Weak Student Voice

big teacher   Voice. It is first formulated from a constellation of situations, a heteroglossia of shared ideas and vocabulary; its locution is predicated on the owner of the voice being informed. The owner of the voice must first have the language, and be immersed in information and lived situational experiences; this is to best formulate critical concepts before having the opportunity to articulate them. This is the learning environment critical pedagogues hope to provide for their students in higher education classrooms: opportunities for unfettered discourse of informed student voices–voices that iteratively strengthen and build on each other as they are equally volleyed back and forth between students and instructors in class.

Yet, as long as power differentiations exist in the classroom, this exchange and the subsequent waxing strength of student voice–this “coming to voice” (*hooks, 1994b)– is stagnated (Ellsworth, 1989;* hooks, 1994a, b; Rakow, 2000). “Feminist and critical pedagogy are two alternative paradigms for teaching which have really emphasized the issue of coming to voice. That focus emerged as central, precisely because it was so evident that race, sex, and class privilege empower some students more than others, granting “authority to some voices more than others” (*hooks, 1994b, p. 185).

*The author bell hooks does not capitalize her name.

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