Generative listening: Using arts-based inquiry to investigate young children’s perspectives of inclusion, exclusion and disability

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While the importance of inclusive approaches to research has been identified, much childhood research is still done ‘to’ not ‘with’ young children, with research focusing on the experiences of children who experience disability commonly involving data from parents/families/practitioners, rather than from children themselves. In this article, we explore the development of an arts-based research project involving young children who experience disability as active participants in an exploration of their perspectives on inclusive education. Accordingly, we ruminate on questions about how we can genuinely ‘listen’ to children who experience disability in an aesthetic and ethical manner, and how we can use artistic ways of knowing to engage in meaning-making with children. Using arts-based research as an aesthetic framework alongside insights from critical pedagogy as a theoretical framework, we explore ‘aesthetic’ approaches to being, teaching, researching and knowing. As a team of researchers who do and do not experience disability, we share reflections on arts-based methodologies informed by critical approaches to conceptualising disability and research. As artistic modes of expression are central to young children’s everyday lives and play and can create enjoyable and safe communicative spaces, we share dialogues, artwork and methodological reflections on opportunities for children to choose ways of interacting and communicating, allowing possibilities for agency, expression and creativity. Specifically, we conceptualise and concentrate on possibilities for using arts to foster ‘listening’, meaning-making and generative or transformative praxis, in order to explore how arts-based research can be a powerful, authentic, ethical and meaningful provocateur for listening ‘generatively’ to young children who experience disability in research.




Cologon, K., Cologon, T., Mevawalla, Z., & Niland, A. (2019). Generative listening: Using arts-based inquiry to investigate young children’s perspectives of inclusion, exclusion and disability. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 17(1), 54–69.

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