We have never been asked before: Giving voice to the voiceless #VRF19

SLNSW 1Presentation to the 2019 Visitor Research Forum by Prof. Susan Groundwater-Smith, Honorary Professor, SSESW, University of Sydney and Dr Lynda Kelly, LyndaKellyNetworks, with Pauline Fitzgerald, State Library of NSW.


This presentation will draw upon recent literature that encourages the voices of children and young people in both providing testimony and engaging in research in relation to audience experiences in learning sites outside the classroom (Groundwater-Smith, Dockett and Bottrell, 2015; Mockler and Groundwater-Smith, 2015). It recognises the special nature of learning in cultural sites and the opportunities for those students who are rarely consulted to have a voice (Blunden and Fitzgerald, 2019).

We make the case that the improvement of learning organisations can be enhanced by listening to and respecting the voices of young people, including those who are marginalised (Hill, 2019) by providing examples including the State Library of NSW, Sydney Living Museums and the work of Kids’ College at the Australian Museum.

Our paper concludes with reference to the range of ethical concerns that require attention when working in this space (Alderson and Morrow, 2019). It will argue that attention to ethics is, effectively, an attention to quality in this area of research.


  • Alderson, P. and Morrow, V. (2019) The ethics of research with children and young people. (3rd edition). London: Sage.
  • Blunden, J. and Fitzgerald, P. (2019) Beyond the classroom: Museum visits and resources. In H. de Silva Joyce & S. Feez (Eds.) Multi modality across classrooms. London: Routledge, pp. 194 – 206.
  • Groundwater-Smith, S., Dockett, S. and Bottrell, D. (2015) Participatory research with children and young people. London: Sage.
  • Mockler, N. and Groundwater-Smith, S. (2011) Weaving a web of professional practice: The Coalition of Knowledge Building Schools. In B. Lingard, P. Thomson & T. Wrigley (Eds.) Changing Schools: Alternative Models. London: Routledge pp. 294 – 322.

Download our paper here: We have never been asked before




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