Hart's Ladder of Participation

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Critically analyse Hart’s Ladder of Participation.
What are the types of decisions children and young people can be involved in, and what is the link between the children and the adults when the participatory approach is put into practice? When should adults be more active in guiding children, and when should they step back and allow the children to work autonomously? Roger Hart (1992) developed a model, the Ladder of participation, which is made up from eight steps, each step indicate increasing degrees of pupil participation and dissimilar forms of cooperation with adults. The three lowest steps on the ladder of participation are called the “non-participation” steps , and they strongly state that many projects claiming to engage children could be characterised as non-participation rather than as belonging to the higher steps on the ladder or what he calls “real participation’’. Under the category of non participation there are 3 subcategories. Manipulation which is the lowest rung in the ladder of participation which states that children do as directed without understanding of purpose for the activities. Secondly is decoration where children understand the purpose but have no input in how they are planned. Last at the non participation category, Tokenism, shows an increase in participation where children may be consulted with minimal opportunities for feedback. Moving on to the category of the degree of participation we are faced with rung 4 which is called assigned, but informed. At this rung adults led the activities but children understand the purpose having a decision-making process and a role. As you move on, on the ladder, you will come across rung 5 which is the consulted and informed face which states that youth are consulted and informed about how their input will be used and the outcomes of adult decisions. As I stated, as you go up the ladder the degree of participation increases. At rung 6 at the activities, decision making is shared with youth, this is called the adult initiated shared decision with youth step. Moving on, the last two steps have a higher degree of participation. The youth initiated and directed step states that children decide about the activities with little input from adults. Lastly at the eighth step which is called youth initiated shared decisions with adults, there is a child-led activity however decision making is shared between youth and adults and they both work as equal partners. At this step children participation is at its highest degree. The term ‘participation’ refers to the process of sharing decisions which affect one’s life and the life of the society in which one lives. Participation is the essential right of citizenship. The degree to which children should have a voice in anything is a debatable issue. Recently it has been recognized that children have (and can express) dissimilar concerns, needs and aspirations from those of their parents. This being the case, it cannot be said that children’s best interest is served when you approach youth through adults. The Comprehension that the interests of children may be at variance from those of adults, including parents, leads us to think also about the scenery of power relations among the young and their elders. Although childhood and adult-child relationships are clearly construed and experienced in a broad variety of ways across the globe, it appears a widespread fact that children usually benefit from less social power than adults (Boyden, 1997). However, since children’s interests differ from those of adults, how will their powerlessness help them protect and serve their interests? Undoubtedly this is simply a question of 'children getting their own way' at the expense of adults. The physical and sexual abuse of children surrounded by the home, school, workplace and wider society are at their extreme the negative consequences of such power inequality. (Hearn, 1989, Kitzinger, 1997). Programmes that enable children to...
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