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Student Finds Her Voice

Chandrea's picture

I was particularly interested in Alison Cook-Sather's article about student voice because I could finally take a class reading and apply it to real life! It's only been a week or two since I've started my job as a Student Consultant for TLI (I know a few of us in class have had the job or currently hold it) and I just find it really exciting to see my transition from a being a timid high school student who was frustrated with the way she was "learning" to being in a position where I can feel comfortable enough to tell a professor what she is doing that is or isn't effectively helping me as a learner in her classroom. Why didn't I "embrace the political potential of speaking out on [my] behalf" sooner? (366). I don't think I'll ever stop beating myself up for lacking the courage to explain to my teachers that a certain pedagogical method was not working for me. I'm the learner in the classroom and my needs are important!

I didn't get the chance to speak up in class today but if I could've, I would've brought up a question about students' rights in educational settings. "Rights" is a surprisingly strange word that I had to grapple with - it comes off strong and I feel silly even using it in this discussion. Cook-Sather talks about how Thomas Jefferson believed in "the right of all students to free public education" but he probably didn't mean for that to include students of other races... And then she mentions No Child Left Behind, which is another complex topic that still confuses and frustrates me to this day. I started thinking about how NCLB has directly affected me as a student. My question is: Does NCLB violate my right to an education? Thinking back on the sleepless nights I spent fussing over the possiblilty that I would never get into college because I was such a horrible test taker, I now believe NCLB has been more of a roadblock in my struggle to receive a quality education. Why did I have to write a certain way? What did my SAT scores say about me as a student? Why did we have to skip over certain topics that I was honestly curious about because of the time crunch the AP test imposed on us? Now I can't help but think, "How dare NCLB violate my rights!"

But why do I still feel like "rights" is too strong of a term? Of course I have rights, but why do I feel so uneasy declaring that? Perhaps my discomfort is a result of feeling empowered for the first time in a long time.



HSBurke's picture

Tale of TLI

I also became super excited while reading Cook-Sather's piece because I could see the direct connection between her beliefs on student voice and the core values of TLI, which I am also a part of. In ESem, Critical Issues in Education and this 360, we've read so many theories and theorists with great ideas but so rarely see them actively played out in front of us. I know I've caught myself wondering if some of these wonderful ideas for the betterment of the educational systems and student empowerment are really ever put into practice or if they are just written about then put on the shelf. Being a part of TLI makes me feel so proud of how much effort Bryn Mawr puts into to creating a better learning environment for its students. I’m also confident now that theory isn’t always just a collection of big words in a dusty book.