Understanding children's perspectives: Sixth graders talk about their art
This exploratory study investigates children's perspectives on artistic representation. Unstructured weekly interviews with a group of sixth graders for ten weeks allowed for a negotiated and shared understanding of children's views. The talk of the children, in relation to a collection of each child's drawings, constitute the primary data for the study. Analysis of interview data suggests three primary themes: categories for understanding, a children's world, and children's talk about art.
The children's categories for thinking about ideas and events appear to be flexible and tentative, and to allow for variation and subdivisions. The children's conversations suggest a distinct point of view that is different from an adult view and that there exists a child's world distinct in rules and behaviors from an adult's world. Data suggest that children view adults as serious, responsible, and as having certain expectations for children, and that choosing when they will adopt more adultlike conventions seems to give children some sense of power in an otherwise adult-controlled world.
The children's views on artistic representation appear to be shaped by their membership in a child's world. Their talk suggests that children may interpret changes in their drawings through time in terms of their acquiring concerns or characteristics that they associate with adults. From the children's perspectives, their drawings also change because children learn from their peers, their home environment, their experiences in the world, and their own dedication to art, in addition to their schooling.
Findings suggest that adults, in working with children, need to recognize that there appears to exist a children's world that has rules and behaviors that seem distinct from those in the adult world and that their adult perspective is an alternative view rather than a correct view. Instructional implications include listening more to the voices of children and moving toward a more democratic consideration of their ideas and of their views of learning; and recognizing and encouraging students' art learning from both working with and dialoguing with peers within a variety of contexts, including and beyond the school environment. Methodological implications support the importance of researchers engaging in dialogue with children and further investigating children's perspectives.
EDUCATION, ART (0273); EDUCATION, ELEMENTARY (0524)
Christine Anne Mulcahey,
"Understanding children's perspectives: Sixth graders talk about their art"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).