Co-creating with cacophonies of childhood: an alternative 'listening to families approach' with childhood studies and songwriting students

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Creative practitioners have hitherto applied collaborative songwriting as pedagogical context for family learning, where different generations communicate and learn from each other through the medium of song. This method has been shown to be particularly effective in raising vulnerable individuals' sense of personhood, self-esteem and moods following a dementia diagnosis, where the co-creation of songs with practitioners and artists can provide a therapeutic, person-centred approach to learning (Alzheimer Scotland, 2016). As noted in the symposium introduction, this project is a case study within a wider project which seeks to contribute to understandings of family learning practice. It utilises a pedagogical approach developed by the University of the West of Scotland called 'the Wee University' which aims to raise intergenerational aspirations for lifelong learning - a necessary first step to raising attainment and in any future transition to University. In particular, this project involves an exploration of how songwriting can provide a method of shared understanding between practitioners, parents/carers and children through an initiative called 'Brighter Star'. This paper will report on findings from an action research pilot study involving six BA Childhood Studies and BA Songwriting graduates who, alongside their lecturers, used ethnographic techniques to explore how songwriting can be applied as a pedagogical technique in family and interprofessional learning. This innovative research project involves ethnographic participant observations of family learning processes 'in-action', using fieldnotes and audio-recordings of the family learning and songwriting process (audio-recordings during the initiative - Pink, 2009). This short session will present indicative findings from initial phases of this case study, focusing on the ethnographic data collected to evaluate how stakeholders (parents, young children, students, practitioners) engaged with the process. Previous work in a health-based project ('Gracenotes' - UWS/Alzheimer Scotland, 2016) indicated that the most vulnerable stakeholders were markedly engaged, and developed an increase in cognitive functioning. It is anticipated that the findings of the research will enable debate around how family learning can be more or less effective through creative pedagogies, and the potential opportunities and barriers for stakeholders learning together.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference : Educational Futures in a Changing Landscape: Bridging Boundaries or "Mind the Gap"? - University of the West of Scotland, Ayr, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Nov 201724 Nov 2017


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleSERA Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • performance-based research
  • family learning
  • early years
  • pilot study


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