Redefining Power

If young people’s voices are not being heard, it’s not a community any more, it’s just an adult community. A community consists of adults and children and if you’re going to listen to the whole community you have to also listen to the opinions of young people.

– High school student

Teachers and other adults working in schools do have the power to bring positive change to a student’s life. Traditionally in our society, and historically in our schools, power is viewed as the ability to impose one’s will and exert control over people or situations.

When we view the use of our power as a responsibility to manage, it becomes a force that can enable young people to pursue their potential, supported by adult guidance and wisdom. This current mindset is part of a cultural shift toward fostering youth empowerment. By viewing students as whole and as equally important members of the school community, by placing equal value on their perceptions, feelings and needs, we infuse our practice with an empowerment-based orientation.