I got an email today from Georgia where a doctoral student wrote regarding my work on meaningful student involvement. He wrote, “I was wondering on what major researchers you have based your work,” and “Is there a philosophical basis for what you have created?” Following is my reply:
I have spoke with Alison Cook Sather a bit, and have followed her writing closely – particularly her International Handbook of Student Experience in Elementary and Secondary School. The other American researcher I keep in an eye out for is Dana Mitra at Penn State. (Sidenote: Students Are Stakeholders, Too! Including Every Voice in Authentic High School Reform may be a good resource – I haven’t got a hold of it yet.)
I think the really interesting work on student voice is actually being done overseas. I deeply appreciate the work of Michael Fielding at the University of Sussex and Jean Rudduck, formerly of the University of Cambridge. They have both had a steady eye on practical applications, particularly in the context of the UK’s school reform agenda. In 2004 Rudduck and Julia Flutter came out with an excellent book called How to improve your school: Giving pupils a voice. I would highly recommend this book to anyone studying this area.
Theoretically, all of my work is couched in Dewey’s Democracy and Education and Counts’ Dare the School Build a New Social Order?, as well as work by Freire, hooks and Giroux – particularly Giroux in Schooling and the Struggle for Public Life.
My current thinking is greatly informed by the international conversation around the “evolving capacities of the child”. I would also highly recommend a piece by Gerison Lansdown for UNICEF, which you can order here or download here.
You can find a number of Cook Sather’s articles free online, and if you’re interested I have a ton of reference articles at the SoundOut Library.