Participation and Learning

pp 19-31

Stepping Back from ‘The Ladder’: Refl ections on a Model of Participatory Work with Children

  • Roger A. HartAffiliated withCenter for Human Environments, Graduate Center, The City University of New York

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It is with some reticence that I write these comments on the ‘the ladder of children’s participation’ for this metaphor was introduced by me long ago in order to problematise an issue that now has a significant body of practice and critical reflection. But my colleagues, the editors of this volume, suggested that because the ladder is still used a great deal as a model it might be useful to stand back and make a few comments about the ways it has been interpreted. The ladder probably drew so much attention because when it was first published in Children’s Participation: From Tokenism to Citizenship by UNICEF in 1992, there was very little written of a conceptual nature on the theme of children’s participation in their programmes, projects, or organisations. The book was simply meant to stimulate a dialogue on a theme that needed to be addressed critically. But many people have chosen to use the ladder as a comprehensive tool for measuring their work with children rather than as a jumping-off point for their own reflections.

Keywords participation, youth, children, models, citizenship