Youth-Adult Collaboration

I’ve been writing in the last couple posts about collegial pedagogy, where young people and adults do not metaphorically “co-construct” a learning environment. They literally co-create a media product, through an intricate co-compositional process shot through with opportunities and risks. Under collegial pedagogy, young people and adults actually make work together, revealing their investments and vulnerabilities to one another in concrete ways. Several factors are at stake at a place like Youth Radio for both youth and adult participants, including journalistic integrity, professional reputation, personal and political message, intellectual and creative development, as well as the intended and actual impact any given story has on its audience.

The adult producer cannot create the story without young people to identify topics worth exploring, to find and interview characters, and to experiment with novel modes of expression and ways of using words, scene, and sound. At the same time, young people cannot create the story without adults to provide access to resources, equipment, broadcast outlets, and institutional recognition, and to share the skills and habits developed through years of experience as media professionals.

Young people offer a key substantive contribution that the adults cannot provide — a certain kind of access, understanding, experience, or analysis directly relevant to the project at hand. That is a major point of the youth media field after all — to contribute insights and challenging perspectives to a mainstream media that too often ignores the experience and intelligence of youth. And yet in collegial pedagogy, adults do not only oversee or facilitate the learning experience surrounding a given media production experiment; they actually join in the production process itself.

What are the other spaces in young people’s lives—in school, at home, among friends, online—where they experience collegial pedagogy?

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