Ready for Take Off: Youth Action Researchers at the Intersection (YARI)

At the YARI Kick-Off Event last week, we welcomed into the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative family ten youth researchers who are “twice exceptional” — they possess both a learning difference and face marginalization connected to race, language, sexuality, and/or income. KnowledgeWorks is leading the project with our partners from the Center for Youth and Community Leadership in Education (CYCLE), The Met High School, and the Youth Development Program at Rhode Island College (YDEV@RIC).

As a team, we support the youth researchers to pursue investigations they’re passionate about to help orient the field toward the expertise and vision our youth offer. We are so excited to watch how the YARI students’ integration into the Research Collaborative bolsters our student-centered efforts and informs our understanding of what approaches work best for our most exceptional youth.

We started the day by creating a brave space that asked attendees to tell stories, listen and honor the differences in our individual and collective histories.

Then, the youth researchers spent time getting to know each other to deepen their connections in the cohort and across our YARI project partners. Along with the mentors, they mapped their educational journeys and reflected on the highs and lows they’ve experienced in the educational system. This generated a host of insights about how intersectionality shapes learning, and how learning shapes identity.

The youth researchers then considered where dollars, democracy and dignity showed up or did not show up in their school environment and when and where student choice, voice and investment might boost outcomes. In groups, they created posters and shared what they would demand from their schools in Providence, Rhode Island.

Pairs of youth researchers matched with their mentors from YDEV@RIC and spent time getting to know one another. In their small groups, the mentors and the youth each shared their educational journeys, connecting their personal experiences to a host of research questions they will further refine in the weeks ahead.

All project partners were thrilled to have the opportunity to spend the day with the youth researchers and begin this journey together. They are an impressive group of creative, engaged and exceptional youth researchers who are more than ready to dig into some of the hardest and most important questions we should be asking of our education system. And we’ll be there to support them at every step of the way!

This blog is part of the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative by KnowledgeWorks and created with support from its funders. Learn more about this work.

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