I was on a call with a number of other educators talking about a direction to take for some upcoming advisory work for a big educational organization. A lot of the conversation centered around the importance of change, and the value of looking at building positive change across roles and across the world of education.
As we talked around the idea, one of the important characteristics of building change that seemed to arise was the importance of voice, and making sure that everyone has the opportunity to not only craft their voice but to share it amongst others.
Voice is important for all learners, as without a voice we are simply cogs in a much larger machine, following through on the orders of someone (or something) else, never being given the opportunity to truly share how things appear to us.
So, we need to teach others, from an early age, the importance of sharing their voice, and we need to do so in such a way that encourages critical thought, collaboration, and compromise.
For young learners, voice can come easily, sometimes too easily. We want our young learners, whether our children, or our students, to follow important rules (sometimes rules that we set ourselves, sometimes rules that we all set together), but we also want them to push back on ideas or constraints that they find challenging and problematic.
Where is that balance? How much voice do we give? How do we help others understand that voice is different than being obstinate?
This is not an easy question to answer, and is certainly something that I struggle with as a parent and as a professional. I encourage my children to be independent, but I often get frustrated when they decide what they want to do has more value than what my wife and I want them to do. I want my colleagues to lead learning sessions and meetings, and I want to just be present as a listener, but then I struggle with a “need” or “compulsion” to have my voice heard.
Voice is important to make change happen. And change is paramount to us getting better. That said, I need to learn to “moderate” my voice to maximize what I say and reduce the “noise,” and through that process, hopefully I’ll become better at helping others learn to moderate their voices too!