Inequity and Youth Voice

Poverty, gender, sexual orientation, social class, academic achievement… Ability, interest, motivation and engagement… Exposure, awareness, knowledge, skills and application. There are a lot of factors that affect youth voice. Everyday those factors lift up the voices of some young people while oppressing the voices of others. Everyday those factors are used to inform, deny, acknowledge, critique, punish and reward youth voice.

Michael Fielding, a researcher who has explored student voice in UK schools for several years, has a framework that asks questions about youth voice very succinctly:

  • Who is allowed to speak?
  • To whom are they allowed to speak?
  • What are they allowed to speak about?
  • What language is encouraged / allowed?
  • Who decides the answer to these questions?
  • Who is listening?
  • Why are they listening?

For the next few days I’m going to explore inequity and youth voice with different blog entries. I have never read casual writing that talks about what the “youth voice gaps” are. Rarely have I seen a non-academic exploration of how the day-in and day-out youth, youth worker, or teacher can critique those gaps and learn from them. How can we create dialogs that explore those disparities? More coming tomorrow, when I start by exploring Poverty & Youth Voice. I will address Ruby Payne‘s influence on youth voice work, and share some of the most powerful examples I’ve found. Until then…

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