MARILYN CASLEY

Child consultor and childhood development researcher

Dr Marilyn Casley is a Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences and Social Work at Griffith University. Her research focuses on the knowledge and skills needed by professionals and practitioners for talking with and listening to children (0-18 years). Dr Casley’s doctoral research focused on adult's ability to understand children's perspectives. She has a vast amount of experience in consulting and researching with children, child development, inclusive practice, and workforce development for educators and practitioners that work with children and young people. Dr Casley is renowned for the development of resources and training packages for inclusive practice in early childhood settings and community services. In collaboration with Dr Jennifer Cartmel, she has developed a tool for talking with children and young people on matters that affect them; a tool that was been presented at international and national conferences and forums and which is used in practice by numerous practitioners. Dr Casley and her colleagues have also developed a critical thinking model, that she uses in her teaching and consultancy work. He current research project involves conducting a needs analysis on children and young people that are at risk or engaged in substance misuse in the local community. The project involves conversations with and data collection from children and young people , parents and caregivers, government department and non-government agencies for the purpose of developing outreach supports for children and young people at risk of engaging in volatile substance misuse.

Workshop Title: In the Present/ce: Talking circles a tool for listening and talking with children

Talking circles are based on thinking about learning as a process of self awareness and community building, and are very effective for gathering information about children’s ideas and perspectives The process is based on generative dialogue particularly listening - listening to oneself, listening to others and, listening to what emerges from the group.

This session will examine the Talking Circle methodology and findings from an Australian research project with school age children in school age child care services. The project was formulated to examine how children could be encouraged to ask questions about their social purpose and how they can make a difference for themselves, each other and their community and in turn build resilience and leadership skills. The children referred to this activity as 'Talking Circles’. Through the process of listening and talking to one another, children collaborated and established relationships with each other and the adults involved. As a consequence, data was gathered about children's interests and well being.

An evaluation of the Talking Circle process (Smith, 2020) argues that gathering data about children, from children and with children requires skilled communicators. This session will also explore the characteristics of adults' communication with children and proposes that the communication skills required include being able to create 'suspended' contexts in which dialogue can occur. That is if children and adults are 'talking in the present', the adult is able to encounter the child’s ideas, curiosities and hypothesis with respect and concern. This kind of process gives children an opportunity to shape and understand their own view of the world and within this context children are more likely to discuss their viewpoints with adults.

MARILYN CASLEY