Many Voices of Youth

There’s so much language around, "You’re the future of tomorrow," and, "You’re the leaders of tomorrow," and there’s truth to that but I think it’s important to embrace the fact that youth are leaders of today, leaders of the now. The space that youth live in is a space they helped shape. To talk about their leadership and the way they can help create and shape things starts with what they’re doing right now not just so that someday they can do it, they’re already doing it.

– Youth worker

When character development includes a strong respect for diversity, students become attuned, not only to that which they have in common with others but also to their own humanity. Respect for the dignity of all people is an essential characteristic of our society.

Finding Common Ground, p. 20

As we think about ways of placing student insights, needs, opinions and interests at the centre of our work in classrooms and schools, we may be limited in our thinking. We may think of the student body as a homogenous group; we may listen to a few select student leaders, believing they can speak for and represent all their peers. In short, we may focus on "student voice", rather than creating opportunities to elicit students’ many voices.

It is true that all young people are subject to adult power and may share certain social conditions and experiences as a consequence. That said, each student has their own individual perceptions and experiences, as do all human beings. Furthermore, our society’s diversity is mirrored in the diversity within our student body.