honduras, suggesting that standardised tests fail to reveal the strengths and resourcefulness of street children. Drawing is commonly used in other areas of psychological research because of the popularity of the activity among children (Thomas & Jolley, 1998), because it is typically perceived as fun and nonthreatening, unlike most testing situations (Rubin, 1984), and because it does not require literacy and verbal skills (DiCarlo et al., 2000). Furthermore, since drawings avoid the difficulties of translation, the method can be used in cross-cultural research. The potential to combine research into children's ideals with drawing as a research tool was first explored by Stiles, Gibbons, Lie, Sand, and Krull (1998) and DiCarlo et al used a system of analysis devised by Stiles and Gibbons (2000). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.