Academic journal article Language Arts

Co-Researching with and among Children and Youth

Academic journal article Language Arts

Co-Researching with and among Children and Youth

Article excerpt

The theme for this issue, Kids as Research- ers, invites readers to consider the impact and insight children bring to their learn- ing when they have opportunities to engage in research-to ask their own questions, to gather data for those questions, and to analyze the data. When inquiry is central to the curriculum and when children and youth have agency in designing and implementing research methods, they can critically read the world around them, taking up what Freire calls "praxis." Nadjwa Norton from City College, CUNY, and Heather Oesterreich from New Mexico State University discuss how they got started with children as co-researcher methodologies and the challenges and tensions in this work.

Nadjwa E. L. Norton is an associate profes- sor in the Transformative Literacy Program at City College, CUNY. She received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, and has been an educator for over 20 years. Her research and scholarship have centered around culturally relevant pedagogy, critical literacies, spiritualities in education, and Black and Latina/o college-going processes. In addition to being a professor, Dr. Nor- ton currently works as an educational consultant for early childhood programs and charter schools. Her work in the field has included designing cur- riculum, assessing programs and teachers, program design, designing and implementing professional development, and library resource acquisition.

Heather Oesterreich is an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education at New Mexico State University. Her areas of specialization are social justice and equity; feminist critical curriculum, pedagogy, and research; youth and secondary education; teacher education; and alternative education. Dr. Oesterreich has published in journals such as Journal of Curriculum Studies (2013), Teachers College Record (2009), and Multicultural Education (2010).

This excerpted conversation was recorded on December 9, 2013, and has been edited for publication. The full conversation is available as a podcast at /podcasts.

Language Arts: This is a conversation with Nadjwa Norton and Heather Oesterreich (pronounced ay-strike). We'd like to ask you two to talk a little bit about how you got started with considering children as co-teachers in your work. Nadjwa, why don't we start with you?

Nadjwa Norton: Okay. I would say my official research methodology got started when I was in graduate school. I was working with a professor who was very interested in considering youth and youth voices, and that connected with my notions of who youth were in some of my past work. As a graduate student, I worked on a research team with youth as co-researchers- using co-methodologies-and we were working on studying Black and Latino/a college-bound identities of ninth-graders and their college- bound processes. We did a lot of reading around youth-centered methodologies, did a lot of talking about What does it mean to involve youth? What does it mean as we reconsider our positionalities as adults working with youth? What does it mean as we think about learning from youth and learning with youth over time? We had a series of conversations involving our college-level co-researchers as well as our high school student co-researchers.

Heather Oesterreich: I was also a part of that research team, so we come from a similar history. But I think what is interesting, Nadjwa, is that we both came to the research with a lens and a view about who kids are and their posi- tionality of having things to bring to the conver- sation. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I think the notion of inquiry was always at the basis of all the work that we ever did with kids. I came to co-researching before I even had a name for it. In my classroom, I was work- ing with kids who had been marginalized, had been suspended or expelled from school, and without really knowing that there were state- ments of the problem in the context of research, I recognized those problems. …

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