Levelling the playing fields in PAR: The intricacies of power, privilege and participation in a community school project
Professor Lesley Wood, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa and Dr Mary McAteer, Edge Hill University
Sustainable learning and the attainment of collaboratively negotiated outcomes requires the establishment of research relationships based on open communication and democratic engagement (Chevalier & Buckles, 2013). Yet, inherent power relations still tend to divide academics and community into the researchers and researched, the powerful and powerless (Nhamo, 2012). In this presentation, we share our learning about how such divisions can be minimized through a participatory action research approach to working with community members whose thinking, attitudes and responses have been shaped by ongoing socio-historical oppression and disadvantage. We base our insights on a qualitative analysis of visual and textual data generated in a two-day start up workshop for a project aimed at improving parental collaboration with schools. Findings indicate that, while the flattening of power relations is an ongoing and complex task, specific strategies can be used to “level the playing fields and negotiate the intricacies of power, privilege and participation.
Professor Lesley Wood is a research professor in the Faculty of Education Sciences at North-West University, Potchefstroom, and Dr Mary McAteer runs the Specialist Primary Mathematics Practice Programmes at Edge Hill University. This seminar focuses on a research project in which they have collaborated, funded by the British Academy Newton Fellowship, that seeks to enable teachers and teaching assistants from a peri-urban, impoverished community work together in developing a training programme to help parents to better support their children with their schoolwork.
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